Mikel Arteta urges Arsenal to forget Europa League exit and focus on title push
By Mark Mann-Bryans, PA
Mikel Arteta has told his Arsenal players to forget about their European exit as they aim to go eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.
The Gunners were beaten by Sporting in a penalty shootout on Thursday as they failed to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Attention now switches back to domestic matters, with Arsenal aiming to move further clear at the summit.
Managerless Crystal Palace are the visitors to the Emirates Stadium and, with closest title rivals Manchester City in FA Cup action, Arteta’s side could head into the international break with a healthy lead.
“I tried to give a lot of clarity in the dressing room,” Arteta replied when asked how he makes sure his players do not take their Europa League disappointment into the title race.
“It was all about the message: accept it, swallow it, we have to learn from it but there is no point now spending one bit of energy or thought that is going to take something out of Sunday.
“We have to be at our best again in the Premier League against Palace to beat them and I want everybody just recovering mentally and physically to be in the best possible condition for the game.”
Despite their European elimination, Arteta feels he learns more from adversity than he does from success as he aims to take the positives from the Sporting loss.
“I saw a lot of things on Thursday, especially when we were giving a lot of balls away and suffering, that they did it together,” he said.
“The way they reacted, the way they were when we conceded a goal and how the game changed after that. It shows me a lot of positive signs.
“The downside to it is that we could not materialise in the end to win it because – at the end – I think we deserved to win it and be through, but it wasn’t enough, it was maybe too late.
“On Friday it was about delivering the message about the Palace game and lifting them up and making sure they are there in the best possible condition.”
Captain Martin Odegaard echoed the sentiments of his manager and knows the players need to lift themselves if they are to deliver against Palace.
“It is very, very important,” he replied when asked about bouncing back.
“The next game comes quick now so we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to recover and make sure we win.
“It is good we feel disappointed. We should feel disappointed. We have to make sure it is only tonight and we come in with fresh minds ready to win on Sunday.”