On a day when Arsenal fans protested again, Mikel Arteta defended the Kroenke family, calling them “passionate” about the club.

Arsenal beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 in their final Premier League home game of the season on Sunday, thanks to two goals from Nicolas Pepe.

There were 10,000 fans inside Emirates Stadium to watch the game, and many of them expressed their displeasure with the Kroenke family. Supporters screamed “we hate Kroenke” as they held up bits of paper and dropped balloons with the words “Kroenke down” on them onto the pitch.

Fans have been critical of Stan Kroenke and his son Josh’s control of Arsenal, which has increased in the aftermath of their involvement in the unsuccessful European Super League project.

Josh Kroenke was in attendance for the game, and the American spoke with Arteta before the game, and Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger defended him afterward.

At a post-match press conference, Arteta said, “He’s very supportive, very excited about the club. He aspires to move the club to the next level. That’s his goal, and it’s why he’s here.”

Arsenal finished eighth in the league, behind north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, whom they have not beaten since 2016. Spurs pipped Arsenal to the Europa League Conference, meaning Arsenal would miss out on European competition for the first time since 1995-96.

“I’m disappointed we are not in Europe. We made gains in terms of points. It’s disappointing because you were fifth last season with 61 points and now you’re eighth. It tells you what amount you need to reach. We won five games in a row, but it wasn’t enough. I’m sorry to end the season because this team deserves to win titles and play in the Champions League. We haven’t been able to do so.

We wanted to hold together and give it our everything. It hasn’t been sufficient. Now we must be very skeptical of ourselves and me. Prepare the best you can for next season and take advantage of it. Hopefully, we will have a pre-season. I haven’t had one in a long time. And I have the opportunity to practice with those players to do a great job,” Arteta said.

Arsenal is still a “healthy spot” for Martin Odegaard. According to Arteta, he is unsure whether the club will make the on-loan Real Madrid player’s move permanent.

In 14 Premier League appearances this season, Odegaard has one goal and two assists.

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