Arteta admits disappointment after four Arsenal stars let him down

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta reviews Sporting Lisbon

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has admitted that Gabriel Martinelli has been left disappointed by his penalty miss but backed him to respond like Bukayo Saka did after his miss at the Euros in 2021. The Brazilian was one of four players to let the Gunners down in the defeat to Sporting Lisbon as the club went crashing out of the Europa League in the round of 16.

Arsenal had the better of the game at the Emirates on Thursday but could not do enough to get past their Portuguese opponents. Granit Xhaka opened the scoring on the night before Pedro Goncalves levelled the scoring with a ridiculous lob from the centre circle. The match then went to the lottery of penalties following a 2-2 draw in the first leg.

Martinelli was the only player to miss in the shootout as his spot kick was saved by Sporting keeper Antonio Adan, sending the away fans into raptures. Arteta commented on the Brazilian after the game, stressing he had been left disappointed by the penalty but backed him to learn from it.

“He will react well,” the Arsenal boss said. “He’s obviously disappointed today, we all are, when you take those decisions that possibility is always there. He will learn from it like Bukayo did in the past and move on.”

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The defeat means Arsenal only have the Premier League left to fight for this season after early defeats in both domestic cups. Being out of Europe may prove to be a blessing in disguise as it will allow players to focus on lifting the trophy for the first time since 2004 while title rivals Manchester City continue to fight on three fronts.

However, this was scant consolation for Arteta who could not hide his disappointment after the game.

“It is a huge blow,” he said. “We really wanted to go through and fight in the competition and go for it. Today, we tried for 120 minutes and the penalties, and it wasn’t enough.

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“We didn’t find our rhythm and our flow. We allowed too many spaces, were late and didn’t win enough duels there. We gave the ball away many, many times. Sometimes time after time and then the last 20 minutes, we got the flow and the momentum, we got into the final third much more and created three big chances, and we didn’t score.

“I think when we went to extra-time, we showed incredible energy again and top mentality when it wasn’t our best day to keep going. We had another two big chances, we didn’t win and at the end, it comes to the penalties, it’s a lottery, and today it didn’t go our way.”

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