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Arsenal’s European exit leaves the club at its lowest ebb in decades

I

n the end, it was the Villarreal players dancing on the pitch at full-time and not those of Arsenal.

The Spanish side had every right to celebrate after knocking Arsenal out of the Europa League in their own backyard and booking a place against Manchester United in the final.

This was a dismal night for Arsenal and one that was made even more painful by the fact their old manager Unai Emery was in the opposition dugout.

Over the two legs, Mikel Arteta can have no complaints that his side were knocked out. They were second best. They were also outplayed and – perhaps most worryingly – out fought.

Arsenal went out here with a whimper in the end. They may have hit the post twice but, other than a busy flurry right after half-time, it was all rather subdued.

There was no tempo or urgency about their play and, on a stage as big as this, that is a big worry for Arteta. The fact the Gunners had two shots on target, in a game they had to win, says it all.

Villarreal never really looked flustered, with the centre-back pairing of Pau Torres and Raul Albiol looking composed throughout.

The whole of the Spanish side did in fairness and, when Arteta looks back on this tie, he will surely wonder what might have been.

Arsenal never really hit top gear and instead they trundled along to the point where their Europa League campaign has now stalled.


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