Four things Mikel Arteta got right and wrong as Arsenal crash out vs Villarreal

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Arsenal missed out on a Europa League final date with Manchester United after crashing out at the semi-final stage against Villarreal.

The Gunners couldn’t find the one goal they needed to overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit as the sides played out a drab 0-0 draw at the Emirates.

Mikel Arteta’s side came close to finding the breakthrough on several occasions, with Pierre Emerick-Aubmeyang hitting the post in the first-half.

But in the end Unai Emery got one over on his old club to leave Arsenal facing the prospect of no European football next season for the first time since 1996.

Daily Star Sport have highlighted two things Arteta got right and two things he got wrong on a disappointing night in north London.

Wrong – Xhaka at left-back

Kieran Tierney was one of Arsenal's few bright lights against Villarreal. So why did Arteta originally plan to start the match with Granit Xhaka at left-back?

Xhaka has proved an ample deputy in the past, but Arteta should not have required an injury to the Swiss in the warm-up to start his most influential defender.

If Tierney was fit enough to be on the bench, then he was fit enough to start and Arteta is very lucky that his original decision did not come back to haunt him.

Right – Starting Aubameyang

Arteta received immense criticism for his decision to start without a recognised striker against Villarreal last week. He didn’t make the same mistake twice.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started at the Emirates and almost gave Arsenal the lead in the first-half, only to see his shot to clip the outside of the post.

The Gabon international was withdrawn just before the end of the match, but at least Arteta learned his lesson from last week's shambles in Spain.

Wrong – No leadership

How did Arsenal look quite so lethargic in the second-leg of a European semi-final that they desperately needed to win?

The Gunners looked slow and almost uninterested at times as the clock ticked down and the tie began to slip away.

Some of the blame must go on the players, but it’s Arteta’s role as manager to gee them up for the big occasion.

Arsenal looked about as interested as a vegetarian at a butchers shop, and the Spaniard has to be criticised for that.

Right – Early sub

Arteta required a sending off for Dani Ceballos to raid his subs bench against Villarreal last week.

This time around he tried to change the game of his own accord, bringing on Gabriel Martinelli in the 63rd minute.

Martinell’s introduction didn’t provide the desired effect, but at least the Spaniard tried to influence the match when he could see it wasn’t working.

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  • Arsenal FC
  • Europa League

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