Mikel Arteta insists he is still the man to lead Arsenal back to glory despite his side failing to reach the Europa League final after being eliminated by Villarreal.
The Gunners face a first season without European football in 25 years after drawing a blank in their semi-final second leg against Villarreal. Arteta’s side were trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Spain and failed to overturn the deficit as Unai Emery got one over his former club to once again reach the final of a competition he thrives in.
A 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium means Arsenal’s hopes of playing in Europe next season rely on an unlikely string of results in the Premier League.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the post with Arsenal’s best chance as another tactical tweak from manager Mikel Arteta failed to pay off.
Emery won the Europa League three times as Sevilla manager and took Arsenal to the final in 2019, where they lost to Chelsea.
Manchester United will be waiting for Emery’s Villarreal this time around as Arsenal’s exit prevented both Europa League and Champions League finals from being all-English affairs.
With Arsenal also on course for their worst league finish since 1995/96, Arteta is coming under pressure from some sections of supporters – despite winning the FA Cup last year.
Asked if he still had faith in his own ability to do the job, he simply replied: “Yes.”
Pushed on whether he felt his position is under threat, Arteta added: “I think everybody’s job is under scrutiny.”
He also said he “wouldn’t be sitting here” if he did not think he could pick his players up and stressed: “You will see it. It is not about talking, it is about showing it on the pitch.”
Arsenal lost Granit Xhaka to a muscular complaint in the warm-up. Kieran Tierney was drafted in for his first appearance in over a month as Arteta revealed fellow full-back Cedric Soares was on the bench despite spending time in hospital on Wednesday.
Emery led Villarreal to their first-ever major cup final and was pleased to achieve the feat in his first season at El Madrigal.
“I am satisfied and proud,” he said.
“Satisfied with the job that we have done and proud of the project that we have here at Villarreal.
“The president had been here for over 20 years. They have been in the Champions League semi-finals, three Europa League semi-finals but lacking that final step.
“I think we are going to be up against the favourites in Manchester United and they have shown their potential throughout the campaign in this competition.
“However, we have knocked out one of the teams that was one of the favourites. We are aware of how difficult it is going to be but we are proud to prepare and compete in that kind of game.
“Manchester United are a great side. We are going to have to work hard to nullify some of their strengths.”
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