Mikel Arteta calls on Arsenal to be more ‘ruthless’ after spurning ‘big chances’ against Benfica

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was left to rue his team’s lack of clinical edge, after a 1-1 draw with Benfica in the Europa League round-of-32 first leg.

The game was played on neutral territory in Rome, but was the Gunners’ away leg – making Bukayo Saka’s equaliser all the more important.

There should have been at least another goal or two to celebrate, though, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang particularly profligate on the night and Arteta warned his side that missing such opportunities will prove costly on the Continental stage.

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“We were very dominant, created big chances and you have to be more ruthless away from home in Europe,” he told BT Sport.

“It’s all to play for but we could be in a much better position.”

It wasn’t only in the attacking third of the pitch where the Spanish boss felt his team were below their best level.

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Pizzi’s penalty gave Benfica the lead before Saka’s rapid response, but rather than focus on whether it was a harsh decision to penalise Emile Smith Rowe for handball, Arteta pointed out that Arsenal’s defending in the build-up to the original chance needed to improve.

“We gave them the goal. For me the decision is where we gave away the corner in an area you can’t play.

“We didn’t react quick enough and concede the penalty – it’s difficult to judge whether the ball bounced before hitting Emile’s body [but] we reacted and created good chances. Overall we should leave the ground with more.”

The Gunners are back in action against Manchester City at the weekend in the Premier League, before the second leg against Benfica takes place next Thursday.

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