Arsenal beat Sevilla 2-0 on Wednesday evening to move closer to qualifying for the Champions League knockout round.
Leandro Trossard put the hosts ahead just before half-time, collecting a beautiful low cross from Bukayo Saka before slotting the ball past Marko Dimitrovic in the Sevilla net.
Arsenal then doubled their lead in the second half when Saka was set up by Gabriel Martinelli. The match ended like that, but there was a minor blow for Arsenal in the final ten minutes after Saka had to leave the field after receiving treatment for his injury.
here, The athlete James McNicholas has three talking points from the game…
Trossard impresses at centre-forward
In theory, Arsenal entered this match without an established striker. They lost Gabriel Jesus to a hamstring injury in the reverse fixture a fortnight ago, while Eddie Nketiah pulled out late after picking up a knock at Newcastle. This meant that Arteta had to choose between Kai Havertz and Trossard, both of whom preferred to start in deeper positions.
Trossard impressed as a fake player for both Brighton and Arsenal last season, and this was another encouraging outing for the Belgian international. He scored the goal, finishing confidently from Saka’s cross, but what was even more impressive was the way he linked up the play. Trossard explains that you don’t have to be six feet tall to be able to carry the ball. At one point, he received a long throw on the halfway line, controlled the ball and used his low center of gravity to spin away from his man.
Trossard may not be a traditional striker, but he is a very effective player.
Arsenal’s wingers are back on their game
In the Premier League, wingers Saka and Martinelli often find defenders attacking them. And in Europe, for whatever reason, they seem to have been given more space.
Martinelli tormented Juanlo, regularly allowing the full-back to get close before stepping past him and running in behind. On the other hand, the only way for Kiki Salas to try and slow down Saka was to resort to fouls. The 22-year-old has grown accustomed to this treatment and hasn’t let it deter him.
Martinelli and Saka combined for Arsenal’s second goal, with the Brazilian releasing the England international, who swung back inside and finished with confidence. But Saka was forced to leave the field due to injury late in the second half.
Arsenal’s attack has struggled for fluency recently. The strikers’ return to form could signal a major improvement on this front.
Signs of life from Havertz?
Since losing Martin Odegaard shortly before the Newcastle game, Mikel Arteta has changed Havertz’s starting position to play as a ‘right eight’. While he is still some way off from the type of performances that would begin to justify his £65 million ($80 million) price tag, the last two games have sparked some signs of life in the Germany international.
He will be disappointed he didn’t close out the night with a goal: he missed a good headed chance in the game’s opening exchanges and curled a shot from the edge of the box past the far post. However, he contributed well to Arsenal’s side play and pressed alongside Trossard in Arsenal’s 4-4-2 ‘out of possession’ formation.
The problem is that that spot to the right of Arsenal’s midfield trio rightfully belongs to Odegaard. Can Arteta be persuaded to switch Odegaard to the left to allow Havertz to continue his improving form on the right?
What did Arteta say?
On Arsenal’s dominance: “I’m really happy with the team’s performance. They showed aggression and commitment. Even when we lost the ball, we were very good at getting it back. It’s difficult in Europe to control it like we did. That’s why we won it. When you let them be in your own half, “They are a dangerous team. We only allowed one shot in the 97th minute.”
On Saka and Tomiyasu’s injury: “It was just a kick (for Saka) and the doctors told me on the radio that he was not happy to continue. So he will feel a little discomfort, but I hope I assume he will be OK. (Tomiyasu) felt a little discomfort in the first half and we didn’t want to take any chances.” Because he played a lot of minutes. Obviously with Alex (Zinchenko) on the bench, I think it was the right decision.
What’s next for Arsenal?
Saturday, November 11: Burnley (home), Premier League, 3pm GMT, 10am ET
Arsenal’s last match before the November international break will host Burnley. Vincent Kompany’s team had a difficult start this season, winning only once in their first 11 matches. They have also lost four of their last five.
This will be a tough test for Burnley given their only win came against fellow strugglers Luton Town.
Burnley are unbeaten on either of their last two visits to the Emirates Stadium, although a 0-0 draw in January 2022 was their last match there. They have also won the match before – a 1-0 win during the 2020-21 season.
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(Top image: Adrian Denis/AFP via Getty Images)
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