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So Far So Good For Gunners In Europa League After The Win Against Qarabag Continuing Their Eight-Match Winning Streak


Emile Smith Rowe and Matteo Guendouzi scored their first competitive Arsenal goals as the Gunners resisted heavy pressure from the hosts and claimed a 3-0 win at Qarabag in the Europa League. This victory makes eight wins in the row for Arsenal both in domestic and european competitions.

Smith Rowe’s second half goal made him the club’s youngest goalscorer since Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain netted in September 2011. After Sokratis headed home the opening goal against Qarabag from a corner kick, which put Arsenal ahead inside 5 mins of the match, the Gunners looked comfortable to sit back and defend, as the Qarabag players pushed towards the goal attack after an attack.

The high pressing game also seemed to be the downfall for Qarabag as more often then not they were caught on the counter only for Arsenal to not make full use of the opportunity and putting the game to bed much before time. It was only after the second half and a first senior team goal by Emile Smith Rowe which eased the pressure and the Gunners looked far more comfortable on the ball against Qarabag. Soon after a third goal was added by another teenager and new signing Matteo Guendouzi, a well worked counter which cut the opposition defense wide open which allowed the French teenager to rifle the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box making it 3-0 Qarabag.

Bernd Leno has been impressive since his debut and has grabbed the opportunity with both of his hands after Cech suffered a hamstring injury, the German stopper kept the Gunners in the game by pulling off a string of fine saves, also looked far more comfortable with the ball at his feet and his distribution was something to watch vs Qarabag as it helped build up on number of possible attacks only for the forwards to squander the chances.

Danny Welbeck was having a bad day in front of the goal, though his work rate was exceptional and was often seen tracking back Qarabag players but was unable to convert his chances nor was he able to establish himself as a threat while going forward.
Arsenal were second best in terms of chances created and it was not until the introduction of Mesut Ozil and Lacazette  in the second half vs Qarabag that they showed really intent and started moving the ball around the box much faster.

There were quite a number of positives to take from the Qarabag game for Unai Emery and here are the most significant out of them :

1. Leno showed why exactly he is worth 22 million and proving himself to be the first choice goalkeeper.

Leno was excellent against Qarabag. He has shown that with the ball at his feet he is decisive in his actions and any awkward situation in front of goal is avoided. Strong in the air and great positioning were some of the attributes displayed by Leno in the game, where he justified his price tag and also gave a hint of what to expect from him in the coming weeks and the season ahead.

2. Plenty of firepower for domestic competitions.

With the likes of Smith Rowe and Guendouzi making a mark and adding goals to match their ability on the pitch make things easier for the manager to allocate or concentrate on few players towards a particular competition especially with the given nature of the game involved with injuries due to overplaying. The Squad Depth allows the manager to experiment with his bench strength while giving his starting XI a well deserved rest.

3. No lack of creativity.

With the likes of Mikhitaryan, Ramsey, Xhaka and Aubameyang not playing against Qarabag and with Ozil on the bench ultimately put a whole lot of pressure on the players to step up and take the responsibilty. The midfield played pretty well with the midfielders working for each other and covering up spaces left behind by the players in order to choke the opposition attack. The Gunners managed to score 3 past Qarabag without having any of the big names on the pitch which gives a huge boost in confidence to the players as well as the manager.

Arsenal showed great character by not letting the game slip from their hands. A few individual performances helped them in not only keeping a clean sheet but also made it sure that there are second options regarding any position in the squad at Emery’s disposal. Arsenal now face Fulham on Sunday in Premier League for which they will be travelling to Craven Cottage in what will be an exciting London Derby.

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