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‘We cannot always rely on him’ – Manager Mikel Arteta calls on Arsenal to help out Bukayo Saka


Mikel Arteta is confident Arsenal can turn around their Europa League semi-final with Villarreal, but wants the team to step up and help Bukayo Saka.

The Gunners slipped to a 2-1 defeat in Spain, but gave themselves a fighting chance thanks to Nicolas Pepe’s second half-penalty cancelling out early goals from Manuel Trigueros and Raul Albiol.

It was a notable second-half effort from Arsenal, as they played for over half an hour with ten men following the dismissal of Dani Ceballos for two yellow cards.

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Arteta was disappointed with how his side performed early on, particularly defensively, but felt there were enough positives to be confident heading into next week’s second leg in north London.

“We didn’t want to come here and lose but after the way the game developed, you have to take the result,” Arteta told BT Sport. “If you have to lose it is probably the best result we could have.

“Two different halves. We started to be us, in the first half there were so many moments we weren’t.

We started to chase and were not precise with the ball, didn’t have enough control. We didn’t have enough threat or desire to attack the box, in the second half it was completely different.

Saka delivered an excellent performance, with the young England international winning the penalty for Pepe to net the away goal, and Arteta feels the rest of the team need to step up and aid the 19-year-old.

“We are very used to that (Saka playing well) this season, but it tells us we need to do much more as we cannot always rely on him,” Arteta said. “Bernd Leno was very good, at 2-0, the chance with Gerard Moreno, he saved us.

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“We had a big chance with Auba [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang] to draw the game.

“I am confident we have a chance to win.”

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