Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has blamed injuries for their exit in the Europa League to Sporting Lisbon, as it hampered how much he could influence the game through substitutions in the second half.
After a 1-1 draw on the night and a 3-3 aggregate result, Arsenal was eliminated from the Europa League on Thursday night through penalty shootouts.
Arsenal exit the Europa League
It was all to play for in this match at the Emirates after the first leg in Lisbon ended in a 2-2 draw.
Granit Xhaka gave the home team the lead in the 19th minute of the game, and the Gunners were in complete control after that. However, they were unable to increase their lead until Pedro Goncalves’ screamer caught Aaron Ramsdale off guard in the 62nd minute of play to tie the score.
Prior to Nuno Santos scoring Sporting’s winning penalty as the game entered overtime, Antonio Adan saved Gabriel Martinelli’s fourth effort for Arsenal in the shootout.
Arteta on how the injuries affected them
Mikel Arteta was limited in how much he could influence the game through substitutions in the second-half, as he was forced to make two changes due to injury in the first-half.
Takehiro Tomiyasu picked up an injury in the 9th minute of the game and was replaced by Ben White before Saliba also hobbled off the pitch in the 21st minute. Rob Holding came in for him.
This meant that although Arteta could make three more changes, he had to do them all at once or during halftime.
He opted to swap Gabriel Jesus for Leandro Trossard at half-time, before using his last chance for substitution in regular time to bring on Bukayo Saka and Thomas Partey.
Arteta bemoaned his luck and explained how making two injury substitutions in the first-half handicapped his team.
“Injuries happened with Tomiyasu and Saliba,” Arteta said, per the BBC.
“We are really restricted with the changes because we only have one window to do one and we didn’t have the subs left.”
Arsenal face Crystal Palace over the weekend, and they will try to shake off their European disappointment and attempt to extend their league lead to eight points with Manchester City playing in the FA Cup this weekend.