FC Vorksla 0-3 Arsenal
Europa League Review
The kids, and some oldies too, did well in stricken Ukraine.
Despite the moving of the venue, due to serious political tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the kids amongst the oldies, did well to get a spectacular win here.
Smith-Rowe shone brightly and grabbed an early goal here to show his rising star status.
Joe Willock was also on the score-sheet, with soon departing Aaron Ramsey earning and converting a penalty.
This overall was domination, and it seemed clear that Vorskla didn’t really fancy this, nor care. They hardly and seldom afforded an effectual threat.
From the off, the side pressed and got into them, and this opened up readily with Smith-Rowe getting an early goal.
Ramsey burst into the penalty area, and was brought down, thus earning the penalty which he converted well.
The first half overall was one-way traffic, and we were passing the ball around with ease, and playing our usual technical prowess with the ball on the floor.
Joe Willock managed to get a third from a brilliant low finish, and at half-time, we were completely dominant.
The second half was more of the same, with Smith-Rowe getting the fourth following comical defending from Vorskla, and he couldn’t miss from close range.
Nketiah and Smith-Rowe had further chances, but overall it was dominion. The young guns had done very well, and this bodes well – we would hope – for our future.
There was much musing before the game. We had qualified, and now due to the win had finished top of the group. And of course, there was the topic of the tensions between the Ukraine and Russia, which could escalate, and the moving of the ground from Poltava to Kiev.
However, despite the perceived meaninglessness of the game, it seems there are some positives after all.
Our long tradition in developing young players seems like it’s continuing. And who knows how far the likes of Willock, Nketiah, Smith-Rowe, etc. could go? Our youth system has had a major factor in our successes since the 70s. George, Brady, O’Leary, Stapleton, Rice, Thomas, Merson, Rocky Rocastle, Adams, Cole, etc. all were key in various forms in winning cups and leagues for us. I’d argue only Manchester United and possibly Southampton has a superior record in honing youth to major success. It’s premature to say that the players on show tonight can help us win a league in the future. But then it shows our youngsters can perform at a reasonable first-team level.
Moreover, our good friends boast about their youth system – but Kane was not originally a Spurs youth player (he was ours). Alli was from MK Dons, and Winks hasn’t done much yet. Dier is OK to be fair, but Ledley King whilst a good defender didn’t help them achieve much bar a League Cup ten years ago. And arguably their best youth talent in PL history had to leave to join us to attain the success he craved. We know better, evidently, hence why our youngsters have grown and won with us.
I find sometimes in life, the consequences in life can be different from the intended outcome. Despite the moaning of meaninglessness, I feel that things have turned out well. Most of our big guns were left back home, and I’m hoping that Emery will formulate a strong tactical plan to help us defeat our “good friends” on Sunday.
A shout out must be made to Wenger here. Some of these youngsters got their debuts under him or were promoted to the first-team under him. And to his credit, we’re seeing the fruits of his development. It’s good to be balanced sometimes, and despite the numerous failings in his later tenure, this amongst others was a principal plus.
I’d like to see the youngsters in the final game vs. Qarabag, and maybe in the knockouts. Though this will depend on the opponents – Smith-Rowe going toe to toe with Mbappe, Neymar, or Mo Salah, or Ben Yedder of Sevilla, may be too much for him for now.
Bukayo Saka 5
Zechariah Medley 5
Charlie Gilmour 5
Man of the match
His performance showed his composure, potential, and poise. It’s highly intriguing to see his development, and how he can progress from here.
Christmas Clock-End Watch anyone?