Well, it doesn’t get much easier than that does it? I thought the Champions League was supposed to be the ultimate test…….
It was an absolute cruise for Arsenal against Sevilla on Wednesday night at the Emirates. Goals in either half from Leandro Trossard and Bukayo Saka were the difference between the teams but the 2-0 scoreline did not tell the whole story in terms of the vast gulf in quality.
Arsenal were completely dominant. The Spanish side managed to muster just one shot on goal in the entire game and that came deep into stoppage time. It almost felt at that point like Arsenal had taken pity on them and finally allowed them to at least give David Raya something to get his hands on.
The victory made it three wins out of four for Mikel Arteta’s side in Europe and put them on the verge of qualification for the knockout rounds. Victory against Lens next time out will finish the job, while also sealing Arsenal’s passage through as group winners in the process.
Understandably, Arteta was very happy with the performance afterwards.
He said: “I think it was more of the really good things that we did against Newcastle, we didn’t need a response because the team performed extraordinarily well against a team that are really difficult to play against. Today it needed other requirements, tactically we needed something else, we played at home, we need a different game, and we implemented what we wanted really, really well, so I’m really happy with the last two performances.”
There was a lot to like about how Arsenal played. It wasn’t exactly a thrill a minute. But it was a performance filled with the type of control that Arteta wants from his team this season. They strangled the life out of Sevilla, with Declan Rice exceptional once again.
Honestly, he reminds me of that really annoying player you used to sometimes come up against when playing five-a-side. No matter how much you tried to avoid him, he would always be there. You’d deliberately go over to the other side of the pitch to get away from him and get some space, yet every time you got the ball he would be on you, nicking it away before you could even get your head up.
He was ridiculously good. At times I genuinely just found myself laughing at how much better he was than anyone else in the midfield. He’s worth every penny and more what Arsenal spent to bring him in from West Ham. It feels wrong to label someone who cost £105m as a bargain, but Rice really is one.
Bukayo Saka was really bright which was good to see after a few quiet performances. He got the assist for Trossard’s goal, although Jorginho’s superb pass was the key moment in the move that finally broke Sevilla’s resistance.
Saka then got the second himself, expertly finishing off Gabriel Martinelli’s lovely ball through. Martinelli was also excellent. I’m pretty sure when Sevilla’s left-back Juanlu Sanchez went to bed last night all he would have seen running through his head was Martinelli leaving him for dead time after time.
After the defeats against West Ham and Newcastle this was exactly what Arsenal would have wanted. It was a comfortable win which gets them back on track ahead of Burnley this weekend.
There were more injuries, however. Saka limped off late on after getting kicked all night. Arteta did sound hopeful afterwards that it was nothing serious, but it was a concerning sight, especially with so many other key men currently on the sidelines.
Takehiro Tomiyasu also failed to come out for the second half due to ‘discomfort’. Hopefully that does not turn out to be a problem that disrupts what has been a fine season so far for the Japan international.
Right, keep an eye out for an episode of Inside Arsenal extra-time later today. I’ll be sitting down with James Benge this afternoon to record and will hopefully get the show out for around 5pm.
Until then, here’s some player ratings from last night. Have a great day everyone.
Arsenal ratings: Raya 7, White 7, Saliba 8, Gabriel 7, Tomiyasu 6, Jorginho 7, Havertz 7, Rice 9, Saka 8, Trossard 7, Martinelli 8. Subs: Zinchenko 7, Vieria 5, Nelson 5, Kiwior N/A, Elneny N/A.