Martin Odegaard has said Arsenal have “no hope” of overhauling Manchester City in the Premier League title race following defeat at home to Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Gunners topped the table for a large portion of the season, but Manchester City were relentless in their pursuit and moved to the summit at the end of April.
City beat Everton earlier on Sunday to pile pressure on Arsenal, and The Gunners blinked at home as Brighton dominated them and were deserved winners.
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Arsenal are still mathematically in the race, but Odegaard feels City have gone beyond recall as Pep Guardiola’s side lead by four points with a game in hand.
“It is a tough one to take,” Odegaard told Sky Sports. “It is not a good feeling at the moment, the way we played, especially in the second half.
“I don’t know what happened to be honest, but it is a big, big disappointment and it feels like there is no hope now.
“In the first half we did a lot of good things, created some big chances. Then in the second half, we gave them more and more momentum. They are dangerous when they go direct – especially on our right where they attacked us a bit too easy in behind.
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“It is hard to say at the moment but we could have done a lot better.”
Arsenal went into the game on the back of a brilliant win over Newcastle at St James’ Park, and Odegaard was at a loss to explain the performance.
“We wanted to come here and continue like we have done in the last two games, get a good result and keep pushing,” the Norwegian said. “That was the target, but I do not have any good answers to tell you what happened. It is a big, big disappointment.
“I felt we were good going into the game, but in the game it was a different story and we have to accept that and learn from it.”
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta issued an apology to the club’s fans, but refused to throw in the towel.
“We gave a silly goal away, and after that the team had no answers to respond to the challenge,” Arteta told beIN SPORTS. “We made big mistakes, we have to look ourselves in the mirror and digest what happened today.
“Today we are upset, there are two games to go, mathematically it is not impossible, and we have to perform better than today.”
Asked for his views on Arsenal fans leaving the Emirates before the final whistle, Arteta said: “The expectations are high, we have created those expectations. A week ago I was standing here and feeling very proud of the team. Today we have to apologise, that’s for sure, for that performance.”
Arsenal have a huge summer ahead
Arsenal have spent much of the season at the top of the table so it is understandable many of their fans will be hurting right now over a missed opportunity.
But there has still been big progress, with Arteta’s side sealing a return to the Champions League for the first time in six years.
“Arsenal don’t have the strength and depth of Manchester City,” former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane said. “They have come up short. It’s as simple as that.
“They need to get the right players with the right character so if they get in this position again, pole position, they will have a chance to see it through.”
Arsenal have two games left of the current campaign before a huge summer begins in which they will look to recruit the right players to ensure they are better equipped to overcome the hurdles they stumbled at this season.