Report: Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal (inc. goals)

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Result: Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal
Competition: Europa League
Date: 12 December 2019
Venue: Stade Maurice Dufrasne

Starting XI: Martinez; Luiz, Mavropanos, Sokratis; Maitland-Niles, Willock, Guendouzi, Saka; Smith Rowe, Lacazette, Nelson

Subs: Leno, Chambers, Medley, Olayinka, Martinelli, John-Jules, Aubameyang


Late goals from Alex Lacazette and Bukayo Saka helped Arsenal rescue a 2-2 draw against Standard Liege that proved enough to secure top spot in Europa League Group F.

A drab game ignited in the second half when Andrei Burca and Selim Amallah both scored with the aid of deflections for the home side.

Thankfully, Freddie Ljungberg’s youthful side regained composure and their late showing, coupled with Vitoria’s surprise win over Frankfurt, means we progress to the knockout stages.

First half

As expected, Freddie Ljungberg made a number of changes from the side that faced West Ham. A new-look three-man backline saw Dinos Mavropanos, making his European debut, join forces with David Luiz and Sokratis. Outside them, Bukayo Saka was asked to play left wing-back with Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the right. Academy trio Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock made up the midfield with Alex Lacazette captaining the side as the lone striker. 

Arsenal’s only real aim for the evening was to not concede five goals and, unsurprisingly, given the near dead-rubber status of the game, it proved not to be a thrill-fest in the opening 45 minutes. The home side probed here and there but for the most part, a couple of nervy attempts to play out from the back aside, we were comfortable. 

Emile Smith Rowe was a bright spark for the Gunners and he had our best chance, darting through the middle to collect a pass from Lacazette before arrowing a shot on the diagonal that keeper Bodart saved with his toes. 

Nelson and Saka also enjoyed themselves down the left. Our auxiliary wing-back tried his luck on three occasions. First Bodart came to the rescue with his feet again, a second effort went over and a third was parried before the rebound was played to Nelson whose header was tame. 

Other than Guendouzi playing the role of professional shit-stirrer, Luiz trying his luck from his own half, Lacazette clipping the heels of everyone in his path and one of the Standard Liege lads catching the ball in the middle of the pitch for no reason whatsoever, it was dull. 

Second half

Liege hadn’t really looked like scoring in the first half so it was typical that they took the lead inside two minutes of the restart via a pot shot that took a huge deflection. Bastien, under no pressure at all, tried his luck from 25-yards, it flicked off Sokratis’ arm, Martinez couldn’t change direction in time and the ball nestled in the back of the net. (1-0)

Things went back to being very boring for 20 minutes. And then we conceded another goal via a deflection. Classic. Apparently, you’re not allowed to score against us unless it comes off one of our players. On this occasion, Willock gave the ball away in our box and Amallah’s shot clipped Mavropanos’ arm before finding the corner. (2-0)

Ljungberg changed formation and sent on Martinelli and Chambers for Sokratis and Maitland-Niles and not long after Lacazette reduced the deficit to arrest any nerves of a monumental collapse. The Frenchman rose in the six-yard box to crash home a header from a superb Saka cross. (2-1)

Having looked dead and buried, we immediately went and grabbed an equaliser. Saka, a star of earlier games in this competition, played a one-two with Martinelli before tucking home with a curling effort from the edge of the box. It was a beautifully composed finish from the youngster. (2-2)

At the time of our leveller, we still needed a win to secure top spot in the group but then word made it from Germany that Frankfurt had suffered a collapse against Vitoria and our result didn’t matter. Well, not for us anyway. In the dying seconds Liege realised that if they hadn’t fluffed their lines, they’d have gone through too.

Tough tits for them. 

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Efeli
Efeli
5 months ago

Our performance wasn’t convincing at all, although Saka looks like a real gem. It’s crazy to imagine how far he and Martinelli can improve in 2-3 years, both seem to be generational talents. However…after 9 points in the first three games it should’ve been a walk in the park into the knockout phase as a no. 1 seed, yet we’ve only managed to get 2 points since then and were lucky to keep the top spot thanks to Vitoria’s late comeback against Franfurt. Freddie needs to get this team together real quick if he wants any chance to be considered… Read more »

Kran stoenke
Kran stoenke
5 months ago
Reply to  Efeli

The midfield is shambles. Xhaka the only midfielder who can play a fans have been marginalised by his own fans, and all the remaining options are confident runners of the ball, has and quality or the confidence to play the diagonal Ball to relieve pressure and stretch the game

Cyprus The Immortal Gooner
Cyprus The Immortal Gooner
5 months ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

Imagine our midfield state if Xhaka is our best midfielder!

SizC
SizC
5 months ago

Don’t imagine, just watch an Arsenal game!

GraeB
GraeB
5 months ago
Reply to  SizC

Xhaka, AMN, Luiz, Guen – all are too slow to cover, no positional sense, won’t tackle, duck away from shots and prefer to go sideways.

Martin
Martin
5 months ago
Reply to  GraeB

How can you say Xhaka goes sideways. With all his faults he still has one of the best forward passing range

"Thierry Bergkamp
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin

This comment shows how far the club has gone back, when Xhaka is your best passer.

Marco
5 months ago
Reply to  GraeB

Let’s face it some of these players are just not good enough.Nelson Willock AMN.When we all see what Martinelli brings to the table in the short time he has been at Arsenal there is no comparison.So unfortunately Nelson Willock andAMN must go into room 101.

Hiiiii guys
Hiiiii guys
5 months ago
Reply to  Marco

AMN Willock and Nelson are terrible. Gendouzi and Saka have lots of potential they need a run of games. Martinelli is the best of the bunch by far. In football it’s about the manager making the big decisions. E.g. willock AMN and Nelson would not start at any EPL team bar Arsenal. Get rid now.

Der Kaiser
Der Kaiser
5 months ago
Reply to  GraeB

AMN has pace.

Martin
Martin
5 months ago

He’s still our best passer.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

Watch Guen defending that second goal. If that had been Xhaka this forum would be full of comments such as: too slow, not interested, switched off, scared ecc. It’s getting ridiculous really.

Goonshow
Goonshow
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

100% – he’s a talent but needs a serious kick up the jacksie! He jogs back in no mans land – not tracking any runners, nor looking to pick up anyone. Literally just ambling back doing absolutely nothing! The lad has really lost the plot in recent games. However he is just one part of a greater malaise – that we allow teams to either waltz or pass right through 30-40 yards of our midfield in a few seconds. Their first goal is exactly the same. They pick up the loose ball just inside their half and then all the… Read more »

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  Goonshow

True about our mid. Lee Dixon on the Handbrake off pod made a great case for part of the fault resting on our forward line though. I tend to agree. How many times do those players lose the ball up front leaving us exposed and be like oh well… and they trot back. Then a couple of goals go in and it’s all forgotten.

Dave M
Dave M
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

I liken your love for xhaka to the British elections. Tories have been completely shite for ages while they have been in, and yet you’ll vote for them because you think the problem is the opposition guys that haven’t even been given a proper chance and a consistent run… Guess we get what we deserve.

"Thierry Bergkamp
5 months ago
Reply to  Goonshow

Teams have been playing through our team for the last 15 years, ever since Mourinho went to Chelsea and showed everybody that’s the way to beat Arsenal. It’s nothing new, just even easier to do it now

"Thierry Bergkamp
5 months ago
Reply to  Goonshow

Teams have been playing through our team for the last 15 years, ever since Mourinho went to Chelsea and showed everybody that’s the way to beat Arsenal. It’s nothing new, just even easier to do it now.

Mr. Gordon. Phillips
Mr. Gordon. Phillips
5 months ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

No we have Torreira. Guendouzi needs some time not as a first choice. He has ability but is still very young. It is a great job to get as we have real talent amongst the young players and in a few years we could be a team again.

SizC
SizC
5 months ago
Reply to  Efeli

Let’s be honest and put the dream to aside. I love Freddie but it’s not his time and Arsenal needs more.

Like footballers, I think the modern coach has his purple patch before fading ( naturally there are some exceptions. For example, Fergie, Lippi, Pep).

We need Poch or Nagelsmann or similar calibur.

Ultimately we need somebody otherwise this form can easily turn into a relegation battle.

And no I’m not being dramatic!

Martin
Martin
5 months ago
Reply to  SizC

Poch a serial loser and what exactly has Nagelsmann done to warrant being our coach.

SizC
SizC
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin

Who are you suggesting???

Ya gooner
Ya gooner
5 months ago

Deserved to win that one. Good performance but still some wrinkles to iron out

Bendtnerschristmastree
Bendtnerschristmastree
5 months ago
Reply to  Ya gooner

you’re kidding? that was awful

SizC
SizC
5 months ago

Arsenal defense (Hands of Greece) 2- 2 Arsenal attack.

Zeus and Poseidon with the goals for Standard.

Fatgooner
Fatgooner
5 months ago

Decent result but average performance. We made it hard for ourselves by not taking those chances in the first half. Then we conceded two rubbish goals. But a good comeback.

Group won, job done. Saka MOTM.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla
5 months ago
Reply to  Fatgooner

Both deflections in off an Arsenal arm, if you can call deliberately sticking your hand out to touch the ball a deflection. Mavropanos would have earned a card and given away a penalty if it hadn’t gone in anyway. Dopey sort of thing to do, but you do see that sort of thing quite often really. I guess a lot of footballers are just a little bit thick.

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla
5 months ago

OK, you guys win, It’s smart.

Crash Fistfight
Crash Fistfight
5 months ago

Either that, or the ball just hit both players’ hands for the goals. Where did you see a deliberate movement of his hand to the ball?

Martin
Martin
5 months ago

It was very unlucky. Totally accidental

Tony Hall
Tony Hall
5 months ago

Second goal, poor defending, first goal bit unlucky with a big deflection. Hauled it back though and topped group so can’t complain.

Martin
Martin
5 months ago
Reply to  Tony Hall

First goal was even more of a deflection than the second

Trigg27
Trigg27
5 months ago

Not the best performance overall.

Seems like this team can turn it on for 5 or 10 minutes each match. Let’s see if we can stretch that out to 15 next time out…

Kostas
Kostas
5 months ago
Reply to  Trigg27

Do you think is a fitness issue?
On our counters it was Laca and Rowe surrounded by 8 Liege players and on their counters they were cutting through our mid like butter..

Trigg27
Trigg27
5 months ago
Reply to  Kostas

I don’t think it’s fitness, but rather a confidence problem. Players are so worried about losing the ball and getting hit on the counter they look for the safe sideways or backwards pass and are reluctant to push forward when we do break.

Ironically all that does is invite pressure and make conceding more likely

Kran stoenke
Kran stoenke
5 months ago

This game really puts the xhaka torreira partnership to perspective. Willock and guendozi are no where near being starting 11 quality for a team like arsenal. A signing needs to be made so badly!
Also who would have thought saka scored with his weak foot there, what a peach

NMArsenal
NMArsenal
5 months ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

Joe Willock was very disappointing. He started the season pretty well then he started to become worse and worse. He is holding on the ball too much and losing possession too often. He needs to get back to basics.

At the moment Xhaka and Torreira is the best option for now. Even Guendouzi with all his running has been unconvincing. His problem is the quality of passing and bad decision with the ball.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  NMArsenal

Guen has always been the kind of player who runs sideways with the ball when a pass would cover that distance much more quickly. He’s young though and will surely improve.

Marco
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Absolutely correct.Untill he learns to move the ball quicker rather than having his usual 6 touches and falling over feigning injury.The incident this evening was embarrassing and it’s irritating to watch.

Dave M
Dave M
5 months ago
Reply to  NMArsenal

Look at the ball Willock played for the 1st goal. He’s young and learning the game. Sure he’s not going to be perfect, but you’re having a laugh if you think the answer is xhaka over either willock or guendouzi. Xhaka has proven that for 2.5 years now. Xhaka was horrible against west ham… That’s the problem martinelli, pepe and suba probably saved his spot in the team for another chance to spoil us with his superb mediocrity on the weekend. Xhaka get slated because he isn’t good enough for arsenal nor suited to the league, and our league position… Read more »

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  Dave M

Ok but if you want to look at facts, our form dropped dramatically since Guen was made a staple of our mid by Emery. His week in week out presence in midfield coincided with our worst run in years. I’m not saying I don’t like him but facts are facts, as you seem keen to point out.

Dave M
Dave M
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

2016/17 arsenal qualify for champs league (again). Summer 2017 arsenal sign xhaka. Xhaka becomes near first name on the sheet for the next 2.5 years. Arsenal have won nothing. Arsenal have not qualified for champs league. Arsenal now closer to relegation than champs league. Xhaka given away now penalties than any other midfielder in EPL history (in only 2.5 years). Xhaka top 5 in fouls in EPL since coming to arsenal. Xhaka top 5 in yellow since coming to arsenal.

Yeah let’s keep playing this guy… ?

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  Dave M

Oh so it’s Xhaka’s fault? Thought it was Wenger! No wait… Mustafi! Or was it Giroud? Look I get it you hate him. I’m just saying, don’t focus only on him. We have several problem and since taking Xhaka out of the team clearly didn’t solve them, maybe cut out the scapegoating until we can buy some better midfielders.

Shropshwire Lad
Shropshwire Lad
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Spot on.

Dave M
Dave M
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

I don’t hate him I just know he’s a VERY limited player and we aren’t moving forward with him as the focal point of our midfield… In fact we’re moving backwards. Problems with xhaka out of the team and torreira as attacking midfield… Of yeah I wonder why we still had problems then. But yeah let’s stick with he got who has been bang average for 2.5 heads over guys that Might be better if given the chance of a consistent run in the team. Given xhaka’s opportunities, I think any of them would eventually improve us

The Voice of the Noise
The Voice of the Noise
5 months ago

Saka, what a player we have on our hands! Great game from him.

Evaristus
Evaristus
5 months ago

Sigh* Arsenal will be the death of me

Tony Hall
Tony Hall
5 months ago

Oh and Guendouzi needs to cut out the play acting, not impressed!

YpsiGooner
YpsiGooner
5 months ago
Reply to  Tony Hall

Absolutely. There’s being a pain to play against and there’s being an ass. Guendouzi is fast approaching the latter.

Fireman Sam
Fireman Sam
5 months ago
Reply to  YpsiGooner

His hair is annoying too

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla
5 months ago

What was that bit in the commentary on the liveblog “Bottle throw at Chambers”? Did I miss something naughty there?

Kran stoenke
Kran stoenke
5 months ago

Chambers stalled the throw-in for an extra couple seconds around when frankfurt conceded a goal which gave liege a chance to qualify if they could find the winner. So someone threw a bottle at him

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla
5 months ago
Reply to  Kran stoenke

Charming

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts
5 months ago

Happened twice

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul Roberts

Hope they were empty plastic ones then. I’d hate to think the Belgians were throwing away perfectly good beer.

Kostas
Kostas
5 months ago

It was a match without a lot in stake but in stead of trying to build momentum we played as if all of our players smoked weed. Apart from Rowe Saka and Martinelli all the rest played below 5/10. Especially AMN who I highly rate didnt even sprint.

Our team is going through depression and I am too

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts
5 months ago
Reply to  Kostas

Work in progress mate…

Kroenke the Klown
Kroenke the Klown
5 months ago

The toughest of tits to them indeed.

Job done arsenal, now on to Manchester

btw
btw
5 months ago

Playing well for 15 minutes is an improvement over playing well for 0 minutes. Ya gunners ya!

Santori
Santori
5 months ago

Rather big gamble I dare say. In the end it paid off but only just. Still, relief we have another semi-positive to build on. Thought we were energetic pressing with the kids. They executed to plan. Some nervy moments at the back still, Mavropanos passing/clearing to the middle and their player early on (why can’t we stop this practise? Gaffer should fine them) They got two deserved goals from trying their luck around our box and we were a tad bit unlucky with deflections. Their captain was excellent and I thought MOTM. But our main chap was Saka. Push forward… Read more »

Fireman Sam
Fireman Sam
5 months ago

Just watch Martinelli’s movement for our second goal. Awesome. That’s the energy we need in our team. Some confidence, quick feet and quick thinking.

Badaab
Badaab
5 months ago

Its time we did some drills in training where the players learn to block the ball as it comes into the box- be that a cross or a shot from distance. Its something Emery never seemed to care about, but its clearly something that is hurting us.

Almunia4Pires
Almunia4Pires
5 months ago

What has happened to The Arsenal? These youngsters, given a chance to impress for a first team spot, looked lethargic, energy-less, disinterested and to put it mildly, clueless. OK we can blame Emery, Wenger or whoever but this is down to mentality. These kids (bar Martinelli) do not have neither the attitude nor the hunger for the game. Saka’s 5 minute impressive burst (an assist and a goal) cannot compensate for the general picture.