By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal with a few changes compared to last match. Özil in the starting line up and also Lichtsteiner starting the match. Remember Arsenal must win with a 2 goal advantage. Be it 2-0, 3-1, 4-2, 17-15, whatever.
Arsenal team: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Özil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang.
On the beach: Leno, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Torreira, Ramsey, Suarez, Nketiah.
Lichtseiner with a good cross that is picked up by Iwobi but his shot straight at the keeper. Aubameyang with a good rush on the right flank and his low cross is diverted in the goal by a Bate defender. GOAL! 1-0 to The Arsenal after 4 minutes.
Iwobi with a curling shot but the ball goes just wide . Özil with a low cross to Mkhitaryan but he misses his kick and the ball goes well over. Bate Borisov with a first attack but the ball goes in the side net for a goal kick. Another attack from Bate and a striker has a shot that goes past Cech but Lichtsteiner clears the ball off the goal line. Phew…. This shows we do need to make sure we score at least 3 goals to have a margin. Still 1-0 after 15 minutes.
Arsenal no longer attacking at full speed after the opening goal and letting Bate more in the match. Monreal goes doenw at the edge of the penalty area but the ref sees no foul. Xhaka with a thunderous shot but the keeper punches it over the crossbar. Mkhitaryan with a crosshot that almost finds Aubameyang but the defender first on the ball. Özil chesting the ball back to Cech after a Bate cross. Arsenal now back in full attack mode with Bate defending with all the players they have. A few dangerous looking crosses but the defenders can clear. Aubameyang on the turn but he couldn’t get enough power on his shot. Aubameyang with a header but this time the ball goes over. Still 1-0 after 30 minutes.
Monreal with a low cross to Özil who misses his shot and then Xhaka lets fly but with his weaker right foot and the ball goes over. Lichtsteiner with a volley after a corner but not really on target. Özil with an attempted volley but the ball goes over. Aubameyang wins a corner. Xhaka takes it and Mustafi comes in and jumps in front of the defender and heads the ball in the net. GOAL!! 2-0 to The Arsenal after 39 minutes. Now let us keep that clean sheet.
Monreal with a good run on the flank but his low cross is cut out. Aubameyang almost released after a free kick that is quickly taken but the keeper blocks the ball. Aubameyang is clearly blocked just outside the penalty area but the ref sees no foul. There clearly was one. Arsenal lead 2-0 after 45 minutes.
A first Arsenal attack in the second half sees Monreal taking a shot but using his right foot it went well off target. A shot from distance from Guendouzi goes half a meter wide and over. Bate then has a dangerous moment in the Arsenal penalty area as Arsenal can’t clear but the shot is stopped by Cech. Let us score that third goal to give us a cushion. Mkhitaryan slips after a good move between Iwobi and Özil and then Xhaka has a shot that goes well wide. Iwobi with a low shot but the keeper with an excellent stop. Sokratis is getting ready and I think Koscielny has a problem. And yes after 55 minutes Koscielny goes off. He looked to be struggling a bit in the minutes before. The physio looking at his calf. Mkhitaryan with a header after a cross from Iwobi that goes just wide. Hleb comes on for Bate after 58 minutes. Xhaka swings in a corner and Sokratis beats his man and heads the ball against the bakc of the net. GOAL!!! 3-0 to The Arsenal after 60 minutes. Still must keep that clean sheet.
After 62 minutes Guendouzi is replaced by Torreira. Özil has a shot after some bad defending from Bate but he misses the target. Meanwhile I wonder why we only use the one ball system in the Europa League? Özil tries to play Aubameyang in but he runs out of room in the end. Mkhitaryan finds Aubameyang but his shot hobbles wide with the keeper beaten. Again the ref ignores an obstruction foul on an Arsenal player just outside the penalty area. Iwobi this time the victim. Monreal clearly being tripped is given as a free kick though. Abuameyang takes it but too much in the middle and an easy catch for the keeper. Still 3-0 after 75 minutes.
Mkhitaryan leaves the field after 78 minutes and Suarez comes on to make his home debut. This ref really seems to have a problem with recognising an obstruction. A Bate player commits handball, the ref sees it puts the whistle in his mouth and then….gives nothing. Arsenal playing the ball around a lot with Bate not really looking to come in the Arsenal half with some 6 minutes to go. Bate with some dodgy defending in their penalty area but Arsenal can’t take advantage.
2 minutes of extra time only. 2 goals from directly taken corners made us score 2 goals. I hope we stop with messing up our corners with some silly short routine that sometimes ends up with Cech getting the ball. Monreal receives a nasty kick and Xhaka almost gets a yellow card. WTF…
Arsenal win 3-0. We have seen the magic feet of Özil again and we could and probably should have won with a bigger margin. But no complaints from me tonight. Looking forward to the draw tomorrow.
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