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Martin Odegaard says Arsenal must use the pain of last season’s near-miss to fuel a renewed push for the Premier League title.
The north Londoners enjoyed a campaign to remember under Mikel Arteta, only for perennial champions Manchester City to pip them to top spot at the death.
It was a galling end to a promising season for Arsenal, whose captain Odegaard says the ultimate disappointment will spur them on as they look to topple Pep Guardiola’s men.
“We have to use it,” he said. “The end of the season was tough for us and very painful after leading for so long.
“That is always going to hurt but we have to use it in a good way to come back stronger and be even more motivated and even hungrier.
“That’s what we did last year after we missed the Champions League the year before. We came back stronger and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Asked if it was hard to erase last season, Odegaard said: “It was difficult to be honest. We were very close and had the big dream and goal to win something.
You have to deal with it in a good way and move on and that’s what we’re going to do as a team
“To be so close to doing it with this team is always going to hurt but you have to deal with it in a good way and move on and that’s what we’re going to do as a team. That is the only way.”
Arsenal have not wallowed in self-pity since falling short in the title race.
Instead, they have gone on an eye-catching spending spree bringing in Kai Havertz, Jurrien Timber and £105million Declan Rice.
“Every time I played against him I saw the quality,” Odegaard said of the former West Ham skipper.
“He’s a leader as well so it’s great for me to work together and hopefully we can help each other a lot.
“Every time I played him it was a tough one. We had some tough battles so I’m happy to have him on the team and hopefully we can find a good connection very quickly.
“I think his presence in the game (stands out). He’s good on the ball, he can take it forward and physically he’s very strong.
“He’s good in many areas, is physical and is a leader so a lot of areas.”