Mikel Arteta calls on Arsenal to use ‘cruel’ Europa League exit against Olympiacos last season as inspiration in last-32 clash with Benfica
- Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League by Olympiacos last season
- A late away goal gave the Greek side an unexpected victory in the last 32
- Mikel Arteta wants his side to use that defeat as inspiration against Benfica
Mikel Arteta has called on Arsenal’s players to use their ‘cruel’ Europa League exit to Olympiacos last season as inspiration when they face Benfica in this year’s round of 32.
A late away goal for the Greeks saw Arsenal crash out of the competition while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also missed a glaring chance with the match’s final kick.
Aubameyang has travelled with the Arsenal team for the first leg despite the club captain being criticised after a video appeared on Instagram showing him getting a tattoo.
Mikel Arteta (left) wants Arsenal to use their ‘cruel’ defeat in the Europa League against Olympiacos last season as inspiration when they take on Benfica
Arsenal say they will speak to Aubameyang, while Arteta said his squad are ‘hungry’ to make up for how their European campaign was cut short last year.
Casting his mind back to last year’s Europa League exit, Arteta said: ‘It was very cruel, the way we got knocked out.
‘The tie was in our hands. We scored the goal and conceded in the last minute of extra time. We still had a massive chance with Aubameyang to go through.
A late away goal and a glaring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang miss saw Arsenal crash out
‘That was a big lesson there that you have to play every single minute of the competition with high focus. It was a very tough experience. That created more hunger for this season to do more and we have to use that.’
Winning the Europa League could be Arsenal’s best bet of qualifying for the Champions League next season, given their midtable position in the Premier League.
Benfica sit fourth in the Portuguese top flight and Arteta said he is already allowing himself to dream about winning this competition. ‘Victory is always in the back of my mind,’ he said. ‘It is why we are here – to win trophies for this club.’
The Gunners’ captain has travelled to Rome but Thomas Partey is no in the squad
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