Firstly, a get well soon message to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who contracted malaria whilst on international duty.
Secondly, what a performance and result by Arsenal last night. I do hope a 4-0 at a ground where no other club has won for the last eighteen months isn’t just dismissed because ‘Slavia were poor’. From start to finish and from the first player to step onto the pitch to the last, Arsenal were simply too good.
Some moments were better than others but that’s what usually happens over the course of ninety minutes but when it came to creating opportunities to score, our players were ruthless.
Arsenal were ahead early but VAR intervened. It took them ages to spot a little speck of dust on Smith Rowe’s boot was offside. Saka had placed his shot perfectly it seemed but the Slavia keeper tipped it onto the woodwork. Unlucky for him, the rebound came straight out to ESR who fired it home. But it wasn’t to count. Head and shoulders dropped? Absolutely not, in fact I think it was the opposite. Arsenal had breached the opposition’s goal and they wanted more.
Within twenty five minutes, the game was all but over.
Calum Chambers and Thomas Partey played a part in our opening goal but it was Emile Smith Rowe who played a ridiculously good ball through the legs of a Slavia defender to Pepe. I thought the chance had gone but our left winger had other ideas. Speed, footwork and a lovely finish over the keepers head.
Smith-Rowe was at it again down our right hand side. He played the ball to Saka, a Slavia defender was a bit clumsy and as Saka hit the ground, referee Cakir pointed to the spot. Up stepped Lacazette, cool as a cucumber, with a perfect penalty. 2-0.
Arsenal seemed to be enjoying themselves and it wasn’t long before 2-0 became 3-0. This time Chambers was the provider for Saka to score. Earlier in the game our number 7 had hit his shot across goal, this time he placed it just inside the near post. Kolar in the Slavia goal had no chance.
The second half was about keeping what we had and not doing anything silly, staying in control and seeing the game out. Of course we all would have loved to see more goals but on Sunday we play again. Even so, with ten minutes to go, Lacazette got his second of the night to make it 4-0. A fine goal it was too.
That’s Arsenal under Mikel Arteta at their best. It’s what we Arsenal fans crave to see on a regular basis and hopefully in time we will. The kids aren’t kids anymore, certainly not Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli. They are the players give Arsenal energy, direction and skill. Their hunger, willingness and pride drives them on. When Pepe and Lacazette play alongside or around them, they get on board.
Apart from taking goal kicks, I don’t think Bernd Leno had much to do. The back four were solid and dependable, clearing everything and anything which looked dangerous. Pablo Mari and Rob Holding are developing into a solid looking central pairing and Calum Chambers, well, he’s showing sign of still being that right back teased and tormented by Swansea. For Mikel Arteta to opt for him ahead of Hector Bellerin speaks volumes in my opinion. Granit Xhaka at left back continued to be Mr dependable. Admittedly, quicker wingers would probably cause him problems but last night he did well. As did Thomas Partey and Dani Ceballos.
Like I said, everyone played their part and when they do, Arsenal really can play well.
Another positive was that none of our players appeared to pick up any injuries and the changes Mikel Arteta made were probably more about the game against Fulham and giving another five players a runout. Even Folarin Balogun experienced a few minutes on the pitch. Gabriel Martinelli too and after his run at the Slavia defender, he deserved a goal but his shot whistled just wide.
Next up for Arsenal in this competition is Villareal when Mikel Arteta will go head to head with the man he replaced, Unai Emery. Two Spaniard’s who have a point to prove. I think there’ll be a few Arsenal players with a point to prove too.
In the League, it’s Fulham on Sunday. A lunchtime kick off at The Emirates.
See you in the comments.