Arteta: We must be critical of ourselves

Mikel Arteta admitted he and his Arsenal players must be critical of themselves after they finished the season in eighth place and failed to qualify for Europe for the first time in 25 years.

The Gunners appeared to be on track for Europa Conference League qualification after Nicolas Pepe’s double helped them on their way to a 2-0 win over Brighton, but Tottenham pipped them to seventh spot with their late 4-2 win over Leicester.

“Disappointed because we are not in Europe,” Arteta said in his post-match press conference at the Emirates Stadium.

“We made progress last year in terms of points. Sixty-one points last year would have taken us to fifth but it shows the way the league is developing and the level we need to get to.”

He added: “It wasn’t in our hands. We tried to do our best and won the last five games but it wasn’t enough.

“This club deserves to be delivered trophies and the Champions League, but we haven’t managed to do that under very challenging circumstances.

Nicolas Pepe celebrates his goal with teammates (AP)
Nicolas Pepe celebrates after scoring against Brighton

“We have tried to stick together and do our best but it’s not been enough and we have to be very critical of ourselves, and myself, and then next season prepare in the best possible way.

“Hopefully we can have a pre-season, which I haven’t had, and have [more] time to work with the players and try to be a better team.”

Arsenal’s Kroenke owners, who faced protests once again ahead of the game, have promised to invest in the team this summer and Arteta admits it’s vital the club strengthen in the transfer window, while also improving the players they have.

The Spaniard is encouraged by the fact that only Manchester City and Manchester United have amassed more points than Arsenal since Christmas but admits consistency must be their priority next season.

Arsenal v Brighton highlights


FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win against Brighton

“[The other teams] are going to get better, they are going to strengthen, so we need to get better,” he said.

“First of all, we have to get our players better and more consistent and help them to improve.

“Our way of playing and our philosophy is in already in place and they buy into that.

“Now is the moment to take it to the next level and improve our consistency because since December until now we have been the second or third best team in the league.

“But it’s not enough to do that for six months. The level is so high, you have to do it for 10 months.”

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