'I still feel very responsible' - Arteta admits he's still hurting after Europa League exit

Mikel Arteta Arsenal 2020-21Getty Images

Mikel Arteta has admitted that he is "still hurting" days after Arsenal's Europa League semi-final exit to Villarreal, stating that he still feels the weight of responsibility for their double-legged defeat.

The Gunners crashed out of continental football against the Spanish side, coached by former boss Unai Emery, on Thursday evening after they were held to a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium, dashing hopes of silverware and an all-English foursome in major European finals this term.

Though Arsenal can still qualify for either the Europa League or newly created Europa Conference League mathematically, they face an uphill battle to do so - and with the likelihood of no international club football for his side looming, Arteta acknowledged that it still weighs heavily upon him.

What has been said?

"I do take [responsibility], it is still there, still hurting," the Spaniard told BBC Sport following his side's victory over West Brom in the Premier League on Sunday, to condemn Sam Allardyce's side to relegation and the Championship next term.

"You can probably see in my body language it is still there. There were very small margins. I still feel very responsible," he added.

"We have done so many right steps, some you can see and some you can't. The foundations are there.

"[Today], the best way to do it is with the right attitude. The three goals were very different but really good individual and collective actions."

Arteta hails Smith Rowe success

Though the scoreline reflected a degree of comfort for Arsenal, they were forced to work for their win by a Baggies side determined to fight until the last, with Willian's late free-kick helping to craft breathing space.

The opener however came for Emile Smith Rowe, who netted his first top-flight goal for the club to put them on the way to victory, and Arteta added that he feels the youngster is headed in the right direction.

"He is developing the right way [with] his first Premier League goal," he stated. "His level is to do that and score 15 goals. He is making the right steps."

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