Arteta wants Arsenal to use their 'cruel' Olympiacos defeat as motivation against Benfica

 

Arteta wants Arsenal to use their 'cruel' Olympiacos defeat as motivation against Benfica

Mikel Arteta has called on Arsenal's players to use their 'cruel' Europa League exit to Olympiacos last season as inspiration when they face Benfica in this year's round of 32.

A late away goal for the Greeks saw Arsenal crash out of the competition while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also missed a glaring chance with the match's final kick.

Aubameyang has travelled with the Arsenal team for the first leg despite the club captain being criticised after a video appeared on Instagram showing him getting a tattoo.

Arsenal say they will speak to Aubameyang, while Arteta said his squad are 'hungry' to make up for how their European campaign was cut short last year.

Casting his mind back to last year's Europa League exit, Arteta said: 'It was very cruel, the way we got knocked out.

'The tie was in our hands. We scored the goal and conceded in the last minute of extra time. We still had a massive chance with Aubameyang to go through.

'That was a big lesson there that you have to play every single minute of the competition with high focus. It was a very tough experience. That created more hunger for this season to do more and we have to use that.'

Winning the Europa League could be Arsenal's best bet of qualifying for the Champions League next season, given their midtable position in the Premier League.

Benfica sit fourth in the Portuguese top flight and Arteta said he is already allowing himself to dream about winning this competition. 'Victory is always in the back of my mind,' he said. 'It is why we are here - to win trophies for this club.'

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