Mikel Arteta described Arsenal’s form in the last six months as “an incredible run” after a 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace kept their hopes of qualifying for Europe alive.
West Ham’s win at West Brom means that the highest Arsenal can finish, should they beat Brighton and Hove Albion on the final day of the season and both Tottenham and Everton fail to win, is seventh.
That would earn them a place in the Europa Conference League play-off round, with West Ham’s result ruling Arsenal out of both major European club competitions for the first time since 1995-96.
But Arteta recalled a run of seven winless Premier League matches towards the end of 2020 as he reflected on the improvement in their season.
“If somebody would have said to us in November or December when we were in the position that we were in that we were going to have the chance to qualify for Europe, we’d have said you are crazy,” the Gunners boss said. “But we’ve done it.
“I think with the results and the number of points we have managed to get in the months, we have earned the right to be in that position. Now it’s time to deliver on the final day but unfortunately, it’s not in our hands.”
Arteta praised Nicolas Pepe for his role in the win at Selhurst Park and in helping to revive Arsenal’s campaign.
Let’s give it up for Nico tonight… pic.twitter.com/FCD2zp3Nia
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 19, 2021
Pepe opened the scoring with a close-range volley and capped the victory with a mazy dribble and finish for his side’s third.
Arteta said of the 25-year-old Ivorian: “It’s my feeling and it’s everybody’s feeling in the coaching staff, and his own feeling that he’s come a long way this season.
“He hasn’t had the consistency sometimes in the gametime, but I think in Europe he’s been terrific and in the Premier League he’s started to show much more what he’s like, and he’s very hungry.
“I think he’s changed a lot in his mentality and his willingness to do much more.”
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