Nicolas Pepe scored twice in the second half as Arsenal beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 in their last Premier League game of the season on Sunday, but Mikel Arteta’s side failed to qualify for the Europa Conference League after finishing eighth.
On a frenzied final day, Arsenal finished one point below north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who beat Leicester City 4-2 to seal seventh place and advance to the new third tier European competition. .
Arsenal finished the season strong with five trotting wins to finish with 61 points, five more than last season, but they will not take part in European competition for the first time in 25 years.
“It’s frustrating because last season with 61 points you were fifth and now you are eighth,” Arteta told reporters.
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Arsenal dominated possession in the first half and almost opened the scoring, but Rob Holding’s free-kick goal was ruled out for offside while center partner Gabriel saw his floating header come off the crossbar.
Pepe put Arsenal ahead four minutes into the restart, controlling a low cross from Calum Chambers with his left foot before unleashing a fierce strike with his right foot past Robert Sanchez into Brighton’s goal.
Arsenal doubled the advantage when Martin Odegaard freed Pepe in the right channel and the Ivorian striker rallied to complete a low finish inside the far post for his 10th league goal of the season.
Odegaard is returning to his parent club Real Madrid and Arteta has said he hopes they’ve done enough for the 22-year-old Norwegian to consider a return after an impressive few months at the club.
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“We have a very clear opinion on what we would like, but it is not our player,” said Arteta.
“We tried to do everything we could to make Martin perform well for the team. I hope we gave him a feeling that this could be a good place for him.”