Mikel Arteta has said there were “many moments” last season when he believed his Arsenal team would go all the way and win the Premier League only for a lack of depth to ultimately cost his side, leaving him with the agony of their near-miss.
Arsenal appeared to be streaking towards the league title before injuries, especially the back problem suffered by key centre-back William Saliba, proved fatal to their hopes of holding off Manchester City.
In an interview with Spanish publication Marca, Arteta has now said that he feels those injuries were the reason for the team’s loss of consistency. The Arsenal manager also pointed towards his side’s run of draws against Liverpool, West Ham United and Southampton as a pivotal moment in the title race, and opened up on the “hurt” that he felt and losing out to his former mentor Pep Guardiola.
“To this day, it still hurts me deeply, not having won the Premier (League) after spending 10 months fighting with City,” Arteta said. “But that’s the sport. That said, what has been achieved with such a young team is worthwhile. That is clear to me too.”
He added: “Those three draws in a row that we had [against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton] penalised us, and all the misfortunes that happened. There were three or four injuries to important players and from there, everything got complicated.
“When we had the full team, we were consistent. As soon as problems came, it didn’t reach us. And then our rival was the best team in the world, the best squad in the world, the best coach in the world. We had no choice but to accept it and shake hands with the champion.”
Asked if he saw himself winning the Premier League title, Arteta said: “In many moments. The team gave me arguments and we had a connection with the people. It was believed in.
“But when we started to have injuries, I felt that it was going to cost us. The level of demand could not be maintained. If you want to win the Premier League against City, you have to get to April-May with all the players available and at their best. And we, due to injuries, did not get to that.”