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Sead Kolasinac dents Mikel Arteta’s Europa League plans as Arsenal maintain newfound resolve

Arsenal returned to Premier League action by securing their third successive win since returning from the February winter break.

The win proved crucial in the race for fifth place – which will ensure Champions League football – as the Gunners now sit just four points off Manchester United in fifth.

Going behind instantly, Mikel Arteta’s side were up against it. Goals from Eddie Nketiah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ensured that they were able to turn the tides, however, and end the game with another three points. The contributions of Bernd Leno and Shkodran Mustafi also played a huge part in the win.

football.london  take a look at some of the talking points from the victory.

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Mikel Arteta’s left-back situation

Starting Sead Kolasinac, it was clear that Arteta had the Europa League tie against Olympiacos in mind.

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Bukayo Saka has been exceptional under him but starting six games straight and with another crucial match against the Greeks on Thursday (February 27), it was understandable why he was dropped to the bench against Everton.

Alongside this, Kolasinac has also played well under the Spaniard. Against Manchester United on New Year’s Day he was one of Arsenal’s most influential players and the relationship he struck up with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Granit Xhaka down the left was key for the way Arteta wanted to attack.

The Bosnian just never got going against Everton, however. Playing everyone onside for the Toffee’s opener before sustaining what appeared to be a shoulder injury, Saka had to fill in yet again. Of course, the 18-year-old’s assist – his 10th of the season – brought positivity to the situation but this can’t have been what Arteta wanted to see.

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“Well I’m never happy when something happens like that. With Kola, he’s been very unlucky with injuries,” the head coach said in his post-match press conference.

“Bukayo had some issues as well before the game then he started to play after a few minutes. It was a great contribution defensively but as well there are other moments that he showed today that there is still a lot of margin for him to improve and he needs to keep his feet on the ground and we have to help him to.”

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Saka will most likely be the one to start against Olympiacos and although this will help Arsenal on the night, it heightens the risk of him taking that left-back spot.

Kieran Tierney is back training with the squad but having not played a minute – even for the Under-23s – Olympiacos may come too early for him. Despite this, with Kolasinac facing yet another setback, this could add just that more weight on the Scot’s return as Arsenal have places in the Europa League, Premier League and FA Cup to fight for.

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