Premier League • England

Mikel Arteta remains ‘very proud’ of Arsenal players despite crushing Champions League blow

Mikel Arteta celebrating for Arsenal

Mikel Arteta believes his Arsenal team should be ‘very proud’ of the way they bounced back from the debacle at Newcastle to hammer Everton on the final day of the season.

Arteta’s men needed to beat the Toffees and hope Tottenham lost at already relegated Norwich, but Spurs’ 5-0 win at Carrow Road meant the Gunners missed out on a top-four spot for a sixth successive season.

The hosts took the lead midway through the first half through Gabriel Martinelli’s penalty before Eddie Nketiah nodded in following a corner to extend their advantage.

Substitute Donny van de Beek side-footed in to make a game of it before half-time before further goals from Cedric Soares, Gabriel and Martin Odegaard sealed a big Arsenal win.

Speaking after the game, Arteta told Sky Sports: “It was really positive game. At the end it was a really positive goal, we enjoyed it with our supporters once more.”

Asked if there was a drop in performance with Everton’s goal at half-time, he added: “I don’t know. Obviously we had the game at the back of our hands. We had to depend on the result, but we did what we had to do.

“After Monday I was in such pain the way we conceded that game because this game was something different. We have to be very proud, we have the energy and the momentum for what we want to achieve. I’m extremely grateful.”

Soares embraces Europa League

Arsenal goalscorer Soares added: “I think we all deserve this, our fans deserve this. It was a long run, I think we reached a very high level. This is the level we are on and most of the season and we showed it.”

Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka Arsenal v Everton celeb

On controlling procession, he added: “Individuals were working hard. We knew it was going to be tough but we controlled most of the game. That one goal we didn’t deserve in that moment they [Everton] had strength as well, but we showed great character in the second half.”

As for his own goal, Soares said: “Today we were in the lift and there were four or five players and I was the only one who hasn’t scored this season and they said ‘today is your day’ and it actually happened. We are cheering for each other and this will definitely help achieve more goals.”

It’s now Europa League for the Gunners and Soares believes they need to embrace the competition.

He added: “We always look for more and this is the mentality in the club. We never stop fighting for places. But I think we have a chance to play Europa League football next season. We’ll grab it with both hands.”

REPORT: Arsenal miss out on Champions League spot but finish in style after hammering Everton