‘It brings clarity to the season’

After Sporting brought an end to our Europa League hopes on Thursday, Mikel Arteta was quick to look ahead to resuming our Premier League campaign.

We currently sit five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, with 11 matches remaining, and league football is now the team’s sole focus for the rest of the season.

There’s a quick turnaround before we switch back to domestic football, facing Crystal Palace on Sunday, and the manager says the team needs to respond quickly.

“It’s a huge blow, but it brings clarity to the season. It’s 11 games to play for, 11 Premier League games, and a big final against Crystal Palace. The focus has to be there, the energy has to be there and learn from tonight.

“There’s nothing else, we played 120 minutes and emotionally it was a really demanding game, physically it was a really demanding game and it’s a shame because we wanted to give the crowd, who were superb today again, a different result.

“We haven’t done it, we have to learn from it, but the best thing is now the reaction and show the same commitment, more quality and play better against Palace to beat them.”

The boss had to reshuffle his backline twice in the opening half, losing both Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba to injury. Afterwards he gave an early assessment.

“With Tomi, it’s not looking good,” he said. “He was in quite a lot of pain and it looks pretty nasty on his knee, but we don’t know.

“The game started pretty complicated from the beginning. Losing Tomi, then losing Saliba and obviously living that with a very difficult game management in terms of subs, especially because some players could not play 90 minutes. But the reality is that for 70 minutes, we were nowhere near our level.”

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