Result: Arsenal 1 – 0 Qarabag
Competition: Europa League
Date: 13th December 2018
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Martinez, Jenkinson, Sokratis, Koscielny, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Elneny, Ozil, Nketiah, Saka, Lacazette
Subs: Iliev, Mkhitaryan, Monreal, Medley, Guendouzi, Gilmour, John-Jules
Arsenal continued their unbeaten run and took three points as an Alexandre Lacazette goal gave them a 1-0 against Qarabag at the Emirates this evening.
Unai Emery handed a first start under his reign to returning skipper Laurent Koscielny, while Mesut Ozil, Sokratis and Alexandre Lacazette added first team quality to what was otherwise a young side including a debut for exciting forward Bukayo Saka.
The tone of the game was set from the first whistle, lots of Arsenal possession as the visitors sat off, and the Gunners had the first attempt on goal when Saka’s curling effort was well saved by the keeper in the 9th minute.
It wasn’t long before we were ahead, taking the lead in the 17th minute. Eddie Nketiah won the ball back, Ozil fed Lacazette in the box, he took a couple of touches, nudged it wide, then lashed the ball home across the keeper. 1-0.
It was pretty much all Arsenal, Qarabag had a couple of corners but showed little else in attack. From an Arsenal corner Nketiah headed over in the 37th minute, and little else happened beyond Stewart Robson’s masterclass of misery on co-commentary so Emery’s side took the 1-0 lead into the break.
There were no half-time changes and the second period began with a Maitland-Niles shot which flew over the bar. Jenkinson had a pop with his left foot but it was blocked, and the defender was at fault with a bad header back to his keeper which Martinez couldn’t keep in. From the resulting corner the Spaniard came and got nowhere near it, but Guerrier headed over.
Qarabag had a good chance to equalise just after the hour mark, a good break down the left saw the ball come to Abullayev but he mis-kicked inside the box. Emery made his first change a minute later, bringing on Zech Medley for goalscorer Lacazette, playing him at left back and pushing Maitland-Niles into the front three on the right hand side.
Good work from the versatile midfielder created a good chance for Saka but his shot was deflected wide, before the 17 year set up Ozil for an effort which was blocked. Saka had an other shot which was easy for the keeper, and in the 72nd minute Nacho Monreal came on for Koscielny who got good minutes under his belt.
Nketiah had the ball in the net after a good cross from Saka but the goal was ruled out for offside, before Emery made his final change bringing of son of Pink Floyd Charlie Gilmour for Mesut Ozil.
There was a chance for Saka to become the club’s youngest ever European goalscorer but with just the keeper to beat he smashed his shot straight into the face of the keeper from 8 yards out.
All in all, not a vintage night at the Emirates, but a goal for Lacazette, an assist for Ozil, a successful comeback for Koscielny, and some nice flashes from the young talent.