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Arteta explains Arsenal’s £200m finance approach with “more difficult” confession

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Mikel Arteta has admitted life will be much harder for Arsenal this season as he opened up on the decision to spend heavily again this summer.

Kai Havertz joined from Chelsea for £62million, with Jurrien Timber arriving from Ajax for £40m. But the biggest deal by far has been the club-record move for Declan Rice, with the Gunners paying West Ham a fee of £105m for their captain.

Arteta could yet add to his squad further, with the Gunners’ summer spending already blowing past the £200m mark. But the Arsenal boss has insisted such a high level of spending was necessary, with the challenge from rival teams in the title race set to get even harder

Mikel Arteta didn’t speak to William Saliba for a week in ‘cold shoulder’ approach

Martin Odegaard gives first impressions on Arsenal’s new signings including Declan Rice
“It will be more difficult for sure, because the league is going to go to a different level again, which is already incredible. And obviously playing the Champions League, which we haven’t played in many years at the club,” he told ESPN.

“That’s why we need a different squad from what we had last year, I think what we’ve done this summer is related to that, and more quality as well, for sure. [Havertz] is a player I have admired for a long time and we had the possibility of bringing him to the club.

“We had a few chats about how he was feeling about it, and I was convinced he was the player and type of personality that we want in the team and to take us forward. [Rice] brings leadership, an aura and he brings special qualities that we didn’t have in our midfield.

“Obviously, he has good experience in the league, he’s already done a lot at 24 years old, but he has something – I saw that for a long time with him – he has that personality, that way of thinking, the way he plays for his teammates and the way he’s capable of controlling matches.”

Arteta is confident that the summer of spending can put the Gunners in a good position to win silverware this season. They last won a trophy in 2020, with the FA Cup, and Arteta knows the pressure is on to add to the trophy cabinet.

““We know that, but at the end it will be about playing better and earning the right to win every single match the way we play. In order to do that there are things we have to improve and work on in pre-season and that’s what we are doing,” the Arsenal boss said after signing Rice.

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European Leagues

Europa League leading scorers ahead of semi-final fixtures

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Marseille’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the leading scorer in this season’s UEFA Europa League ahead of the semi-final fixtures in May

Marseille’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the leading scorer in this season’s UEFA Europa League ahead of the semi-final fixtures in May.

The former Arsenal captain is ahead of Roma’s Romelu Lukaku and Brighton’s João Pedro on the goal chart.

The Gabonese has ten goals to his name so far.

UEFA Europa League top scorers ahead of semi-final fixtures:

10 goals – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Marseille)

7 goals – Romelu Lukaku (Roma)

6 goals – João Pedro (Brighton)

5 goals – Victor Boniface (Leverkusen), Michael Gregoritsch (Freiburg), Viktor Gyökeres (Sporting CP), Fotis Ioannidis (Panathinaikos), Juninho (Qarabağ), Mohammed Kudus (West Ham), Darwin Núñez (Liverpool), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Gianluca Scamacca (Atalanta) and Patrik Schick (Leverkusen).

Meanwhile, Marseille will face Atalanta in the semi-final stage, while Bayer Leverkusen will tackle AS Roma.

 

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Liverpool defeat Atalanta 1-0 but crash out of Europa League on aggregate

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Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta with the Italian side reaching the semi-finals 3-1 on aggregate on Thursday.

Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta with the Italian side reaching the semi-finals 3-1 on aggregate on Thursday.

Atalanta are in the last four of a European competition for the first time since 1988, despite Mohamed Salah’s early penalty giving Liverpool a 1-0 second leg win, thanks to their three-goal lead established in the quarter-final first leg at Anfield last week.

In what is becoming a sobering climax to the season, Liverpool have won just three of their last nine games in all competitions and again looked tired after already having played 52 games this campaign.

Jurgen Klopp may well only have the League Cup to show for his final season on Merseyside as the German’s team have been eliminated from the FA Cup and Europa League and trail Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Gian Piero Gasperini called Thursday’s match probably the most important Atalanta had ever played and his players were hailed as heroes at the final whistle by a pulsating crowd at the Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo.

Fireworks were shot into the air from behind the stands while in the ground supporters bounced and roared at a huge victory for their team against giants of European football.

Atalanta last reached the semi-finals of a European competition in 1988 when they were knocked out of the old Cup Winners’ Cup by Mechelen.

Atalanta were then a Serie B team but the future is increasingly bright for a historically small, provincial club which has been punching well above its weight ever since Gasperini took charge in 2016.

Reaching the last four even trumps their run to 2020 Champions League quarter-finals, where they were desperately unlucky to lose to Paris Saint-Germain.

That run came at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, as Bergamo became the epicentre of a deadly global health crisis.

And Atalanta still have the opportunity to crown Gasperini’s reign with the club’s first major trophy since the Italian Cup in 1963.

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Bayer Leverkusen qualify for Europa League semis after edging West Ham

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Newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen reached the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday and stretched their undefeated

Newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen reached the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday and stretched their undefeated run in all competitions this season to 44 matches.

The German side drew 1-1 at West Ham in the second leg of their quarter-final tie and went through 3-1 on aggregate.

Michail Antonio put West Ham ahead on 13 minutes before Jeremie Frimpong levelled in the 89th minute for Xabi Alonso’s side.

Bayer Leverkusen will face Roma for a place in the final.

“I think we felt it in the first half, for me, it was a typical English crowd. They were pushing West Ham unbelievably. We were lucky in the first half if we’re honest,” Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Granit Xhaka told TNT Sports.

“It was a different phase in the second half, we controlled the game. We are happy we got through.

“We competed much more. If you see over 180 minutes, the better team go through.”

Last weekend, Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga for the first time, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year grip on the title.

They remain in contention for a treble trophy haul this season as they also face second-division Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final on May 25.

 

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