Bullish Saka believes Arsenal have shown they are ‘better’ than Villarreal despite defeat in the first leg

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Bullish Bukayo Saka believes Arsenal have shown they are ‘better’ than Villarreal despite the Europa League semi-final defeat … but admits the ‘passive’ start made it ‘impossible’ for them to score in the first 45 minutes.

  • Arsenal went through a nightmare when Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol scored
  • The Gunners then let midfielder Dani Ceballos leave against Villarreal
  • Bukayo Saka then won a dubious penalty, which Nicolas Pepe put away
  • And the 19-year-old believes their showing showed their superiority in the second half

Bukayo Saka claims Arsenal have shown they are a ‘better’ team than Villarreal, despite losing a thrilling first leg in the Europa League semi-final to the Spanish team.

The Gunners’ endured a nightmare during the half-hour opening at the Estadio de la Ceramica when Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol put former Arsenal manager Unai Emery’s side ahead 2-0.

Things went from bad to worse in the second half for Mikel Arteta’s men when Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos was sent off for a second bookable foul.

Bukayo Saka claims Arsenal have shown they are a 'better' team than Villarreal despite the loss

Bukayo Saka claims Arsenal have shown they are a ‘better’ team than Villarreal despite the loss

The Gunners went down two goals in their first leg of the Europa League semi-final after Manu Trigueros (above) and Raul Albiol scored

The Gunners went down two goals in their first leg of the Europa League semi-final after Manu Trigueros (above) and Raul Albiol scored

The Gunners went down two goals in their first leg of the Europa League semi-final after Manu Trigueros (above) and Raul Albiol scored

England international Saka then won a dubious penalty after feeling contact from Trigueros, but Nicolas Pepe nevertheless converted to cut the deficit in half.

The Gunners will nevertheless have to turn a 2-1 deficit at the Emirates Stadium if they want to reach a second Europa League final three years from now, but Saka believes their second-half showing has shown they are better than their LaLiga counterparts.

When asked to BT Sport if he thought the dynamics of the tie had changed after the second half, Saka replied: ‘Yes, 100 percent. I think we definitely showed that we are better than them, even with 10 men we dominated.

‘It’s up to us, it’s always up to us. We have a team full of good players and if we play well we can beat everyone and we showed that today. ‘

Saka won a dubious penalty in the second half but Nicolas Pepe made no mistake from the spot

Saka won a dubious penalty in the second half but Nicolas Pepe made no mistake from the spot

Saka won a dubious penalty in the second half but Nicolas Pepe made no mistake from the spot

However, it is Emery’s Villarreal – who was also reduced to 10 men when Etienne Capoue was sacked – who, however, led the game thanks to a brilliant first half.

But Saka, 19, knocked off his squad’s ‘passive’ performance in the first 45 minutes, admitting they would never score as long as that lethargy continued.

There are a lot of positives that all came in the second half. But it’s the Europa League semi-final and to start the match like that, it’s impossible to score, ” he added.

‘We didn’t come up with anything, we lost every duel, we were passive. It’s really frustrating to look back on, but I’m glad we picked ourselves up in the second half and scored. We gave ourselves a chance with the Emirates. ‘

Dani Ceballos and Etienne Capoue saw red in an exciting clash at the Estadio de la Ceramica

Dani Ceballos and Etienne Capoue saw red in an exciting clash at the Estadio de la Ceramica

Dani Ceballos and Etienne Capoue saw red in an exciting clash at the Estadio de la Ceramica

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