London (AFP) – Mikel Arteta warned his Arsenal flops on Sunday they need to be “much better” next season as they face a first campaign without European football in 25 years.
Arteta’s side finished a dismal season with a 2-0 win against Brighton thanks to Nicolas Pepe’s second half double at the Emirates Stadium.
It was not enough to secure European qualification as they settled for a second successive eighth place finish in the Premier League.
At best, Arsenal would have qualified for the new Europa Conference League, reflecting the reduced status currently endured by the north London club.
In his first full campaign in charge, Arteta has been unable to reverse the slide that has continued since the final years of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Arsenal did finish with five consecutive league wins, their best run in the competition since October 2018.
“When I was with the team a few months ago and with them now, regardless of the results, we are in a much better place and will be in a much better place and can hopefully take the club where we want,” Arteta said.
“It is frustrating because last season with 61 points we (would have finished) fifth, now we are eighth and that is the step that we have to identify.
“The level has gone so high so the only way to do it is to be much better next season and much more consistent and this is the challenge ahead of us.”
Some have suggested a season out of Europe for the first time since 1995-96 could be a good thing as Arteta looks to rebuild, but the Gunners boss does not agree.
“It wasn’t in our hands. We tried to do our best, but it was not enough,” he said.
“This club deserves trophies and Champions League and we haven’t managed to do that in very challenging circumstances.
“We have tried to stick together and do our best, it’s not been enough. Now we have to be very critical of ourselves and prepare for next season in the best possible way.”