MIkel Arteta backs Arsenal to recover from Sporting Lisbon loss against Crystal Palace but Gunners sweating on injuries | Football News

Arsenal’s Europa League season ended in a penalty shoot-out defeat by Sporting Lisbon at the Emirates Stadium; Gabriel Martinelli missed the crucial penalty as the Premier League leaders had to focus on winning the title

0:25, UK, Friday 17 March 2023

Mikel Arteta urged his Arsenal side to focus on their 11 remaining Premier League “finals”, starting with their home game against Crystal Palace on Sunday after they were eliminated from the Europa League by Sporting Lisbon.

Arsenal were beaten 5-3 on penalties at the Emirates Stadium after a sensational long-range goal from Pedro Goncalves canceled out Granit Xhaka’s opener, and equalized the tie 3-3 on aggregate in a second leg in which the hosts were second-best in a long time periods.

The nature of the defeat capped a bitterly frustrating night for Arsenal, who also lost Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba to first-half injuries, with the former leaving Emirates Stadium on crutches in what Arteta described as a “serious” problem.

“Huge blow,” said Arteta afterwards about the result. “We really wanted to come through and fight competitively and strive for it and today we tried for 120 minutes and penalties and it just wasn’t enough.

“First of all, congratulations to Sporting Lisbon for progressing. If we look at ourselves, the game started difficult, we lost Tomi early in the game, then we lost Saliba and that left us with a really difficult game management because we only have that window had.” come on and a few players couldn’t play the 90 minutes.

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“But still we didn’t find our rhythm and our flow and we allowed too many spaces and won too few tackles and then we passed the ball many, many times, sometimes over and over again.

“Then in the last 20 minutes we got the flow and momentum and created three big chances but we didn’t score.”

On Tomiyasu and Saliba’s injuries, he added: “Tomiyasu looks pretty serious from his initial reaction and what he said to me, but it’s very early and very difficult to know.

Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka face the referee against Sporting Lisbon

“Willy, I don’t know. He had some ailments and couldn’t continue, so we had to get him out.”

Arteta will hope to call on Saliba when the Premier League leaders take on Crystal Palace on Sunday, but following comments from Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag claiming Arsenal have benefited from a clean bill of health this season, he stressed they have already overcome injury and supported them to carry on in the same way – despite their departure in Europe.

“We’ve had injuries all season,” he said.

“We had Emile out for four months, we had Gabriel Jesus out for four months, Alex [Oleksandr Zinchenko] for two and a half months, Thomas [Partey] a month and a half, Eddie [Nketiah] for a month and a half.

“We’ve had quite a few injuries, but we’ve dealt with them.

“The disappointment will not go away. The disappointment is there now, but it brings clarity. There are 11 Premier League games left and the next final is against Crystal Place.

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“We need to recover and put all our energy and focus into it, play better than today and make the same effort as today and win.”

Arteta: Martinelli will react like Saka

It was a particularly tough night for Gabriel Martinelli, whose missed penalty proved costly as Sporting won the shootout, but Arteta expects he will bounce back from his missed penalty for England in the same way team-mate Bukayo Saka did in the Euros final 2020 against Italy.

“He will react well,” he said. “Obviously he’s disappointed today. We all are. When you make that decision, the opportunity is always there. He will learn from it like Bukayo has done in the past and move on.”

Arteta expects the same from the other players and insists that their work rate in the game encourages him, even if they were far from their best.

Gabriel Martinelli is comforted by teammates after missing his penalty

“We gave everything,” he said. “It wasn’t our day, we weren’t at our best individually or collectively, but they gave everything they could on this pitch.

“It wasn’t enough, but if we do better than we did today on Sunday, we have a great chance of winning the game.

“Well the 11 games we have is the focus, the only focus we have and everyone thinks of one thing and that is Palace. Being in the best mental and physical shape, with a lot of clarity, with all that energy there.”

Arteta insisted he could not see the defeat as a blessing in disguise despite lightening up their schedule for the remaining months of the Premier League season.

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“I can’t see it that way today,” he said. “You go through the competition and you win, it’s great. If it’s not and it affects your plans in the league, that’s another story.

“But we wanted to get through and gave everything. The lads’ effort when it wasn’t our best day, the hunger and the will to win, the way they came back was incredible.

“They really wanted it and today it didn’t happen. We have to put our heads up and look for Palace now. It is what it is. It’s 11 games and the first starts on Sunday.”

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