For Arsenal fans it was a familiar story, for Unai Emery, it was the opposite. He should have known but perhaps he wore an optimistic hat or a lucky tie, thinking that they could help him avoid the deficiencies of previous Arsenal teams in the same competition.
In attack Arsenal stuck to the script, delivering goals aplenty but in defence, they went into meltdown without good cause. They were guilty of panic, ineptitude and shoddy defending worthy of an award. It was a case of fans hiding behind their hands, in both disbelief and embarrassment, it was hard to tell which.
The concern is that Vorskla Poltava expected to get beaten quite heavily but they did enough to get the alarm bells ringing at the end by claiming two goals that they didn’t deserve. Arsenal were in the generous mood and a clean sheet these days is as rare as a José Mourinho smile.
It was a ponderous and insipid performance at times and the fans had to find other avenues of entertainment which included taking selfies with former Gunner Sol Campbell who was a welcome visitor. Well, you have to be creative and inventive at Arsenal matches to get through a full 90 minutes these days.
Vorskla Poltava had a game plan which included kicking anything that moved, excluding the ball and frustrating the opposition at every opportunity. One wondered if an official had informed them that they would get extra points for staying in their own half, because they seemed more than happy to spend the majority of the contest there, clogging up the supply lines.
They seemed quite familiar with the negative aspects of the game and quickly припаркував автобус (parked the bus) but the Gunners got the break they needed when Mkhitaryan pounced on a stray ball. Just outside the Arsenal box. He sprinted upfield and whipped the ball out to the left for Iwobi. Aubameyang was on high alert on the right and was dutifully picked out for a dramatic sliding finish.
There was a suggestion that he called for the ball in Ukrainian and that the ball was subsequently left for him to create the first goal. If so, it’s highly amusing and shows a great deal of naivety in the opposition. It had been a drab first half but the goal managed to put a smile on the fans faces which could now be reflected in further Sol Campbell snaps.
Welbeck added to the scoreline in the 48th minute. Aubameyang added his second after 56 and Ozil, in his cameo appearances rounded things off (77) and at that point, it looked like a satisfying nights work. Then a mistake by Lichtsteiner got Vorskla Poltava off the mark through Chesnakov and with the nerves jangling, Sharper added a second. On this evidence, neither Lichtsteiner or Leno are about to push Bellerin or Cech for a starting slot, on the other hand, Lucas Torreira is becoming a must-have player.
Every game seems to indicate what a sensational addition this young guy is going to be for Arsenal. Direct, solid, determined and attack-minded, seem to be a constant feature of the players game and he will only get better which is an exciting prospect. If he is only giving us half of what he is capable of then Arsenal may be set to mount a serious challenge next season after Emery raids the transfer market at the next available opportunity.
If only everyone showed the same attributes and burning desire, then Arsenal would be higher in the premiership than their current position. Torreira and Aubameyang must occasionally look around at teammates wondering how they made the first team as much as the fans. Elneny and Torreira gave Arsenal the stability to allow Arsenal to press forward and Mkhitaryan was the main beneficiary in this process by allowing him creative freedom.
So, Arsenal move on to the next game at Everton, with Emery still none the wiser what his best team is. Fitting the likes of Ramsey, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan and Ozil into the middle is a nightmare at present because the various permutations just don’t seem to work.
It appears to me that Arsenal only sporadically find a gear through individuals at present and not collectively. If they can all start to fire at the same time, the season may start to look encouraging. On reflection, Mkhitaryan and Iwobi did themselves no harm in spells but it’s the defence that causes the pulse to race. Until that is resolved, Emery has little chance of adding to his Europa league tally.
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