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Mikel Arteta at a crossroads as Arsenal’s Europa League exit caps off disastrous campaign

A goalless draw was the last thing Arsenal needed when they took to the pitch against Villarreal in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final tie on Thursday.

The Gunners played in the absence of a home crowd at the Emirates, and it’s fair to say they were rather fortunate not to have played in front of their fans.

Based on Arsenal’s performance on Thursday, their fans would have likely booed and jeered at the team if they were allowed inside the stadium.

The north London club put in a lifeless performance against Villarreal and were punished for being too cautious.

Arsenal miss out on Europa League final

The biggest disappointment is not that Arsenal failed to win, but that they didn’t even try. Villarreal were there for the taking, but the Gunners just weren’t up to the task.

In truth, Mikel Arteta’s side had this coming. They were disastrous in the first leg at El Madrigal and had won just thrice in their previous 10 matches.

With such poor form, Arsenal were always going to struggle against one of La Liga’s most disciplined sides. The 0-0 draw means the Spanish giants have now qualified for the Europa League final.

For Arsenal, though, this is yet another disappointing campaign. The Gunners now face the prospect of no European football for the first time in 25 years as they occupy ninth place in the Premier League table.

What next for Mikel Arteta?

The irony of Arsenal’s Europa League exit is that the club were booted out of the competition by a side managed by their former boss Unai Emery.

Mikel Arteta was the man who replaced Emery, but it seems very little has changed. Despite showing promise by winning the FA Cup and Community Shield last year, the Gunners have been a ticking time bomb this season.

The pressure is beginning to mount on Arteta, but there’s very little he can do now as a trophyless season stares him in the face. When asked if he’s still the right man to lead the club, the Spaniard said (as quoted by Sky Sports):

“I wouldn’t be sitting here if I couldn’t. You will see it. It’s not about talking, it’s about showing it on the pitch. I feel the pressure all the time because I want to do as good as I can for the team, for every support that I have here and for the fans.”

“Today is a big disappointment because we tried everything to be in that final. I think everybody’s job is under scrutiny.”

Many Arsenal fans are already beginning to turn on their manager, as some believe he is not the right man to take the club to the next level.

It remains to be seen if the Arsenal hierarchy will stick with him or find a replacement ahead of next season.



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