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Gunners Boss Mikel Arteta Reacts On Aubamayeng Clear Chance Misses Against Benfica



Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta defends Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after missed chances against Benfica.

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang spurned three big chances against Benfica

Mikel Arteta said Arsenal left their Europa League last-32 tie ‘open’ with a lack of ‘ruthlessness’ in front of goal against Benfica but insisted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was ‘unlucky’ with his missed chances in the first leg. Aubameyang passed up a golden opportunity to break the deadlock as he side-footed wide of the post from close range midway through the first half and Emile Smith Rowe’s handball inside the area saw Pizzi give Benfica the lead from the penalty spot in the 55th minute.

Bukayo Saka, arguably the Gunners’ player of the season at the halfway stage, found an immediate equaliser just two minutes later to set up an enthralling final half-hour in Rome.

And while two more chances fell to Aubameyang, the Arsenal captain dragged the first wide of Helton Leite’s post before having the ball stolen from him by Lucas Verissimo for the second and the match finished all square. It leaves the tie finely poised ahead of next week’s second leg at the Emirates and a frustrated Arteta felt his team should have come away from the Stadio Olimpico with more than a draw.

‘I think we had to leave the stadium with much more than what we have right now,’ the Spaniard told reporters at his post-match press conference.

‘Everything is completely open until next Thursday. We have some positives to take from the game because we dominated the game and we had patches of really good moments where we created some big chances. ‘We weren’t ruthless enough in the opponents’ box and the disappointing thing, obviously, is the way we concede the goal.’ 

On Aubameyang’s missed chances, Arteta said:

‘These things happen. ‘He was at the end of the biggest chances we had, he was a real threat against this opponent with the line they propose all the time. ‘He was unlucky not to score two or three tonight because in normal circumstances that would have been the case.’

Saka was once again in inspired form for the north London club and the youngster took his goals tally to six in all competitions with his 57th-minute strike.

‘He’s in a great moment, he’s full of confidence and he’s been really important in the recent results,’ Arteta said when asked about Saka’s display. ‘His form is the highest probably that it’s been since I’ve been here and he’s been really consistent. ‘He needs to keep going and keep doing what he’s doing because at the moment he’s a big part of the team




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Robin van Persie & the red card that cost Arsenal dearly in 2011



Remember when Arsenal were good? No, didn’t think so.


Joking aside, 2011 brings bittersweet memories for Gunners fans and, rose-tinted spectacles or not, most of them would snap your hand off if offered to go back to those times. Yes, even with Marouane Chamakh on the books and Jens Lehmann back in the squad.


Having completed an iconic 2-1 comeback win against Barcelona in front of a raucous Emirates Stadium, Arsenal felt invincible once again. A Jack Wilshere masterclass and a winning goal from Andrey Arshavin (who the streets will never forget) saw them take one step towards the Champions League quarter final, having schooled the competition favourites in a mighty and characterful display in north London.


With the second leg date set for 8 March 2011, Arsenal had a few weeks in between where they had the chance to win some silverware in preparation for the big trip to Barcelona, facing Birmingham in the League Cup final on 27 February.


Arsenal took the lead through Robin van Persie, but a last minute winner halted the Gunners in their pursuit of the trophy, because that’s what Arsenal do best. Not to panic, though, because the trip to Spain was waiting and all would be forgotten when the Gunners ran wild on Camp Nou, even if there were doubts over Van Persie’s fitness.


Barcelona were out for revenge having had a win in London stolen from under their eyes. They won all four games they played in between the two legs, and arrived at Camp Nou in March ready to throw everything they had at Arsenal.



It was going well for the Gunners after kick off, until Wojciech Szczesny was injured after saving a free kick from Dani Alves – one that was so hard it dislocated his finger and forced Arsenal into a substitution. Manuel Almunia came on and did well, but that was a sign that it would be a tough night at the office.


Arsenal’s defence had managed to limit the numbers of chances afforded to Lionel Messi in the first half, but he found a way through in injury time to give La Blaugrana the lead, majestically dinking the ball over Almunia before tapping home to level the aggregate score line.


Arsene Wenger’s side came out with intent after the break, and a bullet header from Sergio Busquets of all people saw the ball rifle into the back of his own net and restore Arsenal’s lead.


Then disaster struck.


Three minutes later, Van Persie was adjudged to be offside when he latched onto Cesc Fabregas’ through ball and fired just wide. For continuing to play on and taking the shot after the referee had blown his whistle, the Dutchman received a second yellow card and was sent off in bizarre fashion, leaving Arsenal down to 10 men and without their talisman. His face said it all – he was bewildered as to why he was being dismissed.


A furious Van Persie appealed to referee Massimo Busacca, explaining that he didn’t hear the whistle amid the cheers and jeers of a full Camp Nou as he burst through on goal. The ref was having none of it, though, and Arsenal capitulated while Barça seized the opportunity.


Andres Iniesta turned up the heat in the middle of the park, slaloming past a number of players to assist Xavi and level the aggregate score at 3-3 after 69 minutes. Messi gave his side the lead two minutes later from 12 yards after Laurent Koscielny tripped Pedro inside the box, and that was it.


The Gunners turned to a substitute Nicklas Bendtner, who couldn’t find a heroic winning goal for his side- obviously – and Barcelona strolled into the quarter finals winning 3-1 on the night.


Speaking after the final whistle, Van Persie hailed the decision as a ‘total joke’ and lambasted the referee for being poor and against Arsenal all night, having ‘killed the game’ with his performance.



The defeat was a kick in the teeth for Arsenal, who had gone from being favourites to win the League Cup and knock out Barcelona in the Champions League to a side left bereft by two damaging defeats.


To make matters worse, the injury to Szczesny resulted in 41-year-old Jens Lehmann being dragged out of retirement as Almunia was the only fit keeper at the club – what a way to end a whirlwind few weeks, eh?


It’s difficult to say with any certainty- particularly with a team consisting of Chamakh, Bendtner and the aforementioned German pensioner – whether Arsenal would have become European champions had they beaten Barça. But one thing is for sure – Van Persie’s dismissal cost them dearly on the night, and instead of Arsene Wenger lifting the Champions League high above his head, it was Pep Guardiola.



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Mikel Arteta demands answers over ‘obvious’ penalty Arsenal were denied in Burnley draw



Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was left fuming following his side’s 1-1 draw with Burnley at Turf Moor because of the ‘obvious and clear’ penalty the Spaniard thought the Gunners should have been awarded.


It was a passage of play that saw Nicolas Pepe take on the Burnley left-back Erik Pieters, whose arm appeared to meet the ball and block it. The incident wasn’t flagged up by VAR and the game continued.



Pieters was later penalised for a separate incident when he blocked a goal-bound shot from Pepe, which deflected onto the crossbar and clear. Referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot and brandished a red card, but VAR intervened when replays showed it had struck his shoulder.


The latter incident was a perfect example of how VAR should work, but Arteta was perplexed as to why the first incident wasn’t ruled a penalty, which could have given Arsenal the win.


“I think it’s obvious and clear, I think there is no debate about that. If that is not a penalty, then would someone explain what a penalty is in this league,” he said, via


“We created, but we didn’t score enough. We gave a goal to the opponent and then don’t get the decision that we should get. It then becomes very difficult to win the game.”


Having taken the lead early through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the goal that Arsenal gave away was avoidable and the result of Granit Xhaka trying to play a pass that had been closed off by Burnley forward Chris Wood, who blocked it and diverted the ball into the goal.


Arteta defended Xhaka’s decision making in that instance, insisting that possession-based football from the back is still how he wants his team to play, despite the risks involved.


“It is what it is, it’s the way that we play and the way that I want to play,” the boss explained.


“We just have to know the risk and the rules that we have in certain areas in terms of the type of balls we have to play. But it is what it is.”



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English FA explains why Arsenal were denied penalty against Burnley



The Premier League has claimed that Arsenal were denied a penalty against Burnley because Erik Pieters was in ‘close proximity’ to Nicolas Pepe.

The Gunners were forced to settle for a point at Turf Moor after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early opener was cancelled out by Chris Wood, who benefitted from a huge mistake by Granit Xhaka.

However, Arsenal felt aggrieved in the 75th minute when Pepe’s touch inside Burnley’s box led the ball to hit Pieters’ outstretched arm, but Mikel Arteta’s side were not awarded a penalty following a VAR review.

Earlier this week, Fulham were involved in a similar incident as Mario Lemina was penalised for handball in the build-up to their disallowed goal against Tottenham.

But in a statement after the game, the Premier League clarified why Arsenal were not given the decision.

‘The ball has hit him from close proximity and he’s had no time to react,’ said the statement. ‘It wasn’t given on-field and the VAR didn’t think it was a clear error.’


Arteta, meanwhile, was left in no doubt that his side should have been awarded a penalty. ‘Absolutely,’ the Arsenal manager said after the game.

 ‘I think it is obvious and clear. I think there is no debate about that. ‘If that’s not a penalty, then someone will explain what a penalty is in this league.’




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