Mikel: We were so close to the semis

As we have all season long in our first Champions League foray for seven years, Mikel Arteta wants our players to learn from tonight’s defeat at Bayern Munich.

Joshua Kimmich’s header saw us fall to defeat at the Fussball Arena Munchen and end our hopes of reaching the last four, but Mikel admits that he’s pushing our youthful squad to the limit in our quest to claim some silverware.

That means he’s incredibly proud of his players for getting to within touching distance of the semi-finals in what is most of their first stab at Champions League glory, and perhaps we’ll see the benefits of this experience in the campaigns to come.

Reflecting on our campaign, Mikel said: “We haven’t been in the Champions League for seven years, we haven’t been in this position for 14 years, but our intention is to fast-forward everything and in our first season, be ready to play in the semi-finals and we were very close.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t managed to do it, so we have to learn from it, me first, and earn the right to be in the same position next season.

“I’m obviously very sad. The dressing room is very disappointed. We had a lot of hope and invested a lot to go through, but the margins in this competition are super small, and we lacked to make the difference in those moments.
“We had our moments again. I think the team played with a lot of personality, but we lacked that magic moment at some stage or to force a mistake, because that happens as well to go through in the tie. We have to congratulate Bayern; they have done it, and they are through.”
After back-to-back defeats to Aston Villa and now Bayern, Mikel has urged our players to put that pain behind them with so much still to come this term.

We’re still sitting in a great position in the Premier League with six games to go, and Mikel feels that the right support from the coaching staff as well as our supporters could make all the difference as we hope to end the campaign with silverware.

“Tonight, probably I cannot find the right words to lead the players because we have to go through that pain and that emotion,” Mikel admitted. “By tomorrow morning, we have to focus fully on Wolves, the task that we have ahead of us is unbelievable, it’s beautiful.

“We’ve worked for that nine, 10 months, so I ask everybody to please be behind our players to support them and to see the good side of it because what they are doing is unbelievable.”

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