Mikel Arteta reveals Arsenal dressing room debrief following Europa League heartbreak
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has opened up on what he told his players following their elimination from the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night.
The Gunners returned to the Emirates Stadium for the second leg of their last 16 tie with Sporting CP having drawn 2-2 in Portugal seven days earlier.
Granit Xhaka gave Arsenal a first-half lead back in north London, before Pedro Goncalves scored from the halfway line after the break.
Sporting goalkeeper Antonio Adan made several saves to ensure that the tie went all the way to a penalty shootout, with Gabriel Martinelli’s miss sending Arsenal out.
Arsenal were considered one of the favourites to win a strong Europa League this season, but will now focus their attentions solely on winning the Premier League title – they sit five points clear at the top of the table.
Ahead of their return to domestic action, Arteta opened up on what he told the Arsenal dressing room following Thursday’s exit.
“I tried to give a lot of clarity in the dressing room and it was all about the message: accept it, swallow it, we have to learn from it. But there is no point now spending one bit of energy or thought that is going to take something out of our game on Sunday,” he said.
“We have to be at our best again in the Premier League against Crystal Palace to beat them and I want everybody just recovering mentally and physically to be in the best possible condition for the game.
“I saw a lot of things on Thursday, especially when we were giving a lot of balls away and suffering, that they did it together. The way they reacted, the way they were when we conceded a goal and how the game changed after that…it shows me a lot of positive signs.
“The downside to it is that we could not materialise in the end to win it because at the end I think we deserved to win it and be through, but it wasn’t enough, it was maybe too late.”