Mikel Arteta says 'dangerous' Arsenal star 'deserves more minutes'

Mikel Arteta insists ‘dangerous’ Fabio Vieira ‘deserves more minutes’ for Arsenal after he impressed in the Europa League draw against Sporting Lisbon.

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The last-16 tie is evenly-poised ahead of next week’s return leg in north London after an entertaining 2-2 draw in Portugal.

William Saliba put the Premier League leaders ahead with a towering header but hesitancy from Matt Turner and Jakub Kiwior allowed Goncalo Inacio to equalise for Sporting.

The hosts went in front 10 minutes after half-time through Paulinho but an own goal from Sporting’s Hidemasa Morita ensured Arsenal avoided defeat.

Vieira, who joined Arsenal from Porto last summer, made his 12th start of the season at the Jose Alvalade Stadium and Arteta was impressed by his performance.

Arteta described Vieira as Arsenal’s ‘most dangerous player’ on the night and said the 22-year-old deserves more opportunities in the latter stages of the season.

‘I’m really happy with him,’ Arteta said. ‘I think he deserves more minutes than he’s had, especially in the last two months.

‘Obviously he had a difficult start because he was injured for two months after a surgery and wasn’t at the level that we wanted.

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‘But you saw tonight that he was probably our most dangerous player. He was always making things happen. He’s a player that I absolutely love.’

Arteta also praised Kiwior who made his first Arsenal appearance since arriving in north London in January from Serie A side Spezia.

‘I think he was good, it’s the first time he’s played so it was a different partnership,’ Arteta said.

‘When you make six changes to the team, that cohesion isn’t really there, and you can sense it especially in the first minutes of the half.

‘After that, I think the team got better and better. Overall, I think he played a good game.’

Assessing Arsenal’s performance as a whole, Arteta added: ‘We had periods in the game where we were in a lot of control, but we lacked a little bit of strength in the final third because obviously we had to adjust today with the players we did not have available.

‘I think we conceded two very poor goals that we have to do better on and show much more determination to defend our box in those moments.

‘At that level away from home, it puts the tie in a really difficult position but we managed to react. We had periods in the second half where we were much better.’

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