Arsenal moved top of Europa League Group A with a straightforward 3-0 win against Bodo/Glimt at the Emirates.
Matt Turner swapped in for Aaron Ramsdale in goal, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney came in for Ben White, William Saliba and Oleksandr Zinchenko in defence, while Fabio Vieira and Albert Sambi Lokonga replaced Martin Odegaard and Thomas Partey in midfield. In attack, Marquinhos and Eddie Nketiah got the nod while Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Jesus dropped to the bench.
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Even with their alternative line-up, it didn’t take long for Arsenal to find their rhythm. Vieira and Nketiah had chances to score early on before, with nine minutes on the clock, the former glanced the crossbar with a rising shot following a clever flick-on from the latter.
Bodo/Glimt tried to drop deep and frustrate their hosts, falling back into a 4-5-1 without the ball in an effort to close off the space in midfield. Arsenal refused to rush things, however, and were rewarded for their patience when, with a little over 20 minutes gone, they got their opener.
Gabriel Martinelli dropped deep, picked up the ball and charged forwards before sliding a pass to Tierney on his left. He rattled the post with a belting shot, but Nketiah followed up for a simple tap-in.
Five minutes later, Arsenal were 2-0 up after Vieira teed up Holding for a thumping header. Bodo/Glimt’s defence crumbled as Xhaka forced an acrobatic save from goalkeeper Nikita Haikin at a free-kick, Tierney lashed past the far post, Nketiah squandered a one-on-one and Vieira fired wide from the edge of the area, leaving Arteta to wonder how they were not further ahead at the break.
Arsenal started the second half in much the same fashion, Martinelli tearing up the left flank and teeing up Xhaka for a shot which stung Haikin’s palms. Marquinhos headed wide on the rebound.
Bodo/Glimt rallied belatedly, Hugo Vetlesen, Joel Mvuka and Ulrik Saltnes getting shots away before Amahl Pellegrino forced Turner, on his home debut, into a fine save. Arteta made a triple change in an effort to freshen things up, with Martinelli, Xhaka and Marquinhos making way for Jesus, Odegaard and Saka.
Arsenal settled down after that and should have added a third when Odegaard played through Nketiah, who blazed high and wide with only the keeper to beat. Instead it would fall to Vieira to round off the scoring after a lovely dribble from Jesus, who set up his team-mate for an angled shot into the roof of the net.
TALKING POINT – Arsenal’s supporting cast impress
Other than a 20-minute period in the middle of the second half, this was a strong all-round performance from a much-changed Arsenal team.
Turner impressed in goal when called upon, Holding was solid – even making a late goalline clearance to deny Saltnes – Tierney gave an enterprising showing at left-back and Tomiyasu did well on the opposite flank, making it an especially good night for the defence. It was a little more scattergun in attack with Nketiah, in particular, wasting several chances, though he can still be satisfied with a well-taken goal.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – Fabio Vieira (Arsenal)
He ended the game with a goal and assist but, on top of that, Vieira was the creative heartbeat of the midfield.
He’s only made one start in the Premier League so far but, if he continues to play like this in Europe, Arteta will feel able to rely on him more often as the season goes on. His passing and movement in midfield left Bodo/Glimt chasing shadows and, even if he tired a little in the second half, more game time could do wonders for him.
Arsenal: Turner 7, Tomiyasu 7, Holding 8, Magalhaes 7, Tierney 7, Vieira 8, Lokonga 6, Xhaka 6, Marquinhos 6, Nketiah 6, Martinelli 7
Subs: Jesus 7, Odegaard 7, Saka 6, White 6, Nelson 5
Bodo/Glimt: Haikin 6, Sampsted 5, Moe 5, Lode 5, Wembangomo 4, Vetlesen 6, Berg 5, Saltness 6, Mvuka 6, Espejord 5, Pellegrino 5
Subs: Solbakken 5, Gronbaek 5, Hoibraten N/A, Konradsen N/A, Salvesen N/A
9’ VIEIRA HITS THE WOODWORK! Xhaka dinks a ball over the top to Tierney, who cuts back for Nketiah. He flicks the ball on to Vieira, whose angled shot glances the crossbar on the way over.
23’ GOAL! Arsenal have their opener. Martinelli drops deep, picks up the ball and bursts forwards before picking out Tierney to his left. He clangs the post with a thunderous shot, but Nketiah scores on the follow-up.
28’ GOAL! What a ball. From the ensuing corner, Vieira’s initial delivery is deflected back to him. Without breaking his stride he sends an arcing cross into the middle of the box, where Holding rises highest and nods into the far corner.
56’ GOOD SAVE! Vetlesen is dispossessed by Gabriel Magalhaes on the edge of the area, but Bodo/Glimt win it back. Vetlesen has a shot blocked, Arsenal fail to clear and Pellegrino follows up with an improvised effort which is saved well by Turner.
86’ GOAL! It’s absolutely superb from Jesus, who dances into the box and dribbles past several defenders. He tees up Vieira for an angled shot into the roof of the net, killing off the game once and for all.
90’ OFF THE LINE! Arsenal get in a muddle at the back and Saltnes forces Turner into a save from close range. The ball loops up into the air and almost drops into the net, but Holding hoofs it away.
- Nketiah has scored 12 goals across his last 15 starts for Arsenal in all competitions according to Opta, netting in each of his last four starts for Arteta’s side in the Europa League.
- Arsenal have won nine of their opening 10 games of the season in all competitions for only the third time in the club’s history, having also done so in 1903-04 and 2007-08.
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