THE NOTEBOOK: Europa League exit may be a blessing in disguise for Mikel Arteta, Kim Kardashian make shock appearance at the Emirates… and Jeremiah St Juste is a talent
- Arsenal are out of the Europa League after losing on penalties to Sporting Lisbon
- After a solid display in the first leg, St Juste was superb again for the visitors
- But this may not be the worst result for Arsenal in their Premier League title bid
Arsenal’s Europa League campaign came to an end on Thursday night as Sporting Lisbon got the better of a tense penalty shoot-out to book their place in the quarter-finals.
After a 2-2 draw in last week’s first leg, Granit Xhaka fired the Gunners ahead 19 minutes into their last-16 decider at The Emirates, before Pedro Goncalves equalised for the visitors with a sensational long-range effort 17 minutes after half time.
The tie eventually went to penalties, and after seven perfect efforts Gabriel Martinelli missed what proved the decisive spot-kick, allowing Nuno Santos to stroke home the winner.
Here, Sportsmail’s LEWIS STEELE takes a look at what you may have missed from the game.
Sporting Lisbon beat Arsenal on penalties in their Europa League last-16 decider on Thursday
European blow may be blessing in disguise for Gunners
At what point of the season were Arsenal and Mikel Arteta to start seeing the Europa League as a hindrance to their Premier League title push? Maybe this loss will be seen as a positive.
There’s a long-standing debate whether advancing in cup competitions can breathe confidence and build a winning DNA for the team, or whether they are ultimately detrimental.
As two key Arsenal players limped off in the first half and Gabriel Jesus did not return for the second period, one definitely leant towards the latter argument.
This was a bruising night for the Gunners regardless of the result, especially noting those injuries to Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba.
Win and they would have two more Thursday night games to sandwich into a packed schedule. But this loss might inflict a huge dent in confidence in their title tilt. They were second best.
While it was a disappointing night for the Gunners, their European exit could turn out to be a blessing in disguise
Mikel Arteta and his team can now focus entirely on their bid to win the Premier League title
Sporting light up north London streets
One of the best features of European club football is seeing the clash of cultures both in a tactical sense on the pitch but, more so, in the streets before the game.
Sporting fans marched in their numbers from Highbury and Islington and created a carnival atmosphere, with a cacophony of noise and collection of bright colours.
The away end resembled a sea of green and white and how they celebrated Pedro Goncalves’ equaliser and winning penalty, with each of them jumping up and down in euphoria.
By north London’s standards this was a pleasant night but, compared to Lisbon, the weather was dismal. Sporting fans did not care as many took off their shirts and swung them aloft.
Chant of the night, though, goes to those in the Clock End who sang, ‘Just like Benfica, we’re top of the league’, poking fun at Sporting’s 10-point deficit to their city rivals.
Kim K in the house
Welcome to the weekly edition of unexpected guests at Arsenal matches. On Sunday, Mick Jagger sat by the River Thames in satisfaction as the Gunners breezed past Fulham.
Kim Kardashian was spotted in the stands at The Emirates for Thursday night’s match
The reality TV star was in attendance in north London while filming a new documentary
On Thursday night, Kim Kardashian was in the building with her son Saint West and the reality TV star posted pictures of her at the stadium with a few bottles of the Prime energy drink.
It is understood Kardashian, who has split up with Saint’s father Kanye, was filming a documentary. Even a dull first half is better viewing than Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
You will have seen the video clip from the first leg of Sporting defender Jeremiah St Juste making one of the best recovery tackles in memory after a fabulous sprint.
He continued to show this pace here, thwarting Gabriel Martinelli early in extra time. But aside from his blistering pace, which is rare for a defender, the Dutchman looks a solid talent.
Sporting defender Jeremiah St Juste was outstanding in both legs of this last-16 battle
He has been thwarted by injury in a stop-start career but he seems settled in Ruben Amorim’s back three, and was the catalyst in starting many attacks.
St Juste also penetrated Arsenal’s midfield with searing runs and dealt with the Gunners’ front three on what could have been a tricky night.
Emirates witnesses first shoot-out
Stat of the night. It was October 2003 the last time Arsenal had a penalty shoot-out in a home game, at the old Highbury Stadium.
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