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Mikel: ‘We fought so hard for that dream’

From a league campaign that started with a 2-0 win away to Crystal Palace way back on August 5, and promised so much over the past 10 months – defeat to Nottingham Forest meant we could no longer catch Manchester City at the top of the table.

Our third league defeat in our last five games was as many as we had suffered in the previous 32, and Mikel Arteta admitted there were several reasons why his team came up just short in pursuit of City.

“(We’re) sad because we lost the game, sad because obviously it’s the day we have lost the championship,” he said after the final whistle.

“After 10 and a half months fighting for it, working every single day, just trying to get to that dream that we all had, and that we all fought for so hard.

“But at the end, we came up short. You need to get the team in the best moment in the last six league games; everybody healthy, everybody playing at their best and in the key moments, take those moments and maintain the momentum, and we haven’t been able to do that.

The boss added that it was too early now to assess the season as a whole, and this his focus has already switched to ensuring we finish the campaign with victory on the final day against Wolves.

“Today is too painful and I think we have to heal now for the next three days,” he said. “Make sure we prepare well this week, we have a huge responsibility to give our people the best possible performance and a win, with the support and everything that they’ve done for the team, and we need to do that first.

“We need to get rid of this feeling that we have right now.

“[We need to] show a lot of appreciation and gratitude for everything that they’ve done for the team. They’ve been incredible and the belief has transformed the team, individually and collectively. We have to give our best to give that back.”

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