Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has three lucky players after Benfica Europa League win

Arsenal v Benfica: Match in pictures

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will be delighted after his side’s win over Benfica. The Gunners crept through to the Europa League round of 16 with a hard-fought win in Athens. And while they’ll be delighted with the victory, it wasn’t a vintage display. 

Arsenal went into the game against Benfica knowing victory on home turf would send them through.

Their night got off to the dream start when Aubameyang struck, with the Gabon international keeping his cool to finish.

Benfica, however, turned the game around.

Diogo Goncalves equalised, with Rafa Silva then keeping his cool to complete the comeback.

Arsenal were able to respond through Tierney and, late on, Aubameyang grabbed his second of the game to give the Gunners a crucial victory.

So Express Sport will now take a look at the three players who disappointed as Arteta’s side snuck through.

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Dani Ceballos

Let’s start with the obvious.

With the game delicately poised, Arsenal didn’t need to make any rash decisions.

However, Dani Ceballos clearly didn’t get the memo – with the Spain international producing a horrendous header that led to Silva’s strike.


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The midfielder, on loan for the second season running from Real Madrid, didn’t get enough power on the header and it allowed Benfica to score.

For a while it looked as though it would be costly but Ceballos, and Arsenal, got away with one. 

Martin Odegaard

Arsenal signed Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid back in the January transfer window.

And the Norway international produced a drab display in Athens, looking devoid of creativity as the Gunners crashed out.

Of course, it’s still early into his time with the club.

But Arsenal couldn’t afford for anybody to struggle against Benfica and Odegaard, at times, looked as though the match was passing him by.

They’ll need him to get back to his best, quick, if they’re to climb up the Premier League table and go on to win the prize. 

Emile Smith Rowe

Emile Smith Rowe is still early into his Arsenal career.

He’s been one of their better players since the turn of the year, taking the Premier League by storm with some electric displays.

But, against Benfica, he was anonymous.

It was no surprise when his number came up, with Willian thrown on as his replacement and making an immediate impact.

The ‘Croydon Kevin De Bruyne’ isn’t at the level of the Manchester City star just yet and this will be a valuable learning experience. 

He’ll be delighted as anybody to have another European night to look forward to. 

Arsenal next five fixtures:

Leicester – Premier League – February 28

Burnley – Premier League – March 6

Tottenham – Premier League – March 14

West Ham – Premier League – March 21

Liverpool – Premier League – April 3

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