Both legs of Arsenal’s last 32 Europa League games against Benfica will be played in neutral venues to meet UK coronavirus restrictions.

The UK is introducing strict coronavirus quarantine rules for people entering the country from Portugal. This has resulted in the Lisbon and London February games being moved to a neutral area. Portugal is on a “red list” of countries created by the British government.

Benfica’s home game on February 18 will be played at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, while the second leg on February 25 is expected to take place at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium in Athens.

UEFA confirmed the location of the first leg while Arsenal said the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens, home of Olympiacos, would host the second leg but have since removed this post from their website. The venue for this game has yet to be officially confirmed by UEFA.

The European Football Association added that the away goals rule will remain in place.

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Arsenal will play Benfica at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on February 18

Arsenal won Group B in the Europa League after winning all six games to reach the knockout round.

Benfica finished second to Rangers in Group D after taking three wins from their six group stage games.

The first legs of the Champions League in Liverpool and Manchester City against RB Leipzig and Borussia M√∂nchengladbach have been moved to Budapest. UEFA confirmed on Tuesday that Manchester United’s first leg against Real Sociedad will now take place at the Juventus Stadium in Turin.


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Arsenal were scheduled to face Benfica at the Estadio da Luz on February 18

Saliba: Arteta rated me after two and a half games

Speaking about his difficult time at Arsenal, William Saliba said that Gunners boss Mikel Arteta “judged me after two and a half games” and “told me I wasn’t ready”.

Signed by Arsenal-based Saint-Etienne for a fee of around ¬£ 27million in the summer of 2019, the 19-year-old defender had high hopes, especially given Arsenal’s struggles in the center-back.

William Saliba

It was sent back directly to Saint-Etienne on loan and was to make itself felt on his return in London. However, the defender, who played twice in the Football League Trophy for Arsenal’s U23s, failed in a single appearance for the senior club in north London before joining Ligue 1 on loan with Nice in January.

However, Saliba impressed in Nice and was named the club’s Player of the Month in January. Because of his good form, he didn’t have enough chances at Arsenal.

“I’ve been waiting for Arteta to give me a chance.”

“It’s clear that so much has changed in the last year,” he told RMC Sport.

“When I saw that the coach has changed a lot for me too, a lot has changed this year. He [Arteta] judged me after two and a half games. I would have liked him to play me more. But he told me I wasn’t ready.

William Saliba has played seven games for Nice in Ligue 1
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William Saliba has played seven games for Nice in Ligue 1

“I’ve been waiting for him to give me a chance, but that’s football. When I came to Arsenal the league was looking very good so I showed up for training and wanted to train on my own to show the coach that I was am ready.

“I’m happy now. I want to play for Nice. The idea when you’re part of a team is a better feeling for me.”

Saliba says, “It hurt me.”

This isn’t the first interview Saliba, who was eliminated from Arsenal’s Europa League squad earlier this season, has had since leaving the Gunners in January.

He has spoken three times in so many weeks and in another interview recently revealed that he was “injured” by lack of playing time at Arsenal.

“Honestly, if you had told me a year ago, I honestly wouldn’t have believed you,” he told TF1.

“I really, really, really didn’t think that I would be transferred for 30 million euros and that I would arrive where people have expected a lot from me and the fans have loved me and you are in the reserves, play zero, null nothing in the Europa League or the league, I was once in the league cup squad.

“It hurt me, it affected me. I don’t think I left too early. If you feel ready, you have to go. I don’t think I left too early. These things happen. I believe me.”

When asked about his future, he said, “I don’t know. I’ve now learned that it is better not to look too far into the future. So I focus on those six months trying to do absolutely everything give and for the rest we’ll see. “

Since arriving in Nice, Saliba has played seven Ligue 1 games, giving his new side two wins and two goals against.

William Saliba

What Arteta said …

Despite Saliba’s troubled start to life at Arsenal, Arteta has insisted that the Emirates Stadium defender has a bright future.

After Saliba completed a loan transfer to Nice, the Arsenal boss said: “We signed a big project that we had some problems with because he hasn’t played enough football in the last 18 months and at that age and is in the Development phase. ” that is crucial.

“I was always very aware when he came back, when he didn’t take the step he had to take before he came to us to develop a relationship with a new manager, a new club, new teammates that he doesn’t have Every season is really difficult and I think it’s detrimental for the future.

“I want to protect the player we signed and the future we have next to him. The best way to do that is to give him minutes to play.

William Saliba

“He’s been really good, it’s been a difficult couple of months for him to cope with this situation, but I can see the evolution he’s made, the progress he’s made over the months and now he’s ready to compete. It is him. ” He’s also in a really strong league, a league that he knows very well, he has experience [there] and he has to play as many games as possible to be ready for us from next season. “

He added: “He will be back for preseason and he will be with us and hopefully he will come back after playing a bunch of games and [with] His performance is increasing and his development is progressing in the right way. That’s why we made this decision.

“I know it is sometimes difficult to explain or understand after the money the club has spent borrowing and borrowing him, but a lot has happened to him, he is a long-term player for us and we have to . ” protect him too.



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“Giving him three or four games is not enough for him, he needs a lot more than that, but what has happened in the last 18 months he also went through some personal issues that we have to try to help him with and stuff to stay as close to him as possible, and now he has to play, play and play and enjoy his job too.

“In order for him to do that, I think we found the right club in him, he is very excited to go there now and hopefully he can enjoy his football and be ready for us next season.”