Arsenal’s hopes of winning a European trophy are over for another year.
The Gunners bowed out of the UEFA Europa League last night after playing out a goalless draw in the second-leg of their semi-final showdown against Villarreal at the Emirates Stadium, meaning they lost the tie 2-1 on aggregate after the Spanish outfit prevailed in the first-leg last week.
Despite having chances to get the goal that they desperately needed, Arsenal’s efforts proved to be in vein, as they exited the competition when an all-English final with Manchester United would have been the reward.
In truth, despite having chances to score, it was a contest that lacked quality from both sides, with the game proving to be a largely uneventful contest.
But despite that, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta, who will now no doubt be feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders after this latest setback, felt his side deserved to win the tie and progress to the final.
Addressing his side’s performance after the game, Arteta told BT Sport: “Yes, we are devastated, really disappointed, but we have to congratulate Villarreal.
“I think over two legs and what happened today in the second half we deserved to win the game.
“For me, it’s very important that at the defining moment you should have everybody available at their best. And so many people trying to compete but not at their best.”
However, Arteta’s feelings that he thought his side were good enough to extend their stay in the competition did not wash well with former Gunners midfielder and interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.
The Swede called Arteta out for his comments, insisting the Spaniard had made the claim about believing his side deserved to win to protect his players.
“I like that he’s protecting his players, but personally, if you look at the two legs, they had four shots on target in both legs – that’s not good enough,” Ljungberg said.
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“They’re not creating enough clear chances and that’s a big problem for them.”
With the Gunners’ Europa League journey over, they will be desperate to secure a strong ending to the Premier League season, starting at home to relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion on Sunday evening.
After facing the Baggies, the Gunners lock horns with Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion in their three remaining fixtures.