Arsenal 1-0 FC Zurich: Gunners prime the group

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Match report Participant rankingsArteta response

Arsenal completed prime of the Europa League Group A after a 1-0 win over FC Zurich on the Emirates final evening. Kieran Tierney produced a second of high quality which was enough to win the sport, and ending prime means we keep away from one other spherical of fixtures early within the new 12 months.

This thread from ESPN’s Dale Johnson outlines completely why that could be a good factor.

The end result, good. The remaining, properly. Not a lot. I’m not going to complain a few win, removed from it. We made 7 modifications from the facet that beat Nottingham Forest, however fleshed out the beginning line-up with Ben White, Gabriel and Gabriel Jesus, whereas Aaron Ramsdale began once more as a result of Matt Turner stays injured.

Zurich began properly, excessive on the fumes their followers had produced with a load of flares, however we regularly received ourselves into it. A pleasant move from Reiss Nelson discovered White overlapping, he minimize it again, Vieira’s shot was blocked, it squirted in the direction of Tierney outdoors the field and he received his foot over it properly to half-volley into the underside nook.

Vieira had first half possibilities; one blocked by a defender, one by Jesus (I feel). Eddie compelled the keeper into a few saves, one from a really first rate header, and there was a second when he might have gone down within the field when his shirt was pulled, however given the way in which this referee gave us nothing all evening, I’m not satisfied we’d have gotten a penalty even when he did.

Clearly this specific official watched the Southampton match lately, and thought ‘This ref is my hero. I’m going to be precisely like like him!’. So, Zurich defenders had been allowed clatter our gamers from behind time and time once more, and we received nothing, however when their massive child left-back set free a squeal each time anybody went close to him, they received a free kick. Tierney actually had his shirt ripped in two and we didn’t get a call in our favour. The choice to e-book Gabriel and provides Zurich a free kick within the depths of second half harm time was an abomination. Fortunately it got here to nothing.

Nonetheless, I feel we had been nearly worth for our lead on the break. We’d had probably the most possibilities, 12 photographs to their 4, but it surely wasn’t particularly convincing. With PSV main in Norway, a one aim lead was precarious, and because the second half developed, you would sense the nervousness creeping in. Mikel Arteta introduced on Bukayo Saka and Thomas Partey, the latter particularly ought to have given us extra management, particularly on one other evening when the sport roughly move Albert Sambi Lokonga by, however he couldn’t do this.

Takehiro Tomiyasu and Martin Odegaard got here on, however at that time the momentum – such because it was – was with the guests. In 20+ minutes, Odegaard solely had 8 touches of the ball, which tells you a large number about the place the sport was being performed. Zurich had a aim rightly disallowed for offside, a warning signal which didn’t see us react in another manner besides ‘Oh shit, let’s defend’.

They fired one simply over, Tomi went off injured, Cedric got here on, there have been a few harmful low crosses, after which that late free kick I’ve beforehand talked about. Not one little bit of of it was any enjoyable in any respect. I do know we are able to’t win each sport 5-0, and Zurich have lately modified supervisor which has clearly helped them, but it surely was fairly low-grade stuff all spherical.

Then, the ultimate whistle. A much more welcome sound than the massive child wailing like a giant child, and a few reduction. The very last thing we’d like is one other couple of fixtures on this competitors, and whenever you take a look at the likes of Ajax, Barcelona, Juventus, Monaco, Man Utd, Sevilla and Roma in that group that should undergo a play-off spherical, we needs to be glad we’re not concerned in that. So, on the premise of doing the job we wanted to do on this group stage, honest play.

Final season with out European soccer wasn’t nice, not least as a result of it meant too few of the squad had been concerned and there have been occasions when gamers had been coming in too chilly. We’ve been capable of give enjoying time to the ‘second string’, and that’s invaluable in itself, and hopefully helpful down the road, however I don’t assume anybody has actually stood out throughout these video games.

Two targets in six for Eddie, you’d in all probability have anticipated a bit extra. Lokonga has had his struggles in that deep mendacity function, however performed additional ahead final evening he was mainly lacking for a lot of the first half, and whereas higher within the second interval, there was simply one thing lacking from his sport after we had been beneath stress. An absence of presence. Fabio Vieira continues to be discovering his ft in English soccer, and had some good moments in these Europa League video games, however perhaps didn’t fairly ship as a lot as we’d hoped. Which isn’t to be vastly crucial of those guys, however I don’t assume it’s an unreasonable statement that there’s nonetheless room for enchancment.

That mentioned, I used to be more than happy for Tierney whose season has been powerful, dealing for the primary time in his profession with a scenario the place he’s not a primary choose each week. Final evening I assumed he was in all probability our greatest participant, and he confirmed he’s up for this problem by producing the decisive second of the sport.

Afterwards, Mikel Arteta mentioned:

Clearly we had some massive possibilities that we didn’t put away and that made the sport tougher within the final 15 to twenty minutes. We didn’t management sure conditions and we needed to dig during which we did. We discovered a solution to win and we’re prime of the group.

In some ways, the Europa League group stage is sort of a journey to a proctologist. You simply need to grit your tooth, get via it, and hope for the absolute best end result. It’s possible you’ll take away your glove, physician, we’re via.

The knockout rounds await.

We’ll have a podcast for you a bit later this morning, keep tuned for that. For now, have a superb one.


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