After seeing us fall to a 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest that ended our already slim title aspirations, Mikel Arteta headed to the press room at the City Ground to tackle questions from the media.
He was asked about the performance, his reflections on the battle with Manchester City for top spot, where we can improve next season and much more.
Here is everything he had to say:
on the title race ending:
It’s a really sad day and there are a lot of difficult emotions. Obviously because we lost the game and we lost the championship after 10 and a half months fighting for it. I know that we have built an illusion, enthusiasm and belief that we could go all the way and win it, and we fell short. So congratulations to Manchester City, they’re the champions and they deserve to be the champions. They’ve done it for 38 games and we haven’t been able to do that. That’s it, and from my side I apologise because we have generated belief that we could do it, and at the end the team wasn’t able to do it, and that is my responsibility.
on whether he will use the hurt to drive us on again next season:
For sure, we will find a way to do that. Today is just sadness, you see a lot of people who have put so much work, so much belief and so many hours and I am sad for them because I wanted to find a way. We wanted to squeeze everything that we had out of that group and find alternatives and ways to reach certain levels, and when we don’t we try in other ways. We fell short and it is my job and my responsibility and I have to analyse that and think.
on if he’s disappointed we couldn’t take it to the final day:
I don’t know, today we should have played much better. We gave them a goal and we gave them a chance to get another goal if they wanted it, and we fell short to break them down. When you come to April and May, you need 24 players that are available, fit and playing at their best, full of confidence and ready to go. For many reasons, we haven’t had that. Then there are key moments in the league that define whether the moment goes there or there, and we didn’t have those margins going on our side. I think that’s the reason that we lost it.
on whether matching City for so long is an achievement in itself:
That is my job and that is what this club deserves. At the end it wasn’t enough and I know that we weren’t at that level but we have to find a way - this is not enough. It is not going to change in three months’ time that we are going to be at that level, but we have to find another way to do it. For example, today we should have played much better and this is my responsibility.
on whether Manchester City’s dominance will come to an end eventually:
That’s why we have to push that to happen and that’s not going to happen if we don’t make a lot of right decisions, and think smarter, and make the right decision and have the mentality every single day to get to that level.
on reflecting on the success that this season has been:
There’s no question about that, I’m not questioning that at all, but today is painful, we’re here to win, I’m here to win, I want to win, I love winning, I love what everybody does at this club to win, these people deserve to win, and when you don’t get there it’s painful, this is how I feel today. I value a lot what the players have done, everybody here, but when you are there it’s the next step, you have to win and we fell short.
on the key moments where the momentum shifted in the title race:
It started with what happened at Anfield in the 90th minute and we give it away and then you go to West Ham and you can make it 3-1 and that’s going to change. We have conceded a lot of goals, we have given 16 goals away in those matches, it’s a lot, you know a lot, you cannot sustain that. To win in this league you have to be exceptional at everything, because there are no margins. That team doesn’t give you any margins and we have extended those margins too much and that’s how we lost the league.
on the main reasons for us conceding in big moments:
It's my responsibility. At the end, I am responsible for the team to score many more goals than the opponents, and we haven’t done that in the last few weeks.
on whether missing Saliba was an important factor in conceding more goals:
We can look at that, but there are other things we should’ve done better.
on the lack of killer instinct against Nottingham Forest:
Everything timing-wise, quality-wise, the last pass, the last decision wasn’t accurate enough. You have to congratulate Forest for what they’ve done, the way they have defended, they got the game where they wanted. When we gave them a goal as well and we struggled in different ways, we tried many different ways. But at the end we didn’t find that quality to break them down.
on if there were too many changes to the backline today:
We had a lot of issues during the week with players that haven’t been able to train, that they only trained half an hour yesterday, we could’ve done it, I think that Thomas [Partey] played a really good game in that position. Again when you lose, I should’ve done something different, that’s for sure.
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