I’m happy we won of course.
But at this rate, I’m beginning to think the only clean sheet I can know of is in my laundry…..
Them scoring two late goals kind of dampens what was a good win and a good performance.
Wenger in his prime would have been proud of some of the stuff on show there. But even his boss teams could defend; Arsenal of today cannot.
Like many others, I had not heard of Vorskla Poltava that much either. But to use two cliches “they’re no mugs” and “there are no easy games”. I was expecting a win, but I wasn’t dismissing them.
And they had a defined game plan which to some degree was working. In the opening stretches, they got everybody behind the ball and looked to hit it long when they won it back. We played into their hands somewhat by being narrow, but this continued until our first goal, courtesy of Aubameyang. Vorksla were near our penalty area when Mkhi nicked the ball off them and gave it to Iwobi further upfield. He then beat their wide defender and managed to find PEA in the box who slotted it home.
Mkhi and Iwobi had efforts that tested their keeper, but we came good in the second half.
There weren’t many changes at half-time, though we turned up the pressure, and got two-nil up Danny Welbeck. He’s maligned in some quarters, but unlike other instances, he finished well and nodded home a second from close range.
The third completed PEA’s brace and this, like his Cardiff goal, was Henry-esque. He took the ball from 30 yards out, nutmegged their defender, and curled home from the edge of the area.
The fourth was from Ozil, who got on the end of a Lichtsteiner cross to slot home from 12 yards.
They got two late goals, in part from sloppy defending, but overall we were worth the win.
It’s now on to FC Qarabag and Kazakhstan for the next game.
It’s wrong to moan here, since we did win, and win well.
But this lack of a clean sheet and continuous defensive errors is worrisome. It could, in terms of the Premier League, be the difference fourth or fifth, who knows? Yes, we did win tonight, but it’s not comfortable to have clean sheets as a premium.
We can remember for decades that we had arguably the best defence in the country. Going from the famous back four to Campbell, Cole, Lauren, Toure, and Keown, to what we see now is a massive comedown. Attacking and scoring goals won’t be an issue for us. But defending is, and we need all the help we can get there. Adams himself called out Emery in our structure – Tone was right to do so, in part. But it will take time to correct, and he was wrong to call it out this early. Emery should get Tone in to help, and why not? He’d be with his pal Bouldy, and the current crop can learn directly from our best ever central defender and captain.
The attacking play though was well-done, and I think it was a mix of Vorksla getting tired, and us finding our groove. Much of this was done via the pace and dribbling of Mkhi and Iwobi, and their midfield and defence just couldn’t handle it.
We could have and should have, scored more than four. But the defensive issue puts a negative on this good positive. It’s like eating a slice of well-cooked ham off the bone and biting into a massive clove. A weird analogy, granted, but it’s what it seems like to me at least.
Leno – Did well on his debut and the goals weren’t his fault. He wasn’t seriously tested but encouraging nonetheless (7)
Lichtsteiner – Bar the defensive error for their first goal, he was fine throughout. He got forward when required, and was solid at the back (6)
Sokratis – As tough as nails as usual. The goals weren’t his fault per se, but for the most part kept their attack quiet (7)
Holding – Like Sokratis, did well throughout. The Europa League would be a chance to show Emery he can make it as a regular starter. (6)
Monreal – Steady and dependable as always (6)
Torreira – Linked up play well and looked strong (6)
Elneny – Was his usual steady self (6)
Mkhitaryan – Offers something different to Ozil in the number 10 role, and his pace and direct dribbling were key assets in unlocking their defence (7)
Iwobi – He’s much maligned, and in some parts this is justified. But he drew the strengths of his uncle Jay-Jay in this game, and he like Mkhi used his direct dribbling to unlock their defence. (8)
Welbeck – Welbz was his usual self. Offered energy, drive, determination, work-rate, and pressing. He scored too, and whilst he gets critiqued in some quarters, he did well (7)
Aubameyang – PEA did very well, and we finally were playing to his strengths. The first goal was a classic poacher’s finish, and the second saw his technical quality to the fore. Hopefully, he can kick on now, and score more in the Premier League. (8)
Guendouzi – Didn’t have much to impact, but looked solid (5)
Ozil – Scored a well-taken goal, and got involved in build-up play when needed (6)
Smith-Rowe – Looked OK, but linked up well on occasion. (5)
Emery – Senor Emery managed the game well, and brought on subs after the game was essentially won. I’m sure he won’t be happy with the defending – and he must know it’s something to correct over time. Yes, he cannot control mistakes. But most of the goals we’ve conceded have been via errors, and this pattern is correctable. Adams, Campbell, Bould, etc. made mistakes too, they’re human. But they were rare overall and were not consistent. It’s the regularity of these errors that shows it needs attention (6)
And the fans, was there a need for all of the empty seats? And do we have a right to knock the Europa League, when we have only won two European trophies? And when we were in the Champions League, bar reaching the final and a couple of semis, we seldom ever competed, did we? Let’s support the team.
Man of the match – Aubameyang
Iwobi had a very good game. But I’ll admit to being biased here since PEA is my favourite player in the team. I guess he reminds me of our better times, were we had boss forwards like Wright and Henry.