‘Dreadful’ ace was Arsenal’s real villain

Arsenal suffered the agony of penalty defeat against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League, falling at the final hurdle of a comprehensively enthralling two-legged affair.

The Gunners have been unambiguous in their calibre and character under Mikel Arteta’s wing this season, casting the cobwebs aside after narrowly missing out on top-four last term and continuing a meteoric burgeoning growth.

Topping the Premier League table, five points ahead of holding champions Manchester City, Arteta has crafted a formidable and iron-clad unit out of a withered crop, and while the onus unequivocally lies with the success in the domestic league, the opportunity to enter the latter stage of the Europa League and glean continental silverware for the first time in the north London outfit’s history would have been tantalising to say the least.

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But it wasn’t to be, and the Gunners now hold one route to glory this term following Gabriel Martinelli’s agonising saved penalty, leaving the Emirates faithful silenced.

The Brazilian winger has been a revelation this season, making increments to his feats over the past few years after signing for the club from his homeland outfit for just £6m in 2019, and actually forged a respectable performance against the Leões, but would come up short when it matter most.

He was very much unlike his team-mate Fabio Vieira, who must hang his head after an abject display that proved detrimental to his club’s prospects of qualification.

How did Vieira play vs Sporting?

Signing Porto for £34m in the summer, the Portuguese playmaker has found minutes hard to come by amid the oozing quality stemming from the bulk of the first-team fold, transformative and innovative in their exploits.

Having flourished in his homeland last year, scoring seven goals and supplying 16 assists, Vieira earned a move to the Emirates and the tag of one of Europe’s most prodigious talents; since his arrival in London, the 22-year-old has plundered only two goals and six assists from 28 outings.

The ace has only made two starts in the English top flight, and has found the majority of his endeavours in the Europa League, providing…


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