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Arsenal fell short, says an inconsolable Mikel Arteta

His players shared the pain, but goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale also struck a positive note going forward.

“Deep down we know what we have achieved. When the dust settles we will be proud but this is a learning curve for us. It is a season to be proud of for Arsenal,” he said.

“It’s a disappointing end. We have one more game and we need to put a smile back on the fans’ faces.”

City’s title triumph, meanwhile, could be the start of a treble as Guardiola’s men face Manchester United in the FA Cup final and Inter Milan in the Champions League final in June.

They also become just the fifth side to win three consecutive English top-flight titles.

City’s ascent to the dominant force of the English game since an Abu Dhabi-backed takeover transformed the club’s fortunes in 2008 has been accelerated during Guardiola’s reign.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has now won 11 league titles in 14 seasons as a coach.

“The Premier League is without doubt the most demanding and competitive league in the world so that tells you everything about what an achievement this is,” said City captain Ilkay Gundogan in a club statement.

“This squad is so talented and so special and to have been captain this season has been an enormous privilege.” REUTERS, AFP

LONDON – Mikel Arteta graciously congratulated Manchester City for winning the Premier League on Saturday, but there was no concealing his agony after his Arsenal side had led the title race for so long but lost form in the crucial run-in.

Eight points clear two months ago, the Gunners won only two of their last eight games, with the 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest handing the title to Pep Guardiola’s unstoppable side.

“It’s a really sad day. We fell short,” a grim-faced Arteta said at the City Ground.

“I congratulate Man City. They are the champions, they deserved to win. I apologise because we have generated that belief that we could do it, but we were unable to and that is my responsibility.

“Today we should have played much better. We gave them a goal. When you come to April and May, you need 24 players playing at their best, full of confidence and ready to go, and for many reasons we have not had that.”

Arteta, who used to work as an assistant under Guardiola at City, has however achieved a remarkable turnaround in form for Arsenal, who are a comfortable second in arguably the world’s toughest league.

They led the standings for 248 days this season – the most for any team who have then failed to win the Premier League.

“It has been an incredible journey for us over 10 months competing with City, being ahead of them for so long. We were so eager to go for something in sport and we didn’t reach it,” Arteta added.

“We have learnt huge lessons. We have transformed a lot at this club, we have made huge steps, but the icing on the cake is to win a championship and we fell short.”

The Arsenal boss also said it was too early and raw to start talking about next season’s goals.

“Today, it is just sadness,” he said.

“We wanted to find a way, to squeeze everything we had in that group... At the end, it wasn’t enough. I know we are not at that level (of City), but we have to find a way, we have to find other ways to do it. For example, today we should have played much better. We have to push.

“We are yet to win. I want to win. I love winning. And when you don’t get there, it’s painful. We have conceded a lot of goals, you can’t sustain that and win this league.

“Now we must heal. It is very painful. I have to find a way to lift the players and we have a tough week ahead of us.”