Arteta admits Arsenal gave Sporting Lisbon ‘too much hope’ as his side lacked ‘cohesion’ in first leg

Arteta on Arsenal draw Credit: Alamy
Arteta on Arsenal draw Credit: Alamy

Mikel Arteta has admitted that his Arsenal players gifted Sporting Lisbon “too much hope” during their Europa League last-16 first leg on Thursday night.

Arsenal and Sporting Lisbon played out an enthralling first leg in Portugal. William Saliba headed the ball home after 22 minutes to put the visitors ahead on the night.

Sporting struck back as goals either side of half-time from Goncalo Inacio and Paulinho placed them in control of the tie.

The Gunners ended up earning a draw, though. Hidemasa Morita’s own goal saw the game finish 2-2 so it is all to play for heading into next week’s return leg at the Emirates.

Arteta made six changes for this game following Arsenal’s 3-2 Premier League win over AFC Bournemouth last weekend. He admitted after the draw in the Europa League that his alterations meant that his team “lost a bit of cohesion”.

“Considering you concede two goals away from home and still escape with a draw you have to take some positives,” Arteta told BT Sport.

“But we gave them too much hope by giving the ball away in our own half too many times.

“We had control for long periods but we lacked a bit of that final touch but we are missing four key attackers so we will take the draw.

“At 2-1 we lose the runner and they had a chance to make it 3-1 a lot of things to improve but we showed a lot of resiliency and we are still in the tie.

“Making six changes you lose a bit of the cohesion but we had to make the changes because some are unavailable and others had to play out of position but they did well.”

On the substitutions: “They have to be available and we have to use them. They have to be fit enough to play in these games. To play at this club you have to play every three days.”

On the second leg: “Everything is still to play for and we get to play at home and now we have to show that we are the better team.”

Gunners midfielder Granit Xhaka admitted after the game that they gifted Sporting Lisbon two “easy” goals.

“We knew before the game it is tough to play here. It is always tough to play against a Portuguese team they are, well disciplined, tough and have good players technically but we have to take the 2-2 and finish the game in London,” Xhaka told BT Sport.

“We started okay in the game started the first game but the two goals we conceded was too easy at this level, that cannot happen.

“In the second half, we had a lot of control, we could have won the game but also could have lost the game so that is why we take the draw.”

READ MORE: Arsenal display their problem-solving properties once more after Sporting fightback


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