Five things we learned from Arsenal's Europa League exit

Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe reacts after the UEFA Europa League Semi Final at the Emirates Stadium, Londo

Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe reacts after the UEFA Europa League Semi Final at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: Thursday May 6, 2021. - Credit: PA

Arsenal missed out on the chance of making the Europa League final as they played out a goalless draw with former manager Unai Emery's Villarreal.

Here is the five things we learned in that match:

1. In a game that was boom bust, Arsenal were sent crashing out by a resilient, resolute Villarreal side.

Try as they did to break the Yellow Submarine, with 14 shots, the hosts managed just two attempts on target.

Whilst urgency was meant to be the order of the night, the Gunners were lacklustre. Paying the heavy price of elimination from the Europa League for such a pedestrian approach over two legs, it is difficult to see where they go from here. 

2. With Arsenal languishing in ninth place in the Premier League and facing their worst domestic finish since 1994-95, serious discussions must be had about Mikel Arteta’s job as manager.

The magnitude of two games against his predecessor in the Emirates dugout, Unai Emery, would not have been lost on Arteta but the fact is that he failed to deliver the goods when it mattered most.

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After Emery’s reign spiralled following a European final loss to Chelsea two seasons ago, it will be intriguing to see if Arteta can avoid the same cruel fate. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final at t

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: Thursday May 6, 2021. - Credit: PA

3. Should the powers that be decide to give Arteta another season, it is vital that he be backed with heavy investment for Arsenal to progress on the pitch.

After 18 months in the job, the Spaniard’s sole big-money signing has been that of Thomas Partey, who has had a mixed bag of a first campaign in north London, looking isolated and muddled in central midfield on Thursday night. 

4. No European football in N5 for the first time in 26 years is a bleak prospect for Arsenal supporters. However, on the face of this season, it seems that Arteta may benefit from focusing solely on the Premier League.

Still unsure of his best starting line-up and faced with a disjointed, demoralised squad, the focus of playing league football from week to week could assist the Arsenal manager in his quest for consistency. 

5. A frustrating lack of success this season can be attributed to Arsenal’s inability to create and score chances. The Gunners, boosted by the addition of Gabriel last summer, have looked solid without being spectacular as a defensive unit.

Their real struggles came at the other end of the pitch, where, apart from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang twice striking the woodwork, they created little.

Arsenal have scored a mere 46 goals in 34 league games, which is far too few for a club with their lofty ambitions.

A good place to start a squad rebuild would be to add an experienced creative midfielder, someone capable of regularly unlocking defences. 

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