It was a disappointing Thursday night for Arsenal as they were sent crashing out of the 2023 Europa League Competition.
Having played out to a 2-2 draw with Sporting in Portugal a week ago, the Gunners needed to win on their home turf to ensure they progress in front of their fans.
The storyline did not follow the script though as Sporting held the Gunners to a 1-1 draw in regulation time and eventually knocked out the English giants via penalties.
While it is an exit from yet another competition, it also means that the 2022-23 Premier League now remains Arsenal’s last hope of silverware this term.
The Gunners are currently five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, with 11 matches remaining, and league football is now the team’s sole focus for the rest of the season.
Arteta has now called on his side to put the disappointment away and respond quickly, starting with a win against Crystal Palace at the weekend.
Speaking after the defeat to Sporting, Gunners’ boss Mikel Arteta said: “It’s a huge blow, but it brings clarity to the season. It’s 11 games to play for, 11 Premier League games, and a big final against Crystal Palace. The focus has to be there, the energy has to be there and learn from tonight.
“There’s nothing else, we played 120 minutes and emotionally it was a really demanding game, physically it was a really demanding game and it’s a shame because we wanted to give the crowd, who were superb today again, a different result.
“We haven’t done it, we have to learn from it, but the best thing is now the reaction and show the same commitment, more quality and play better against Palace to beat them.”
Arteta also had to make changes to his backline twice in the opening half, losing both Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba to injury. Afterwards, he gave an early assessment.
“With Tomi, it’s not looking good,” he added. “He was in quite a lot of pain and it looks pretty nasty on his knee, but we don’t know.
“The game started pretty complicated from the beginning. Losing Tomi, then losing Saliba and obviously living that with a very difficult game management in terms of subs, especially because some players could not play 90 minutes. But the reality is that for 70 minutes, we were nowhere near our level.”