Granit Xhaka disappointed Arsenal face another painful Europa League campaign
Granit Xhaka is disappointed to be facing another painful season in the Europa League after Arsenal’s humiliating final loss to Chelsea.
Having spent so many years in the Champions League under Arsene Wenger, the Gunners will have to prepare for a third-straight campaign away from European football’s top table.
A poor end to the season meant Arsenal stuttered home fifth in the Premier League, but the Europa League final in Baku offered them a second chance to qualify.
However, Eden Hazard’s brace complemented goals from Olivier Giroud and Pedro at the sparsely-filled Baku Olympic Stadium to make Alex Iwobi’s stunning strike a mere footnote in a 4-1 Chelsea win.
It was a galling end to Unai Emery’s first season in charge, leaving Arsenal facing another arduous season in the Europa League.
Asked if it was painful to be in the competition again, Arsenal midfielder Xhaka said: “Yeah, of course because I think we had a good season – if you take off the five last games in the Premier League.
“We had a second chance to come back and go to the Champions League but if you don’t take your chances, you will stay in the Europa League.
“You can say a lot now but it is not the time to explain why and what happens. We lost today. I don’t want to speak about the last five weeks or 10 weeks.
“I think today was a big chance for us, we didn’t take it.”
Few would have predicted such a big Chelsea win as Arsenal edged a tepid first half.
Alexandre Lacazette saw a penalty appeal ignored and Xhaka’s long-range strike skimmed the bar, only for the Gunners’ soft underbelly to be exposed after the break.
“We opened the game too fast in the second half,” Switzerland international Xhaka said. “After 1-0, you still have 45 minutes to come back.
“After, with the individual class from Chelsea, they can change the game.
“In my opinion, I think we have Chelsea, over 60, 70 minutes, good in our hands.
“We had chances as well but I said before, we made too many mistakes and if you have played like Chelsea have…”
Arsenal boss Emery did not say anything to the group in the dressing room after Chelsea ran amok, with retiring goalkeeper Petr Cech preventing his former side making matters even worse.
There is speculation that the likes of Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny could follow Cech and Juventus-bound Aaron Ramsey out of the club this summer, but Xhaka is not getting too het up about the future.
“I don’t know what happens with the club, what is the plan of the club,” he added.
“Of course, we are hungry. Maybe we don’t show each other we are hungry but inside we have a lot of players who are hungry if we lose.”