Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was a frustrated man after his side were beaten by Unai Emery’s Villarreal in the first leg of our Europa League semi-final last night.
The hosts went 2-0 up after 29 minutes thanks to some really sloppy play from the Gunners. Things went from bad to worse after the break as Dani Ceballos got himself a red card, and fans started to fear the worst.
Surprisingly, Arsenal started to play better after getting reduced down to 10 men. Our passing was a lot better, and it almost looked like we suddenly found the courage that we lacked in the first half.
Bukayo Saka didn’t have the best of games last night, but he still managed to make the headlines. The youngster won a penalty in the second half and that gave us the away goal that could prove to be the difference in the second leg next week.
Arteta was asked about the teenager bailing his side out and the Arsenal boss urged his players to stop relying on Saka to produce the moments of magic that he has done on so many occasions this season.
He told BT Sport: “We are very used to that (Saka playing well) this season, but it tells us we need to do much more in other areas as we cannot always rely on him. We needed a moment of magic and he produced that again (by winning the crucial penalty).”
The Insider’s View:
Saka has bailed us out time and time again over the last eight months. He is arguably the best young player in the Premier League at the moment, but Arteta is right, we can’t expect him to produce his ‘magic’ in every game.
It’s time for everyone else to step and luckily for us, Nicolas Pepe has been very good for us in recent games. He is offering us something different from that left flank, and if he can continue his form, he will be a big threat.
As for the return leg next week, Arsenal should have Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kieran Tierney and David Luiz all ready to start. That will make a massive difference to our squad, and hopefully, that will be enough to get past Villarreal.