The match ended 1-1 in regulation time before the Portuguese side triumphed 5-3 on penalties – not a result many saw coming.
Arsenal suffered European heartbreak after being eliminated from the Europa League round of 16 to Sporting Lisbon in a penalty shootout. The match ended 1-1 in regulation time before the Portuguese side triumphed 5-3 on penalties – not a result many saw coming. To add insult to injury, manager Mikel Arteta received further blows when Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba had to be taken off in the opening 20 minutes through injuries. With the Gunners still leading the Premier League table, the latest injuries could be a big blow for the London outfit.
Speaking about the injury situation in his post-match press conference, Mikel Arteta, as quoted by arsenal.com, said, “Tomiyasu looks pretty serious, for his reaction straight away and what he said to me. Obviously, it’s very early and difficult to know. William, I don’t know. He had some discomfort and could not carry on, so we had to take him off.” Despite the injury woes, Arteta wants his players to fully focus on the upcoming league games.
When asked if the injuries will have lasting damage in the Premier League season, Arteta replied, “I don’t know. We’ve been carrying injuries throughout the season. We had Emile out for four months, Gabriel Jesus out for four months, Alex for two and half months, Thomas for a month and a half, Eddie for a month and a half. We had quite a lot of injuries already, but we dealt with that. The disappointment is not going to go away, the disappointment is there now but it brings clarity. There are 11 games to play now, 11 Premier League games and we have a final against Crystal Palace. We have to recover all the energy there and put our focus there and play better than we did today. Put the same effort as today and win.”
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Mikel Arteta then went on to describe the European exit as a “huge blow.” Despite the disappointment, he extended his wishes to Sporting Lisbon for advancing in the competition. “A huge blow. We really wanted to go through and fight in the competition and go for it. Today, we tried for 120 minutes and the penalties, and it wasn’t enough. First of all, congratulations to Sporting CP for going through. Looking at ourselves the game started difficult for us. Obviously, we lost Tomi very early in the game and we lost Saliba. That really left us with a difficult in-game management. We only had a window to make the subs, and a few players could not play 90 minutes,” he added.
“But still, we didn’t find our rhythm and our flow. We allowed too many spaces, were late and didn’t win enough duels there. We gave the ball away many, many times. Sometimes time after time. And then the last 20 minutes, we got the flow and the momentum, we got into the final third much more and created three big chances, and we didn’t score. I think when we went to extra-time, we showed incredible energy again and top mentality when it wasn’t our best day to keep going. We had another two big chances, we didn’t win and at the end it comes to the penalties, it’s a lottery, and today it didn’t go our way.”
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