Arsenal news: Mikel Arteta has problem he must address as two stars struggle vs Sporting | Football | Sport
Home » Matches » Arsenal news: Mikel Arteta has problem he must address as two stars struggle vs Sporting | Football | Sport
Arsenal news: Mikel Arteta has problem he must address as two stars struggle vs Sporting | Football | Sport

Arsenal played out an entertaining 2-2 draw against Sporting Lisbon in the first leg of the Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday. Mikel Arteta made six changes from the starting XI that beat Bournemouth last Saturday.

The Gunners took the lead when William Saliba headed in from a corner midway through the first half. Sporting equalised from a corner of their own 10 minutes before the interval.

The hosts turned the game on its head when Paulinho turned in from close range. But Arsenal drew level when Granit Xhaka's attempted pass deflected in off the unfortunate Hidemasa Morita for a comical own goal.

Arsenal know victory at the Emirates in the second leg next week will see them through to the quarter-final. Express Sport looks at what we learned from the first leg at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Set-piece problems

Arteta will not be happy with his side's recent record of defending set pieces. The Gunners allowed a free header from a corner for Inacio to equalise in Lisbon.

Bournemouth also scored from a corner in Saturday's dramatic match at the Emirates. Arsenal have now conceded five goals from set-pieces in their last 10 matches in all competitions.

CBS Sports report that Arsenal's xG of conceding from a set-piece has risen from 0.18 per game to 0.34 per game since the World Cup. It is an issue Arteta and his coaching staff need to address.

Two Players struggle

Matt Turner hasn't played a single minute since January and it showed. The USA No 1 has been solid overall in the handful of appearances he has made this season but his rustiness was exposed for Sporting's first goal.

He was hesitant in coming for a corner and was left in no man's land. He almost gifted Sporting a second with some poor distribution but there wasn't much else he could do to stop the second, with his instinct save falling straight at the feet of Paulinho.

Jakub Kiwior finally made his debut following his January arrival but will hope for better performances to come. Replays appeared to show him duck as the corner came in for Inacio's goal.

Arteta taking it seriously

Arteta may have made six changes to his XI from last weekend but he is still taking the Europa League seriously. Many fans would not have begrudged the Spaniard resting all his stars to keep them fit for league action.

However, Arteta is determined to compete on all fronts. Arsenal are out of the FA Cup so the Europa League is the only other competition they have to fight for.

Rob Holding, Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu all could have started. But Arteta resisted that temptation and chose to stick with the likes of Bukayo Saka, William Saliba and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

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