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Arteta names Arsenal’s game-changer in Benfica win

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The Gunners boss singled out the player for special praise after his decisive impact kept the club’s Europa League title hopes alive.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes Willian ‘changed the game’ in the 3-2 comeback victory over Benfica in the Europa League on Thursday night.

The former Chelsea winger replaced Emile Smith Rowe as a substitute past the hour-mark. He then assisted Kieran Tierney’s 67th-minute equalizing goal to level the scoreline at 2-2 just four minutes after coming on and proved a threat in the attack.

Bukayo Saka eventually set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second goal of the game to seal a 3-2 win in Greece. It secured the club a 4-3 aggregate victory in their last-32 tie, sealing them a spot in the next round.

“Willian specifically, I think he changed the game,” said Arteta in his post-match conference at the Karaiskakis Stadium on Thursday.

“He gave us much more composure in moments, produced some creativity, produced the goal for Kieran, and we need everybody on board.”

Willian has now managed four assists in 26 appearances across all competitions since joining Arsenal on a free transfer last summer. He is, however, yet to open his goal account for the club.

The Brazilian will hope to change that in the visit to Leicester City on Sunday afternoon.