Mikel Arteta details dressing room message to Arsenal players after Europa League exit
Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League on penalties by Sporting Lisbon on Thursday but are still top of the Premier League – and Mikel Arteta has asked for “clarity”.
Mikel Arteta has told his Arsenal players to use disappointment at Thursday’s Europa League exit to fuel their push for the Premier League title.
The Gunners boss doesn’t want his men to experience the same emotions they felt after their penalty shoot-out against Sporting Lisbon in May. That 5-3 penalty loss after a 1-1 draw at the Emirates, which made the 3-3 aggregate draw, was the kind that could take the wind out of the players’ sails.
But Arteta and his men can rebound knowing they can go into the international break eight points ahead of title rivals Manchester City – despite having played a game more and still have a game against them at the end of April – if they beat a side of Crystal Palace, for whom the last few days have been very difficult, including on Sunday afternoon.
Arteta said: “I tried to bring a lot of clarity in the dressing room and it was just about the message: accept it, swallow it, we have to learn from it. But there’s no point wasting even a little energy or thought that might spoil our game on Sunday.
“We need to be back at our best in the Premier League against Crystal Palace to beat them and I want everyone to just recover mentally and physically to be in the best possible shape for the game.
“I saw a lot of things on Thursday, especially when we gave away a lot of balls and suffered that they did it together. The way they reacted, the way they reacted when we conceded a goal and how the game changed after that… That shows me a lot of positive signs.
“The downside of that is that in the end we couldn’t win because in the end I think we deserved to win and go through, but it wasn’t enough, it was maybe too late.”
To add to the excitement of Sunday’s game, Palace sacked Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira from his managerial role on Friday after a miserable run. The Eagles haven’t won any of their 12 games in 2023, and as disappointed as many people will be for Vieira, the writing really was on the wall.
Even before the Frenchman was axed, Arteta, who knows him well, feared some sort of backlash from Palace after a dirty dozen games and Vieira’s departure will only have increased his concerns on that front. He added: “They showed against Brighton on Wednesday that it can make them more dangerous.
“So, with the same will, we have to be better again in many departments than we were on Thursday and do what we have to do to win the game.”
Arguably the biggest battle for both sides today will be mental given the events of the past few days but Arteta has been working on that since the final whistle against Sporting. He said: “We were already working on that in the dressing room on Thursday and on Friday it was all about getting the message across about the Palace game and lifting them up and making sure they’re there in the best possible condition.”