‘We weren’t on the level we should be’: Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard admits his side were not good enough during their Europa League defeat against Sporting… as Gunners captains laments their lack of energy
- Arsenal crashed out of the Europa League after losing to Sporting on penalties
- Pedro Goncalves 46-yard stunner cancelled out Granit Xhaka’s first-half opener
- Martin Odegaard was not satisfied with his side’s lack of energy after the match
Martin Odegaard bemoaned Arsenal’s energy levels against Sporting Lisbon as his side crashed out of the Europa League on penalties on Thursday night.
The Gunners captain, who was substituted on by Mikel Arteta in extra-time to rescue the last-16 tie, admitted Arsenal lacked energy and played well below the standard they have set throughout the season so far.
Granit Xhaka’s first-half opener initially handed the north London club a 3-2 advantage on aggregate but was later cancelled out by Pedro Goncalves, who caught out Aaron Ramsdale with a 46-yard stunner just after the hour mark.
Despite probing for a winner, Arsenal were taken to penalties by the Portuguese outfit and subsequently lost the shootout 5-3, after Gabriel Martinelli’s crucial spot-kick was saved by Antonio Adan.
Lamenting his side’s lacklustre performance, Odegaard urged that Arsenal must now look forward and recover from the elimination quickly, confident they still have what it takes to fend off Manchester City and hunt down a historic Premier League title.
Martin Odegaard bemoaned Arsenal’s lethargic display after his side crashed out to Sporting
The Gunners were eliminated from the Europa League after suffering a 5-3 defeat on penalties
‘I think we did enough in some periods of the game but most of the game we weren’t on the level we should be,’ Odegaard told BT Sport after the match.
‘We didn’t play our best football. It was a tight game in the end, it could have gone both ways.
‘They are a good team, we knew that, we were prepared. It was more about us today, we didn’t play the way we normally do with the same energy we normally do. Now we have to look forward.
‘We have to remember it’s been a great season, it’s a big blow to go out of this competition. But now we look forward to the league, that’s all we can do now.
‘We win and lose together. It doesn’t matter. When we’re winning everyone is happy, when we lose we have to pick up the spirit. We win and lose together.’
Arteta benched key players including Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Thomas Partey at the Emirates although did include Gabriel Jesus amongst the starters following his four-month spell out with a knee injury.
Defenders Ben White and Rob Holding were quickly called into action early in the first half as Arteta was forced to take off both Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba because of injuries, disrupting the Spaniard’s gameplan from the offset.
The Norwegian substitute attempted to lift the spirits by gearing up the crowd in extra time
Odegaard spent most of the second leg watching Arsenal’s lethargic display from the bench
Having used two of their three substitution windows by the end of the first half, Arsenal were unable to call upon Odegaard until extra time, and thus the Norwegian was left to watch his side fall away towards the end of the second half.
After his introduction, the skipper made a continual effort to raise spirits inside the Emirates, frequently stimulating the home supporters with animated gestures throughout extra time.
The Gunners caught second wind in extra-time and nearly went ahead through Leandro Trossard, who struck the post after a smart save from Adan, and Gabriel Magalhaes, whose bullet header was again denied by the Spanish shot-stopper.
Odegaard will hope his side can regroup quickly ahead of Sunday’s home clash against relegation-threatened Crystal Palace, who have still not won this year under Patrick Vieira.
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