Another soggy night in Arsenal’s season but this time we had a sunshine performance with Arsenal brushing aside Standard Liege in a 4-0 win in the Europa league.
Gabriel Martinelli and Kieran Tierney were the standout performers for me and incidentally, it’s worth noting that Arsenal had a clean sheet with Mustafi in defence. That’s how much the gunners didn’t follow the script they generally employ in the premier league.
No place for Ozil or Xhaka on this European adventure but a welcome outing for Ceballos who hasn’t really been given a run of games at Arsenal to show how good he really is.
The side looked like a mixed bag and consisted of:- Martinez, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney, Willock, Torreira, Maitland Niles, Ceballos, Nelson, Martinelli and it was a welcome return for Rob Holding and Ainsley Maitland Niles in a preferred forward role.
The fact that Tierney and Bellerin were excluded from Arsenal squad the Old Trafford excursion with old rivals Manchester United caused many supporters a great deal of frustration, but they were both back, looking comfortable. If anything Bellerin showed signs of a heavy touch but that will disappear with more minutes under his belt for Arsenal.
It was a lively start and from the first Pweep of the refs whistle, Martinelli looked as sharp as a cutlass. He nearly gave Arsenal the lead after winning the ball outside the oppositions area to put Willock in on goal but good defensive work took it away from the youngster.
With 13 minutes on the clock and the impressive Tierney swept down the left delivering a pin point swirling cross, for Martinelli to head home. For someone that is deemed to be a winger rather than a striker, his header looked like that of a natural centre forward.
His appetite is just as impressive as his ability and work rate, he is heading in a forward direction at every opportunity and sniffs out the goal like it were truffles.
Two minutes later and he was on the score sheet again with a goal that had a lot to do with the insistence and persistence of Reiss Nelson.
The Brazilian shifted and moved the ball onto his right foot before striking a sweet shot into the far right side netting.
We then had to wait until the 21st minute for Joe Willock’s goal, which was the more difficult of the three chances that he had during the game. Tierney found Nelson who’s thunderous ricochet fell into the path of the young midfielder.
Willock then scorched his low shot into the same corner as Martinelli’s 2nd. The left side was looking the fruitful and Liege were unable to cope with the pace and drive of Arsenal going forward.
There were chances at both ends but the better belonged to Arsenal, who could have had a penalty after Nelson was hauled over in the area by the desperate Liege keeper and Martinelli looked for a third with a swerving shot that narrowly avoided the top right corner of the net.
Nelson did his best to put the Brazilian back on the score sheet for his hat trick with a wicked cross but Martinelli failed to connect whilst sliding in.
On reflection the score could have been six or more but the forth was as a result of some hard work by Ceballos, who began the move and then worked his way into the box before meeting Martinelli’s cheeky chip/cross with an extended right leg for his first Arsenal goal.
He deserved it, having worked hard by chasing everything including lost causes, something a certain German would do well to add to his game.
Standard Liege were undeniably poor but you can only beat what’s in front of you and Arsenal did that with style and energy. Now for the premier league. Can this form translate in to a decent run of form to establish their credentials for a top four ? That’s as uncertain as the weather and the future of Mesut Ozil at Arsenal.