When a striker misses what for him is a sitter, it’s human nature to think someone else would have taken the chance to open the scoring. If Eddie missed one, Pepe would have scored it, had Pepe missed a sitter, Lacazette would have buried it and if Lacazette missed his, of course, Aubameyang would have scored because he’s our main man. Well, he missed it, in fact had he have packed his shooting boots, he’d have walked off the pitch in Rome with another ball to take home to his kids.
Benfica’s goal was gifted to them. Firstly, we should have cleared the ball instead of faffing around which resulted in losing possession. In cam the cross, ESR hand balled it and the rest of that little sequence of events ended with us going a goal down. A totally undeserved lead for Benfica. A great response though and in quick time when Ceballos played a quick long ball into the path of Saka. He in turn found Ødegaard who passed through the defence to Cedric. The ball into the box from our makeshift left back was perfect for Saka to make no mistake. 1-1 and that’s how it remained.
Honestly, we should have won the game with ease but I think that’s this Arsenal team all over. There’s something lacking and it’s not in our defending. The attacking unit doesn’t seem to be clicking yet we have super players in Saka, ESR and I would add Ødegaard because when he’s on the ball, he looks to do something positive with it. All three do but others around them just don’t seem to be on the same wavelength. Speed seems to seldom be of the essence and of course, hesitation allows an opposing defence to regroup. Benfica dealt with most of what we tried with ease. When we did get through, up went the offside flag. Or we couldn’t finish.
I’d imagine Mikel Arteta and his players feel disappointed this morning as we all do because we had the opportunity to come back to London with two or three away goals in the bank but instead we have just one. Still, unless Jesus was playing a tactical game last night knowing that in Athens, his team will be much more adventurous, the chance of us progressing is far from over. Benfica need an away goal to cancel out ours so all Arsenal need to do is keep a clean sheet and it’ll be job done. Kieran Tierney should start and with a bit of luck, Thomas Partey will be fit too because he makes a huge difference to our midfield.
To end. What a moment of madness and utter stupidity from Granit Xhaka just before halftime. What he was thinking I don’t know. But, what a great tackle he made in the penalty box too to deny Benfica. A sliding tackle, perfectly time and perfectly executed.
Man City next, a nice easy one.
See you in the comments.