Press conference

Every word from Arteta's post-Sporting CP presser


Mikel Arteta could not hide his disappointment after watching his side exit the Europa League on penalties against Sporting.

We bowed out of the competition despite taking a first-half lead, and there was further bad news when Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba were both withdrawn in the opening 20 minutes.

After the game the manager spoke to the media, where he discussed the performance, the injuries, and getting back to Premier League action against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Here’s a full transcript of his post-match press conference….

On a disappointing night…

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. 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.

On Tomiyasu and Saliba’s injuries…

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.

On if the injuries will have lasting damage into the Premier League run-in…

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.

On if Gabriel Jesus’ substitution was planned…

Yeah, and we decided to do that because we had to manage the subs and thank God that we took him out, especially after the two windows that we had to use in the first half, but that was the plan and he was coming from an injury as well. We knew the game could go to extra time and we have to manage that and he looked okay.

On if this defeat could be a blessing in disguise…

I cannot see it that way today. I don’t know, if you go through the competition and win it, it’s magnificent, if it’s not, then it affects your plans in the league, that’s a different story. We wanted to go through and we put everything into it, the effort the boys put when it wasn’t our best day, individually and collectively, the hunger and the desire they showed to win, the way they were tracking back was incredible, they really wanted it and today it didn’t happen. We need to put our heads up, look towards Crystal Palace, it’s 11 games left, the first one starts on Sunday.

On how Gabriel Martinelli will react after the shoot out…

He will react well. He’s obviously disappointed today, we all are, when you take those decisions that possibility is always there. He will learn from it, like Bukayo did in the past and move on.

On if we need to forget about tonight entirely…

No, because we gave everything. It wasn’t our day, we weren’t at our best individually and collectively, but they absolutely gave every drop of effort that they could on that pitch, but it wasn’t enough, but if we do things better on Sunday than what we’ve done today, we’ll have a big chance to win the game.

On the message in the dressing room at full time…

Just that we are all disappointed and we have to look ourselves. There are things we have to do better to have bigger margins to win the game and not rely on the last 20 minutes or extra time or a penalty shootout to go through in the competition. Now there are 11 games and that’s the only focus that we have and everybody is thinking about one thing, that’s Palace, and being in the best mental and physical condition, a lot of clarity and all the energy is there for Sunday.

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