Benfica manager has brutal dig at Arsenal after drawing Gunners in Europa League

Benfica boss Jorge Jesus aimed a brutal dig at Arsenal as he looked ahead to their Europa League clash.

The Gunners were paired with the Portuguese side earlier this week when the draw for the last-32 knockout stage was made.

Benfica finished second in their group behind Steven Gerrard's Rangers – while Mikel Arteta's side topped theirs with a 100% record, finishing eight points clear of Molde, Rapid Vienna and Dundalk.

But it has been a different story in the Premier League, with Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Southampton stretching Arsenal's winless run to six games.

The Gunners are 15th in the table, hovering just five points above the relegation zone after seven defeats from their opening 13 games – including four in their last six matches.

By contrast, Benfica are second in the Portuguese top flight, two points behind leaders Sporting Lisbon.

And Jesus is confident his side can cause an upset against Arsenal in February.

"I’ve got the utmost respect for Arsenal but drawing them doesn’t give me sleepless nights or dent my confidence," said Jesus, as reported by Metro.

"They are strong opponents but I believe we have the ability to get past them."

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Jesus said if Benfica cannot feel confident about beating Arteta's struggling side, they might as well forget their silverware ambitions.

"We cannot be concerned about this," he said. "If we don’t have the capacity to beat Arsenal, we don’t have the capacity to reach the Europa League final either.

"Before the draws, nobody knows what could happen, but I felt that Benfica would find a strong team.

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"When I am in the Champions League or Europa League, I always get strong teams. Me and the club where I am."

Arsenal were undone by ill-discipline against Southampton on Wednesday, with centre-back Gabriel sent off after two yellow cards in four minutes.

Before that, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended his barren run in front of goal when he cancelled out Theo Walcott's opener for Saints.

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