Mertens not accepting Arsenal’s superiority despite loss

S.S.C. Napoli v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final : Second Leg
NAPLES, ITALY - APRIL 18: Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the UEFA Europa League Quarter Final Second Leg match between S.S.C. Napoli and Arsenal at Stadio San Paolo on April 18, 2019 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Dries Mertens has failed to give Arsenal credit for booking a place in the last four of the Europa League after beating Napoli 1-0 at the Stadio San Paolo.

The Partenopei lost 2-0 at the Emirates in the first leg of the encounter and were heavily tipped to overturn the deficit considering Arsenal’s poor away.

However, those hopes were snuffed out when Lacazette grabbed an early lead for the visitors which they maintained throughout the tie.

“The first 10-15 minutes, we had a few chances to score and that would’ve changed everything,” the Belgian told Sky Sport Italia.

“We conceded a goal and our heads dropped. We said in the locker room that we still believed, because Arsenal aren’t that good. There isn’t a real gap between us. We got it very wrong at the Emirates and that ruined everything.

“We weren’t well set out, Arsenal took advantage and we tried everything to make up for it, but they defended well.”

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Mertens was asked what Napoli still needed to compete in Europe and he hinted at some jeers from the crowd.

“I don’t know what we are lacking. We have to realise we are normal players, we’re doing well and the fans mustn’t criticise us. We are second, we went out of the Champions League by one goal. Let’s get our feet on the ground and look forward.”

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