Arsenal were able to finish off the season with a nice win over Brighton & Hove Albion yesterday but in truth, it all felt a little bittersweet. From finishing eighth to missing out on European football, there are some serious questions that need to be answered by the club over the course of the next few months – and a few nice wins when the pressure is off just won’t be enough to shift that narrative.
After the game, manager Mikel Arteta took some time to reflect on the season when speaking to the media.
On having the fans back:
Thank you so much, on behalf of myself, the staff and all the players. Then, we’re disappointed because we’re not in Europe. We made progress from last year in terms of points – 61 points last year would have got you fifth. There is a level and the league is developing, and so is the level we need to get into.
On whether it feels like a blow to miss out on Europe:
Well I knew that they were still playing when we came inside. We were following the game. It was in our hands. We tried to do our best by winning the last five games, but it wasn’t enough.
On whether he sees the positives of not being in Europe:
I’m sad because this club deserves to be delivered trophies and the Champions League. We haven’t managed that. It’s very challenging circumstances but we’ve tried to stick together and do our best. It’s not been enough. We have to be very critical of ourselves, of myself, and then prepare the best possible way for next season to take advantage of that. Hopefully we can have the pre-season that I haven’t had, and have time to work with those players and try to be a better team.
On what Josh Kroenke said to him at the game:
The same that he says every time that we’re on the phone, that he’s very supportive, very passionate about the club and he wants to take the club to a different level. That’s the ambition and that’s why he’s here.
On whether we need to have a busy summer to compete next season:
They’re going to get better and they’re going to strengthen, so we need to get better. First of all, we have to get our players better, more consistent and help them to improve. All our way of playing, our philosophy, I think is in place. They buy into that and now is the moment to take it to the next level, to improve that and improve our consistency because since December to now, we’ve shown that we’re the second or third-best team in the league. It’s not enough. Six months, the level is high, so we need to do that for 10 months.
On whether we could see Martin Odegaard at Arsenal next season:
Well we have a very clear and strong opinion on what we would like to do. He’s not our player. We’ll have discussions in the next few weeks, but first of all we need to respect that he’s a Real Madrid player. We’ll have those communications. We’ve tried to make everything that we could to get Martin performing for the team, which I think he’s done, and he has adapted really well to our way of playing and to our football club. Hopefully we have given him the hope and the feeling that this could be a good place for him.
On whether he’s confident Odegaard will stay:
I don’t know. It’s not in our hands. I don’t know.
On whether he feels we’re moving in the right direction:
Yeah. I can tell you what I see and my feelings. What I can say is that when I watch the team a few months ago and when I watch them now, regardless of the result, in my opinion we are in a much better place and we will be in a much better place. Hopefully we can take the club where we want.
On falling one point short of Europe:
It’s frustrating because last season 61 points would get you fifth, and now we are eighth. That’s the step but as well we now need to identify that the level is now so high that the only way to do it is to be much better next season, much more consistent and that’s the challenge ahead of us.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
Where do Arsenal go from here over the summer?