Arteta admits Arsenal not ‘ruthless’ enough; Saka reveals key to progress

Date published: Thursday 18th February 2021 10:51 - Samuel Bannister

Mikel Arteta admitted that Arsenal should have got more than a draw from their Europa League clash with Benfica.

The first leg of their Round of 32 clash ended as a 1-1 draw, leaving the tie in the balance ahead of next week’s return fixture.

Bukayo Saka provided the instant response for Arsenal after they went behind to a Pizzi penalty.

But there were other chances for the Gunners – with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang notably missing a sitter in the first half. It left Arteta wondering what might have been if they had been more ruthless.

“We were very dominant and created some big chances,” he told BT Sport. “We have to be more ruthless.

“It was disappointing the way we conceded the goal. We gave them the ball, then it was 1-1 and all to play for.

“We conceded a corner, then from the corner we did not react quick enough and conceded the penalty. Looking at it, it’s difficult to judge.

“We had a great reaction and scored a great goal. We tried to maintain the level. Both teams dropped in the last 20 minutes.

“But overall we should leave the ground with more.”

Saka seeks further progression

Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring a goal for Arsenal against Benfica.

Arteta’s sentiments were echoed by the man who did score for Arsenal, with Saka admitting his side could have won.

“We had a lot of chances,” the wide man told BT. “We dominated the whole game.

“They got a lucky penalty which I don’t think was. We had to react well. We got a goal back and could have gone on to win it.

“It’s not the worst result, we got an away goal.

“It was good inter-play [for the goal]. We managed to switch the ball and it was a good finish by myself so I’m happy with the goal.”

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Teenager Saka has now reached 10 goals for Arsenal across all competitions since his debut. He is eager to keep developing at all aspects of his game.

“I feel like I’m improving every game,” he said. “I’m trying to impress, trying to learn and listen to the boss because he gives great advice.

“I’m grateful to have a good team and good family around me. I just want to keep progressing.”

The England international also believes he knows the key to securing qualification next week.

“It is about managing the game,” he added. “Last year when we went out to Olympiakos we conceded a silly goal.

“We can’t put a foot wrong because if we do we will make it difficult for ourselves.”

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