Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour has expressed his disappointment with the manner of the club’s exit from the Europa League at the hands of Villareal on Thursday night.
According to him, Arsenal were fortunate to return from the first leg only a goal down and with a vital away goal but added that none of the players took the game by the scruff of the neck in the reverse fixture at the Emirates.
Arsenal currently sit 9th in the Premier League with 4 games to go and the Europa League presented the opportunity to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League. With this exit, their chances of participating in Europe next season just got slimmer.
Parlour also added that the inability of Mikel Arteta’s side to come out tops in a game even when they are not playing well has cost them dearly this season.
‘It should have been three or four nil [to Villarreal] in the first leg,’ Parlour said in a chat with TalkSport after the 2-1 aggregate defeat.
‘They’d had a man sent off, then they were 2-0 up. Arsenal got a goal out of nothing with a penalty, which was a bit dubious the way he went down Saka but he got them back in the game.
‘So come on, you’ve done the hard bit now. You’ve got the away goal, let’s really go for it at home. ‘That’s what was the most disappointing thing, for me, the manner of how they went out of the competition – it wasn’t good enough.
‘Mikel Arteta is apologising… you’ve got to have players on the pitch taking the game by the scruff of the neck. ‘Come on this is a massive game for us, this is our future to get into European football next year – I know they’ve got to beat Manchester United in the final but it gives you a chance.
‘When a manager picks a team, you cross that white line… you can’t rely on managers. They can make substitutions at right moments in games but it’s down to the players who are paid lots of money to say,
“Right this is how we win the game today”. ‘It’s not going to be pretty but this is how we win the game. There’s loads of occasions I’ve played in games when we didn’t play well but we managed to get results out of nothing.
‘I can’t see this group of players doing that. When they play poorly, they get beat. When they play really well, they win the game. There’s no in between.’