The English winger thinks the Gunners are capable of beating anyone at their best despite the loss in Spain
Bukayo Saka was bullish on Arsenal’s chances of a comeback in the Europa League semi-finals after their first leg defeat at Villarreal as he declared “we are better than them, even with 10 men”.
Arsenal were beaten 2-1 at El Madrigal on Thursday night, with Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol scoring for the hosts before Nicolas Pepe grabbed a late away goal for the Gunners.
Mikel Arteta’s played with ten men for the final 30 minutes after Dani Ceballos was sent off, but still managed to find a way back into the game, leaving Saka encouraged for the second leg at Emirates Stadium.
What’s been said?
“There are a lot of positives in the second half, it’s a semi-final and to start the game like that… we didn’t create anything, were passive, lost every duel,” the Arsenal winger told BT Sport post-match.
“I’m happy in the second half we picked ourselves and have given us a chance at the Emirates. We showed we are better than them, even with 10 men, so it is up to us.
“When we play properly we can beat anyone.”
Arsenal falter in Spain
The Gunners made the worst possible start against Villarreal after Trigueros fired in a low shot past German goalkeeper Bernd Leno with just five minutes on the clock.
Unai Emery saw his team increase their advantage just before the hour mark, with Raul Albiol turning the ball home at the back post after meeting a headed flick-on from a corner.
Arsenal’s task was made all the more difficult when Ceballos was shown a second yellow card early in the second period, but Saka won a penalty for the visitors in the 70th minute which Pepe dispatched to keep the tie alive.
Etienne Capoue was also given a red card moments later, but the Gunners were unable to find an equaliser and will now have to score in the reverse fixture to have any hope of progressing to the final.
Arsenal will now prepare for a trip to Newcastle United on Sunday, with the second leg of their tie at Villarreal scheduled to take place in north London four days later.