Arsenal FC v SL Benfica  - UEFA Europa League Round Of 32 Leg Two
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Arsenal boss Arteta explains why he did not use Pepe and Martinelli yesterday

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was a happy man last night after his side dramatically got the better of Benfica.

The Gunners needed two goals in about 30 minutes to avoid getting knocked out of the Europa League. Kieran Tierney popped up with one in the 67th minute and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the winner just a few minutes before full time.

Arsenal fans are absolutely delighted with the result and so is Arteta. His substitutions worked brilliantly last night as both Willian and Thomas Partey played a big part in our comeback.

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Arteta was asked about his decision to bring Willian on instead of Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli, who would both have been the supporters’ choice to come on ahead of the former Chelsea man.

The Arsenal boss has revealed that he left them on the bench for a reason.

He said, as per “Because there wasn’t much space to run in behind. It was a really tight two lines, 4-4-1-1, or 5-3-2 at times. They were a really, really low block, not much space to run apart from when they set the line around the 18-yard box.

“You need people to unlock that, with special qualities in tight spaces to create movement and I think Willi was really helpful tonight.”

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Arsenal Insider’s view:

There were a few moans on social media when Arteta decided to bring Willian on instead of Pepe or Martinelli, but the Arsenal boss was right.

Benfica were a really hard side to break down. Pepe and Martinelli would have caused them a few problems if there was space to exploit, but considering how organised their players were, the Arsenal pair wouldn’t have had much joy.

Willian came in and proved almost everyone wrong. His movement was very good and his assist to Kieran Tierney helped us win the game. Hopefully, he can now kick on and show the world why Arsenal went above and beyond to sign him last summer.

Photo by Stuart MacFarlane./Arsenal FC via Getty Images
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