Arsenal face a testing week against Benfica and Man City
- Credit: PA
Arsenal face a testing week as they return to Europa League action while also taking on the Premier League runaway leaders this weekend.
The Gunners will travel away to a neutral venue in Rome to take Portuguese side Benfica on Thursday evening in the first leg of their last 32 round tie before then playing host to Pep Guardiola’s men on Sunday afternoon in the league.
Manager Mikel Arteta believes Kieran Tierney has an outside chance of featuring against Benfica or Manchester City this week, but Thomas Partey faces an uphill battle to be fit in time.
Both players missed Sunday's 4-2 win over Leeds United through injury as Partey recovers from a hamstring issue and Tierney nurses lower leg discomfort.
When asked if Partey and Tierney could feature in those matches, Arteta said: “It seems unlikely at the moment, but I don’t know.
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“Probably if there is one player who has got a bigger chance, it’s Kieran, because probably in the next few days he can start to do some parts with the team.
“But I don’t know how he is going to evolve when he gets a little better closer to training with the group.”
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Arsenal and Benfica have met before in the last 16 of the 1991/92 European Cup, with the latter winning on aggregate 4-2, 1-1 at home and 3-1 away. Those have been the only two meetings between the sides.
Boss Arteta will be hoping his side can build on their win over Leeds on the weekend in which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to the line-up and scored a hat-trick.
But 19-year-old Bukayo Saka was at the forefront of everything for the Gunners and Arteta believes there is plenty more to come from the rising star.
“He’s playing really well. He can still get much better. He’s got that room, he’s got the intelligence and he’s got the desire so his aim has to be to do better, to score more goals, be more efficient in the final third and there’s a lot of things he needs to do better defensively as well to improve day by day, because he’s got the ability.”