Arsenal got their Europa League adventure off to a winning start, winning 3-0 in Frankfurt and showing some character to erase some of the bad memories of last weekend.
Our previous match, the 2-2 draw with Watford, showed a severe lack of will and effort as we capitulated under Hornets pressure. For this game, Unai Emery rang the changes, and it paid off as we scored three and kept a clean sheet.
We have our youngsters to thank, as they came in and gave their all to overcome a difficult Eintracht team, and one who hadn’t lost a home European tie since 2007.
Emery opted for youth, with Emi Martinez in goal, Jo Willock and Emile Smith-Rowe in midfield and Bukayo Saka taking a wide berth. The side was mixed with a few drops of experience too, with Xhaka, Aubameyang, Mustafi and Luiz and Kolasinac in the side to aid the kids when the going got tough.
And the going did get tough. Frankfurt are known for their fleeting football and time and again they created openings. But time and again we had the answers to just about keep them out.
Their danger man on the night was Kostic, and he used Chambers rustiness on the right of defence to constantly run at the England defender. Chambers just about kept a lid on him, but so many low crosses went across the box without a touch, so many efforts were dragged wide.
We has Martinez on fine form too, so when Kostic and AC Milan loanee Andre Silva did hit the target, our stopper came good. He also showed plenty of skill when plucking crosses oumped into the box.
We weren’t without efforts either though, and we went into the lead at half time through a deflected Jo Willock shot. It was engineered by Saka’s trickery, and it was a shot in the arm to our hopes.
The second half was a slightly different affair, and we were making things a lot more difficult, although Kostic and in particular Silva was wasteful.
We did tie the game up in the end, and it was Saka again. The wideman curled an effort into the far corner and it was his first goal for the senior side.
Saka wasn’t finished as well, as minutes later, he set one on a plate for Aubameyang for the Gabon striker to continue his red hot streak.
What lessons can we take from this game?
The Kids Are Alright
Saka especially looked excellent. The teenager wasted a few chances to distribute effectively, but the majority of the game he was confronting his marker, showing an excellent touch and he has now broken his duck for the first team. Jo Willock made his presence felt across the pitch, and smith-Rowe played in this capacity for the first time in well over a year. It shows they can step in should injuries arise, and they can cope.
Martinez Knocking on Leno’s Door
The Argentine keeper showed his skills in shot-stopping, commanding his area and plucking balls from the air with ease. Performances like that can be more than enough to remind Bernd Leno he has a serious contender for the gloves.
Mustafi Not The Problem
The German has been much maligned and his errors last season were pretty high profile. This was his first game for some time, and he stepped up. He didn’t slip up, he didn’t leave us open, he just did his job. Perhaps it is not the personnel that is our problem, but the way they set up? Either way, he sat alongside fellow flaky defender David Luiz and we just about kept out a dangerous Frankfurt outfit.
Back to winning ways, and next up is Aston Villa in the Premier League.