When Mikel Arteta sat down in front of the press immediately after Arsenal’s Europa League defeat at the hands of Sporting C.P. on Thursday, there was an obvious sense of disappointment. This was not a man who looked like he was in any way relieved to be out of Europe’s second tier competition.
But, there was a clear message from Arteta despite his disappointment and that centred around the "clarity" that the defeat had brought to Arsenal’s season.
“There are 11 games to play now,” he said. “Eleven Premier League games. The disappointment is not going to go away, but it brings clarity. There are 11 games and that’s the only focus that we have. Everybody is thinking about one thing.”
The Europa League was a competition Arsenal were taking seriously. Arteta may have made changes for both legs against Sporting, using the ties as an opportunity to rest some of his more trusted stars. But he wanted to go through. He wanted to win the trophy and he wanted to end Arsenal’s long wait for European success.