Arsenal overcame a potential banana skin in our Europa League opener against Vorskla Potlava, with a comfortable victory over the Ukrainians.
Unai Emery took charge of his first European game as Arsenal boss and rotated his side, with a depth in our squad evident by the lineup that was named.
Only three players made the cut from our win over Newcastle in the weekend, with Sokratis and Nacho Monreal keeping their places in defence, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang taking the strikers spot, but the rest of the side saw some of our players on the fringes so far this season, taking the spotlight.
Two players made their full debut, with goalkeeper Bernd Leno finally taking the gloves ahead of Petr Cech, and Lucas Torreira getting the nod in midfield after some impressive cameos in the Premier League.
Rob Holding took the centre back spot alongside Sokratis, and Mohamed Elneny partnered Torreira in the centre of the park. Henrikh Mkhitaryan came into the side as well as Danny Welbeck, as did Alex Iwobi - who was the real spark for our first forty-five minutes.
It was a quiet start to the half, but possession was dominated by our team. Vorskla were defending in numbers, and we were struggling to find a way through - all the onus was on us to break them down. If we were going to do that, it was looking like it would come from Iwobi though, and it was the Nigerian who gave us our first ‘bum off seat’ moment, with a piercing run that called the Vorskla keeper into action with a diving header!
Four minutes later, it was Iwobi again, but his low ball was too far ahead of Aubameyang for it to worry Vorskla.
Up to around 80% possession was counting for very little, but there was some cause for cheer, with Torreira, Iwobi and Lichtsteiner performing well. Aubameyang was being kept quiet though, with just four touches in the first twenty minutes.
Iwobi was linking up well with Nacho, and the Spaniard teed up Iwobi, who curled a great effort over the bar. Still no goal though.
A few minutes later though, we had our breakthrough, and it was Iwobi again at the heart of things. Mkhitaryan intercepted the ball, gives it to Iwobi who runs forward and offloads for Aubameyang who put his effort into the bottom corner, and Arsenal had the goal they warranted.
Nearly half of our attacks were coming from Iwobi’s left wing, but Vorskla had a couple of moments before half time that were a timely reminder that slack play could be punished, but both occasions were thwarted by superb tackles by Lichtsteiner and Sokratis.
There was still time for Iwobi to impress again, and he blitzed two defenders easily before setting up Aubameyang again, but his cutback was desperately defended in the end. The Gabon striker did hit the post a minute later, but it was the last action of the first half.
The half time whistle blew and we had the lead, but our lack of shots on target was disconcerting. We weren’t in danger, but the scoreline alone lends itself to danger.
Half time stat to impress you - Torreira made 37 passes, the second most amount of touches after Monreal, and won more duels than anyone in our team. Not only that, but he maintained an 87% passing percentage and put in four crosses. These stats were provided by BBC Sport, and they show how vital Torreira could become to our cause.
The second half began as the first ended - with Iwobi on fire, and his trickery set up Mkhitaryan who fired just wide, but a minute later, we had doubled our lead.
It was our Armenian who set this one up, with a delicious cross that was perfect for a lurking Danny Welbeck who headed in. A minute later, Welbeck was an inch away from an Auba cutback that would have killed the game off.
Iwobi set up Auba for our next chance, and his volley fizzed over, but Vorskla were creaking and we soon had the third goal.
Auba linked up with his former teammate Mkhitaryan, and this bond between the two isn’t the first time that a goal has been reaped from it. Auba took the assist and lashed home emphatically. Two goals for the Gabon striker, and they were needed after a dry spell in front of goal.
Emery then made his first calls of the night, with the brace-scoring Auba being replaced as well as Torreira, with Ozil and Guendouzi coming on. Welbeck then took the striker spot.
We were consistently probing, but the next incident of note was Iwobi coming off for youngster Emile Smith-Rowe. The Nigerian can look back on a fantastic night that will do his first team prospects no harm.
Seventy three minutes in, it was four. Lichtsteiner’s reactions saw him get to the ball ahead of Vorskla, and his excellent cross found Ozil, who coolly side-footed it first time into the goal.
Then, Vorskla spoiled the perfect night with a shot from the blue, their captain smashing a first time effort high into the net to rob Leno of a clean sheet on his debut.
The remaining minutes saw Ozil, Smith-Rowe and Guendouzi take centre stage, with all three intent on creating goals for their side. We did start to switch off at the end though, which wouldn’t have pleased Emery one bit - especially when we conceded again. The defending was slack as Sharpar was left alone torun into the box and fire home.
It was the last action of the game. It was a disappointing end, but we can take heart that even with a heavily rotated side, we are still looking fluid and creating chances. Also, a special mention to Iwobi and Torreira, who may well have played themselves into contention for the weekend.
The Europa League has started, and we won, scoring four goals in the process.