Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang admitted he felt “very, very bad” for his miss at the death which saw Arsenal waste the chance to secure a spot in the last 16 of the Europa League. The Gunners’ chances of reaching the Champions League next season were dealt a hammer blow as Olympiakos scored an 119th-minute winner at the Emirates.
Arsenal came into the second leg leading 1-0 from the first tie in Athens last week but Pape About Cisse’s header shortly after half-time forced extra time.
The Gunners finally broke the deadlock after 113 minutes through Aubameyang’s stunning overhead kick – his 20th goal of the season across all competitions.
But Youssef El-Arabi restored the Greeks’ advantage in the final minutes of extra time, taking advantage of more lapse defending from the hosts to slide in from Giorgos Masouras’ cross.
Aubameyang had the chance to put the north London side back in control deep into extra-time stoppage-time after the ball bobbled to him inside the area, though he could only fire wide as Arsenal’s 11-match unbeaten run in 2020 came to a miserable end.
The Gabon international was on the verge of bursting into tears after the miss having sunken to his knees and held his face in his hands.
“Really, really disappointed,” Aubameyang, clearly devastated post-match, told BT Sport after a sigh. “What can I say? It’s very, very hard, very tough.
“It was a tough game again and I think we missed some pace in the game. That cost us a little bit today. The last-minute goal was unlucky for us. Yeah, that’s it.
“I think it was tough because they played very deep and it was hard to find the solutions in the final third.
“As I said, it was a really tough game and tough to find some spaces.”
- Europa League draw: When is it? Who could Man Utd and Rangers face?
On his miss, he added: “Yeah, I don’t even know [what was going through my head after the miss]. I feel very, very bad. That can happen.
“I don’t know how I missed this chance. I was tired, I had some cramps as well but it’s not an excuse. I have to score this goal. But yeah, it can happen.”
Arsenal’s only hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League now rests with the Premier League.
With 11 top-flight matches remaining this term, Arsenal trail fourth-placed Chelsea by seven points.
But Wolves, Sheffield United, Tottenham and Manchester United are all ahead of them and Arsenal have struggled for consistency this term.
The north London outfit have not won more than two matches consecutively all season in the league.
And asked what the defeat means for their chances of playing in the Champions League next season, Aubameyang continued: “We try to keep improving in the Premier League.
“We try to win as many games as possible and we’ll see how many chances we have to qualify.”
Arsenal hero Martin Keown warned Arteta that there will be a bad reaction from the club’s fanbase following such a setback – though defended Aubameyang for his miss.
On the striker, the BT Sport pundit said: “Without doubt [he’s the reason Arsenal aren’t in a worse position this season]. If you look at the senior players, he’s the one player that’s turned up.
“The plus points have been [Gabriel] Martinelli and [Bukayo] Saka but Aubameyang, you can see how much he loves the club there, it really hurts him.
“He could’ve been the hero, instead he’s the fall guy there at the end. He’s someone who has got a big personality and he’s going to have to bounce back. There’s still things to play for this season for Arsenal.
“It’s about licking their wounds now and moving on from tonight. It’s been a hugely disappointing evening.”
Keown added: “It was the first time I felt that the players were not responding to the manager and the manager did not know what changes to make.
“There is so many disappointments in that Arsenal performance. There were so many unprofessional performances from players. Such a poor game for Arsenal.
“If you break down the performance you could have looked at every single player and say that they could have all done more.
“Nicolas Pepe is going to have to improve. Martinelli should have come on a lot earlier. [Granit] Xhaka was taking the easy way out. A lot of players were not playing their best.
“It would have been the perfect way to finish [Aubameyang scoring a late winner] but they didn’t. There was a lot of anger, fans were showing their anger at the end of the game. There is going to be a lot of fallout from this game.”
Source: Read Full Article