Arsenal’s Europa League future was never really in doubt, but for a time it looked as if we might finish 2nd in the group – thus making the first knock-out round more difficult.

But then an assist and a goal from Bukayo Saka drew us level with Standard Liege, and when Vitoria beat Frankfurt in the other game, one of the greatest nights in our European history was confirmed as are GROUP F CHAMPIONS, OLE OLE OLE!

Read the Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal report and see the goals here.

Here’s how the players rated today.

Ratings

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Jim
Jim

I love him but Freddie showed his inexperience tonight with the team selection and influence thought the game! But I do love him!!!

Berlingoon
Berlingoon

I thought it was a brave move to bring on Martinelli for Sokratis at 2-0 down when Emery would probably have brought on another defender to avoid conceding 5.
Line up was common sense when you consider who we’re playing on Sunday and the subs did fine. Don’t know what you’re talking about to be honest.

SantaClausola
SantaClausola

No idea what line up you were expecting Jim….full first team that played Monday, Thursday and Sunday vs City? AMN has picked up an injury when we have a depleted squad already so we needed a team out that would avoid a 5-0 defeat, we achieved that.

Espen
Espen

Yeah. Freddy went with the youngsters. That’s good squad rotation. But some people probably expect the first team in every game, just to blame the coach when players are injured.

GraeB
GraeB

I thought lineup looked good despite being forced into 3 at the back by lack of full backs. That view was tempered by knowing just how we are apt to defend.

Opponents allowed too much space to shoot, poor level of tackling, shying away from shots and being slow to get back or take sensible defensive positions.

A normal day at the office in defence!

roastimbou27
roastimbou27

I’ve got to say, Guendouzi just isn’t very good. Rates himself and gives a lot of attitude but couldn’t influence a game against standard Liege, who were quite simply dreadful when they came to the emirates.

His main attribute is looking busy.

Martinelli is the one common denominator in our best displays this season- because he works his socks off. Other players would do well to follow his example.

Ellis Mcpickle
Ellis Mcpickle

I remember Guendouzi’s work rate drawing praise when he first came through too. Young players will have their up and downs, no need to make a fuss either way. Getting a bit worried about Reiss Nelson though.

Crash Fistfight
Crash Fistfight

I thought Nelson and Smith-Rowe were the only players that looked like making anything happen in the first half. Saka did brilliantly for the two goals but I thought Smith-Rowe was our best player.

Mpls
Mpls

Saka was the player making the ‘decisive’ moments of danger happen. I thought Smith Rowe was pretty solid, and direct. Riess Nelson was active, but as a more supporting role.

I was wanting a bit better possession and better game pace management, but I guess this was to be expected given the number of younger players out there.

Expected a little more from Guendouzi and Willock to be honest.

SLC Gooner
SLC Gooner

Guendouzi has potential. But he’s lately looked like what he is… a young player being asked to take on too much responsibility. Not many can do that in central midfield at the PL level. Having him in the Europa and Cup matches is probably about right.

db10s

Yes but also I am wondering where is the coaching? Or is the coaching not working.

Guendouzi has bags of strong points to his game but they are so rarely applied on the pitch. Lately it looks like he’s been playing on auto pilot. Maybe a big breather is needed and let him sit out for another 2 weeks or so.

CountLeaf
CountLeaf

oh we are so fucking fickle.

that the same Guen who everyone was raving about a month or so ago? the guy from golden boy shortlist?

can’t fucking wait Martinelli is being treated the same way in two months time.

they’re kids, they’ll look like world beaters in fall and like amateurs in spring. that’s cause they’re kids.

there’s things to criticise, then there are just things not to.

Tim
Tim

The problem with kids is when a manager suddenly becomes convinced you are a PL starter at 20 and you start to believe it, too. That’s what happened with Guen. He should be at a stage of his career when he is over the moon to get the opportunity to play, instead he was pissed off when subbed in his last start in the PL. We already know he thinks very highly of himself… but that isn’t helping him. Let’s hope Freddie brings him back to earth and he gets the opportunity to develop as a young player should.

Dave M
Dave M

Bit like xhaka at 26 he’s now had 3 arsenal managers convince him he’s a starter and they’ve all been wrong.

Tim
Tim

Actually not at all like it. Two completely different things.

Martin
Martin

Don’t forget the Swiss manager too

Dave M
Dave M

I work and travel to Switzerland a lot and have a lot of football mates from there. I haven’t spoken to one person that thinks Xhaka is good. Even to the point one told me two days ago he’s glad he doesn’t play for his team as his attitude is pathetic…his team is Bern Young Boys. Their fans don’t even want him.

Tim
Tim

Come on man… Again, it’s fine that you hate him, but don’t try to act as if the whole of Switzerland were on your side just because your “mate” thinks he’s not good enough for YB (also you should know GX was a Basel player and there is no love lost between Basel and YB – being that you’re practically Swiss you SHOULD know that, right?)

Drew
Drew

Yep, you’re right and 3 very experienced managers and one fully qualified coach are all wrong. Obviously.

Tay
Tay

Chill with the judgement. “He was pissed when subbed off” – do you want players to be happy when they are subbed off?
Regardless of age it i a natural reaction for being subbed off when you also are a player that has started several games.

Stop thinking young players need to be good little boys who should be happy that thye are there.

Tim
Tim

You’re right. Being pissed off is OK. Walking off the pitch when there is a game to be won is less ok, as the Xhaka situation proved. So just as I don’t like Xhaka walking off instead of sprinting, I don’t like when Guendouzi does it.

Espen
Espen

Thank you CountLeaf for posting some common sense.

HamiltonGunner

Honestly I have never rated him and didn’t understand what everyone was making a fuss about.

He runs and looks busy That’s about the only positive I give him.

If he knocked off the petulant displays, terrible diving, yelling and screaming when he gets tackled or when things don’t go his way there might actually be a decent player in there.

Although we would then be back at the same point where he pretty much runs around and looks busy.

goonero
goonero

Harsh but true for me. He doesn’t excel in any area of the game, and other than his stamina he is physically unremarkable, not quick, not strong, just there. In many ways he’s Elneny but younger, so there’s this vague hope/expectation he’ll get better but, football doesn’t really work that way.

Mpls
Mpls

He’ll get better if he’s coached to get better and given the right things to work on. For instance he definitely needs to work on his positional sense, defensive concentration and tracking, and improving his passing / turnovers. He’s not the only gunner that seems to need this, but him especially.

Some are definitely things that come with experience. Managing game pace being another one.

db10s

Totally agree. The raw ingredients are well above average. The coaching team just needs to refine his qualities and apply them effectively on the pitch. What worries me now is that he looks abit burnout.

Badaab
Badaab

I still don’t think anyone at Arsenal has coached Guendouzi on what position/role he is expected to fulfill in our team. Right now, he is full of enthusiasm and energy, but no direction- and when you play like that in the middle of the park, your mistakes will be amplified as you accumulate more touches in troublesome situations and under pressure (also you can be fouled/commit more fouls in midfield).
The problem now is that our midfield is a joke with the lack of available players and a complete lack of system to use the few decent and experienced players we have.
In my humble opinion, I would like to see Guendouzi deployed further forward rather than asking him to play as a holding player- he doesn’t have the positional discipline for that role yet.

Proud Arse
Proud Arse

That’s why you don’t win with kids.

We still need our backbone with the experience quality players for CB and DM.

Tay
Tay

It’s funny how people forget Guendouzi is 20 years old and instead he’s being judged as a senior player.
If you see it like that he is our best young player since he is the only one that has fully made it into the team(Martinelli seems like the next one)

HNelson
HNelson

We look better than we did under Unai. Credit where it’s due to Freddie, the attack looks much more fluid. If only we could cut out the silly mistakes and work on our shape without the ball.

TheArseman
TheArseman

Well looks like Mavropanos has been at defence training with the rest of our mob ?

Comedian
Comedian

I rate ESR very highly, for me he is best of the talents we have in our squad. After seeing Guendouzi and Maitland Niles becoming kind of clueless with what they are suppose to do, relieved that Saka, Martinelli and ESR are just about to be introduced in the first team. I think Ljunberg should take the advantage he has with the young players (who know what he expects of them ) and start playing them more often. He needs to be a bit selfish and smart on how we wishes to get his system in place. We have seen games in the Europa league at the start where all these young players thrived because they would choose to play how they were taught in the academy and while playing in the reserves. A lot of players in the first team are still carrying side effects of being coached poorly. Hope Freddie starts choosing players according to his will and develops an understanding with the first team in quick time.

Pepe's left foot
Pepe's left foot

We were quite piss poor but still go though top; so not a bad day in the office. Saka and Smith Rowe are both generally good talents that we can be happy about. People can comment about Freddy as much as they want but I feel we are finally in a good place. He knows the players and they are responding. Give him the chance to the end of the season and then lets decide. I don’t think we should fuck up as fans and must get behind an unbeatable. FREDDY FREDDY

Sideways and backwards
Sideways and backwards

It’s all so frustrating, such pathetic quality of football overall, no structure, no ability on the ball by either the defence or the goalkeeper yet an unfathomable insistence on building up from the back! Noone connecting the defence to the midfield, just directionless passing sideways and backwards. Please, someone bring my Arsenal back!

Naked Cygan
Naked Cygan

I honestly don’t think any manager can make our defense better. We just have a bunch of low confidence, weak, scared, soft, and a confused bunch of defenders. The best thing to do is start fresh with a brand new back 4. At this point, I would take any back 4 in the premier league over our back 4.

To make things worse, our central midfielders are bang average and don’t really protect our defence, or create a fluid movement going forward. Xhaka has to go after his display and disastrous passing against West Ham. Guendouzi is an a great young player, but still has a lot to learn and make us a top 4 team, and Torreira is just low on confidence.

God help us…..38 POINTS…38 POINTS….. 38 POINTS

Tim
Tim

But watch that West Ham game again… I know our forward line came good eventually but their attitude whenever they lost the ball was shocking all game long. That is also part of our problems and hopefully Freddie will address it.

Rich
Rich

Quality left sided forwards are like buses…..

It’s been a real shame we’ve not been able to get Bellerin and Tierney fit and up to speed, because we have wide forward with big potential this season.

Last season we lacked width, ball carriers, and dribblers in the wide positions, we look well stacked there now, Nelson could do with a loan and regular football, but I think if we manage him well? he’ll come good
And Saka, Pepe and Martinelli all have fantastic end products, even if they’re a little raw.

Dreading Sunday…..

JoolzyBergkamp
JoolzyBergkamp

Luiz distributes better than any in the back line but he’s still quite woeful at defending. Maybe partner him with Torreira as DM? Give Xhaka and Guendouzi a break?

Santori
Santori

I have to be generous because I wasn’t expecting too much given line up.

Very risky choices but somewhat negated by decision at least to have some caution and run 3 at the back which is kudos to the gaffer.

In the end, I thought at least, the young guns green around the edges but they put in the effort :

1) Martinez – Several uncharacteristic ‘adventurous’ moments…one risky pass and the other taking too long on the ball. Unlucky for deflected goal (s).

2) AMN – Again one or two poor moments but generally OK tracking their runners. His strength is his athleticism, great recovery rate which he tends to rely on too much but defo an asset. Just has to keep up the focus.

3) Mavropanos – Good to see him (finally) available. NO Master class. Some poor judgements like the pass early in first half to their forwards. Height an asset with a number of headed clearances. Again lest some people prefer to imagie otherwise, potential but learning curve.

4) Luiz – Nothing glaringly too wrong today, he’s more solid in a back 3 sweeping. But we were carrying a lot of inexperience today. Don’t think the cbacks did anything glaringly wrong.

5) Sokratis – One nervy moment too but generally kept left side locked up behind the less experienced but ever willing Saka. Understandably saved for weekend.

6) Guendouzi – I thought he put in a good shift today considering he is barely older than any of the other young players. He grabbed senior responsibility and called for the ball. Could have maybe been better for the second goal but those things happen if we drop our level which we did start of second half. But he tried to drive us forward always and generally was in the wars for us.

7) Willock – Ditto Willock. Good energy to compete for 50-50s. Real box to box for him with Guendouzi (likely) told to be a bit more conservative.Thing about these younger players is at least they try and exceute the boss’s orders for him.

8) Smith-Rowe – Some good moments first half. Did the correct thing when driving forward on the right in cutting infield and allowing AMN to overlap create width. Sometimes went diagonal all the way to the left which gave us a bit more unpredictabiltiy. Put in a good shift and great to see for a talented player feeling his way back in.

9) Nelson – Another player feeling his way back into first team. Also a decent shift particularly when on the left in which he weighted a number of good balls to set up Saka. Thought the front line did a good job harrying and putting pressure on their back line then got back quickly when press was overcome. Something for our older frontmen in Pepe, Auba and Ozil to take note IMO.

10) Laca – Just love the guy for his work rate. Came back to try and win the ball, was instructing the younger players where to stand. He’s just excellent for us. May not score as much as Auba but overall game much better. Good header for the goal. It can be that simple if we don’t try to over complicate it.

11) Saka -Our left wing back but probably our best attacker. I want to say next to their captain the excellent and underated Mpoku, who was easily MOTM, Saka was a close second.

Several excellent chances taken on goal by Saka first and second half before delivery for Laca’s goal then took it on his own to grab the equalizer. BUT did not neglect his duty tracking back and being competitive in an unfamiliar role either.

As I said, something for more senior players like Pepe, Auba and Ozil to take note.

Silver lining for me in particular with Iwobi gone. felt we made a poor choice to let him go a season too soon. We are dependent on too many factors out wide – Pepe to kick into sustained gear, Saka, nelson, Martinelli all younger players who will have a learning curve ahead. But on evidence, we have some talents to nurture and a good project for an ambitious manager who has affinity for development like Erick Ten Hag perhaps at Ajax..

12) Martinelli – Good control on the ball, brought a bit more urgency for us.

13) Chambers – No nonsense brought in for decision making. Decent enough even if they were always dangerous down that flank.

14) Auba – Did not even notice he was on.

Overall : Bit of a gamble today. A bit too much youth but Freddy also has to contend with injuries and the big game coming up. Plenty of positives from our younger players. I felt they did not let him down at very least in executing to plan and really hunting down the ball as a unit. Lots of inexperience too but the effort was key.

Pépé Le Pew
Pépé Le Pew

Double standard. PEA never influences games but scores and it is fine but not for Laca? H e has to grab the ball from midfield dribble past 3 players and score!

Avo1
Avo1

Couldn’t have said it better

Matic Hribernik
Matic Hribernik

Because Auba scores 30 goals per season and Laca does not.

Trigg27
Trigg27

Mavropanos gets a bit of a pass from me. He didn’t play well, but he hasn’t exactly had much of a chance to get match fit

I can’t help wondering how much of our poor performance was down to the state of that pitch. There’s league 1 sides that would be ashamed to play on that

nosferatu
nosferatu

I feel like this squad needs psychoanalysis or counseling more than coaching–Emery seems to have really done some damage to their individual and collective approaches to playing, particularly in transition and attacking. There’s so much fear, hesitation, reluctance to try anything (something we definitely didn’t see in the early games of the Europa League, but we’ve seen grow both there and throughout the league this season and last, particularly when Ramsey wasn’t there to push them forward in transition).

When they finally let the handbrake off, you might say, and actually show the confidence to dribble forward into space, or try some through-ball passes, or switch possession, the predictability of the Arsenal attack is finally relieved and there’s potential to break down these defenses that think they know what’s coming (because it’s been the same damn thing for so long now). That’s the main lesson I took from Monday’s game, and I hope that’s something Freddie can use to start to bring more of this positivity out of these players going forward. But god, what a challenge he has on his hands to break them free of the shackles Emery programmed into their heads.

The Arsenal
The Arsenal

Luiz is the problem. He just does not want to defend as a cb. His lack of effort is something to behold. I think it’s worth a try with him deployed in Xhaxas role with Torreira alongside him

Badaab
Badaab

Nelson really needs some more time in the u23s or a loan in January, as does Mavropanos… both looked off the pace and were sloppy in possession/passing. ESR looked lively even though he’s been out.

NigelTufnel
NigelTufnel

There were a few low-bar objectives for this match.
Let the kids play.
Pick up a point.
If you can’t pick up a point, don’t lose 9-0.
Avoid any more injuries.

To that, I say “Great success!”

s6boy
s6boy

i give Keown 10 for shutting those twats at BT up kept on about him being late until he said i didn’t want to say this but some poor soul threw himself under a train .They was like err err err like a bus backing out of a station pair of pricks