Arsenal’s Europa League defeat to Sporting CP in midweek ends their chances of winning their second major European trophy, yet the penalty shootout loss could potentially end up being a blessing in disguise.
Mikel Arteta is focused on securing the Gunners their first Premier League title since 2003/2004 and the extra continental matches may have been more of a hindrance than anything else in their bid to hold off Manchester City.
The Spaniard had to rotate his squad against the Portuguese side, giving players such as Takehiro Tomiyasu, Reiss Nelson and Fabio Vieira starts, although they didn’t exactly take their chance, with Vieira performing extremely poorly.
The 22-year-old was filling in for Martin Odegaard, who Arteta was clearly resting for the Premier League tie this weekend, yet he failed to take his opportunity.
The former Porto man didn’t do much against Sporting, in truth, averaging a woeful Sofascore rating of 5.9/10, comfortably the worst on the pitch and across his 101-minute spell on the pitch, he managed just 47 touches and 25 passes - figures nowhere near good enough for Arteta.
He also won just one duel, succeeded with zero dribble attempts and lost possession 13 times during the tie and he “didn’t cover himself in glory” according to popular Arsenal blog the Short Fuse.
He was also dubbed “utterly terrible” by one source during the match and his performance will give Arteta the licence to ditch him for the tie against Palace this afternoon.
This wasn’t a one-off by the 5 foot 7 midfielder either, as he has failed to demonstrate to the Emirates faithful during his short spell why the club splashed out £34m to sign him last summer.
He has made just two Premier League starts this term (17 appearances in total), scoring once and registering two assists, yet his average Sofascore rating of 6.74/10 ranks him as only the Gunners' 15th-best performer this season.
Of course, adapting to a new league and culture is extremely difficult, but the midfielder has struggled to take the limited opportunities presented to him by Arteta.
Starting in the last 16 of a major European competition was the ideal chance for him to showcase his abilities and lead the club through to the quarter-finals, however his abject performance will surely give the manager more questions than answers.
With the manager-less Eagles to come this afternoon, the former Porto man will likely return his usual watching brief.2023-03-19T07:22:58Z dg43tfdfdgfd