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Valencia 2-4 Arsenal (3-7 Agg.): Gunners book Europa League Final with Aubazette Flourish [+ Player Ratings]

Valencia 2-4 Arsenal (3-7 agg.)

Europa League Semi-Final

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Kos the boss and El jeje in his old stomping ground

We’re in the final.

El jefe could get FOUR Europa League titles.

And we’ve shown our good friends that we too can reach a European final.

And it’s our first European final since the 2006 Champions League defeat to Barca.

And both legs followed a similar pattern. Valencia opened brightly, and attacked us, (as they had to given the aggregate score line coming into the game).

Gameiro got the opening goal, since Monreal was not tracking his run, and he slotted past Cech at close range.

Moreover, we equalised pretty readily. Whilst it was against the run of play, Lacazette picked up the ball outside their penalty area, and with a deft flick he put Aubameyang through who blasted in from the edge of the 18 yard box.

After that we were passing the ball around well, without Valencia troubling us much.

The second half followed a similar pattern, as our defending was again suspect to allow them to get crosses in and press up high up the field.

But then Lacazette got us a clinical second, since he picked up the ball on the edge of the area, and curled in beautifully.

Valencia equalised via Gameiro, through some bumbling defending as normal, but Auba got his second with a finish from the near post.  Maitland-Niles got the assist, as he beat his man on the right-hand side, and Auba was in the right space to slot home. His hat-trick was sublime, as he dribbled in the area and hit high into the roof of the net, to secure our first European final  in 13 years.

Impressions/player ratings

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This was contemporary Arsenal in a nutshell. And this was evidenced over both legs.

Our attacking play was strong, with Auba/Laca being peak.

But then defensively we were weak again, as both goals Valencia scored were due to bad positioning and not challenging the ball nor opposing players when required.

But my view on Valencia is that whilst they passed the ball well, they too are like us. They are strong in attacking areas, but poor defensively, due to an imbalance in their side. I’m not really impressed by them, and akin to Napoli we were dominant in both legs, ultimately.

I feel we just had more penetrative and creative potential than they did, and we did well to get back and hold dominion over them in both legs.

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I feel that many of us were wary, given how our good friends and Liverpool made telling comebacks. But then it wasn’t to be our turn to fold like Barca and Ajax did.

There is talk as to whether Lacazette and Aubameyang are world-class. I believe they are. Auba’s scoring record is excellent, and up there with the very best in Europe, nay the world.

As for Laca, I cannot think of many forwards like him. He’s what is seen as a “nine and a half”, who can play up top, but drop deep and build and create play when needed. If anything, he’s like Dennis Berkgamp, who wasn’t an out and out forward, but certainly had an expansive game (though Henry did too and he was an exception amongst strikers or more classical centre-forwards).  The closest perhaps in Europe at the moment is Greizmann, but for me Laca provides something unique amongst strikers, and for this he is world-class in my view.

It’s a very subjective label in truth, but for me I don’t see how their performances can show they’re not world-class.

The defence and GK were reasonable. They got caught out early on in both halves, but other than this looked reasonable. Maitland-Niles was targeted on our right, but then I don’t feel this is down to his poor play per se, since it was a burden to handle the cross-field balls in his area.

The midfield was fairly solid, but then he Xhaka didn’t really create much. Torreira was able to influence play and be combative too, though he was able in this game.

Ozil was not at his best, but then did hold the ball up well, and contributed to plays when required.

And for the strikers, Auba’s hat-trick is MOTM-worthy. And Laca was his creative and technical standard for us. Auba’s work-rate, which has been critiqued of late, was top-notch in this game, and he’s proving he is top-quality.

Overall, this game was highly satisfying. Arsenal has been blessed with top strikers in its history – Radford, George, MacDonald, Smith, Wright, Bergkamp, Kanu, Wiltord, Henry, and now Auba and Laca. They’re the latest in a continued line of top forwards, and I feel privileged to have them at our football club.

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Chelsea beat Eintracht Frankfurt, and we’re facing them and Maurizio Sarri in the Azerbaijani final. He’s never won a major trophy (like our good friend’s Mr. Poch), and I naturally hope both remain trophy-less very soon. Chelsea aren’t any mugs, but then I genuinely feel that man for man we’re better than they are in specific areas. And Sarri isn’t tactically the best, which is in contrast to Emery.  It won’t be easy – but then there are some odds in our favour.

But this would be the seventh European final in our history. And we haven’t had to wait 30 years or more for one like our Lillywhite buddies have. It’s about time we got a European trophy again, as a club of our global size and renown should have won more of them.

On to Baku – and hopefully a fourth Europa League in “el jefe’s” career, and a third Arsenal European title in the club’s history.

Cech 6

Maitland-Niles 6

Koscielny 7

Sokratis 6

Kolasinac 6

Monreal 5

Torreira 6

Xhaka 5

Ozil 6

Lacazette 9

Aubameyang 10

Mustafi 7

Guendouzi 6

Mkhitaryan 7

Emery – 8 – Tactically got it right, and the line-up was strong. Still some defensive issues, but then we had the attacking prowess to get the win.

Man of the match

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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Some say he’s not world-class, but then I for one beg to differ. Yes, he’s missed chances in some games, but I feel he is showing his true qualities for us now.

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One Response to Valencia 2-4 Arsenal (3-7 Agg.): Gunners book Europa League Final with Aubazette Flourish [+ Player Ratings]

  1. Victor Thompson May 13, 2019 at 10:57 am #

    When Auba played for Dortmund he had a fearsome reputation and he was one of few strikers who did intimidate his opposition. He had Usan Bolt type speed and a deadly efficient talent for scoring. I for one, was wary of Arsenal having to oppose him if we ever drew Dortmund in competitions. That was my impression of him before we signed him.There were players world wide who shared those attributes and it was the fact that he was in their company that I thought of him as world class.

    Since we signed him he immediately delivered the goals we had expected and on the basis of his first season commentators and pundits were tipping him to win the golden boot. He has done that ( along with Mane and Salah ) His final two matches have been convincing to assuage any further doubts that he is world class, and I would say that he is feared every bit as much as Harry Kane.

    Lacazzette is a different player altogether. I recall seeing him playing against us for Lyon and I was not impressed. As is common for Arsenal, any player who is linked with a possible transfer to Arsenal is hyped up in the public medias and I could not see what all the fuss is about. I have changed my mind completely. Firstly his work ethic is fantastic. He is regularly seen in the opposite penalty box one minute and popping up in ours,the next. He roughs up defenders and is frequently the target of robust tackles, but he gets up and battles on.It is almost a given that at some time in every game he is the victim of a desperate tackle across his shins. His touch is delightful and he can cushion the first touch then corkscrew in the smallest of spaces to get his shot in. A lot of his game reminds me of Ian Wright. He is about the same build and just as unpredictable. Unlike Auba his major talent is not in the number of goals he scores, but rather it is a combination of link play and scoring. He and Auba have a great partnership which can only get better and I would bet that defending coaches will delegate equal attention to both of them, so in the status of the threat they pose, I believe that they are both world class.

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