Report: Arsenal 4-1 Molde (inc. goals)

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Result: Arsenal 4-1 Molde
Competition: Europa League
Date: 5 November 2020
Venue: Emirates Stadium

Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac, Willian, Xhaka, Ceballos, Pepe, Willock, Nketiah

Subs: Runarsson, Macey, Bellerin, Tierney, Gabriel, Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Holding, Partey, Cedric, Elneny


Arsenal are well-placed to qualify early from Europa League Group B after coming from to beat Norwegian side Molde 4-1 at the Emirates. 

The visitors took the lead against the run of play through Martin Ellingsen’s well-taken effort but two own goals by the visitors either side of the break put the Gunners back in charge. 

As Molde tired, Nicolas Pepe and Joe Willock added a gloss to proceedings with decisive finishes having both squandered earlier opportunities. 

Pre-game

Mikel Arteta made a raft of changes from the side that beat Manchester United at the weekend. Bernd Leno and Willian were the only players to retain their place. Amongst the nine changes, David Luiz returned from injury to partner Shkodran Mustafi, Xhaka and Ceballos partnered up in midfield and Pepe, Willock and Nketiah made up our attacking threat. Reiss Nelson, who impressed last week against Dundalk, missed out with a minor knee problem. The big guns made up the bench. 

First Half

Much like last week’s clash against Dundalk, this was not exactly a pulsating affair. The visitors set up with a low block and were happy to cede control of possession for long periods. 

To be fair, Arsenal started quite brightly. On 3 minutes Willock flashed a ball to the near post looking for Nketiah who couldn’t connect and two minutes later, the striker, found by Pepe, tried a dinked effort that cleared the Molde keeper but was heading wide before a defender made sure by clearing for a corner. 

Having weathered that early storm, the visitors were relatively comfortable. The Gunners passing lacked zip and accuracy and first touches went awry just enough for Norwegian legs to give us a kick and force us back. It was really quite boring. 

To spice things up, Molde took an unexpected lead. Seemingly bored of playing triangles with his defenders in his own box, Leno hoofed a ball up towards Nketiah and probably expected it would stay there. Inside 10 second he was picking it out of his net. After winning the initial header, Molde played a quick pass to wide player Ellingsen, who, just outside the box, set himself and curled home a very tidy left foot effort. (0-1)

The German looked suitably pissed off. Arteta, wearing an incredibly shiny puffer jacket, likewise. In the ensuing minutes, the Spaniard could be heard screaming at his players to press high. 

Ceballos started to pull the strings. First finding Willian down the left with a smart pass – the Brazilian’s cutback was blocked – and then nearly finding Pepe with a penetrating ball through the middle of the Molde defence. 

A couple of minutes before the break, we thought we had our equaliser. Patient build up saw us work an opening for Pepe, who from the left, played a teasing ball across the six-yard box where Nketiah, in front of Willock, bundled the ball home. Unfortunately, the flag had gone up for offside. The goal should have stood – Nketiah was onside – but there was no VAR to check. 

Thankfully, it didn’t matter. In stoppage time, a slick counter-attack ended with Kristoffer Haugen bundling into his own net. Pepe had done well to pounce on a loose corner by Molde and Willian, Xhaka and Nketiah combined to work the ball down the pitch with five passes. (1-1)

Second half

Keep wide and stretch the play was the message from the dugout at the start of the second period. You could tell we’d also been asked to play quicker. 

The passing was better, we made more one-touch combinations, teased Molde in and around their box, but an end product was lacking. When we did create a clear cut chance on 54 minutes, Kolasinac made a total mess of things; blazing over from a couple of yards after the Molde keeper had made a hash trying to collect a Willock cross. 

On the plus side, Molde decided that if we couldn’t score, they’d do it for us. Having already put through their net once, substitute Sheriff Sinyan repeated the trick on 62 minutes, slicing in a Willock cross after the England under-21 international had latched onto a dinked pass by Xhaka. It was comical defending. (2-1)

Pepe took matters into his own hands after that. First, he met a Kolasinac cross on the volley that was easily saved and then he tried a long-range curler. At the third time of asking, he finally made an effort count. Saka, on as a sub, pulled back to the Ivorian, who connected sweetly on the run from the edge of the box. (3-1)

There were chances to further extend our lead. Keeper Linde denied Willock with his legs, Nketiah’s diving header went wide and Saka, who was offside, deflected a Cedric cross onto the post. Our number 7 missed another chance, again with the flag up, as he made himself busy off the left flank. 

There was a scare at the other end when Leke James, via a Luiz deflection, hit the side netting but we responded quickly. Willock, who’d gone close moments before, smashed home after latching onto Pepe’s pass. (4-1) 

All in all, a decent night’s work after a slow start. To be honest, against this calibre of opposition, you’d expect nothing less.

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Justno

Was it just me or was this ref quite bad throughout…

Naked Cygan

At least he game us a foul.

Jackstoneygunner

WASNT just you, I thought he had an agenda tonight to cause an upset but it backfired on him. I felt like he wanted Molde to win from the first whistle or maybe he was trying to make a ststement although not sure what statement exactly because he was quite poor

AussieGooner

He was Turkish….

Hank Scorpio

Good win. Another great performance by Willock. Gotta love Pepe. A largely putrid performance capped by a sweet finish for the goal and great assist. I’ve already started the mental countdown until Willian leaves. He’s been a terrible signing.

Johnny 4 Hats

To be fair, the match report for all these games could be exactly the same.

Not a vintage performance, lacked fluidity due to all the changes in personnel but we eventually won comfortably.

We march on! COYG!!

Johnny 4 Hats

The thing about Willian is that he doesn’t seem to have that new signing pressure. And he plays like it. At one stage the commentator said, “Still hasn’t scored for Arsenal but he won’t be too worried”. And he clearly isn’t. If he cost £30m (his contract is worth £30m) then everyone would be scrutinising him and he’d have a point to prove. Maybe it’s because he’s been in the Prem for ages and the move was kind of low-key given the Partey / Aouar circus but he’s just casually turned up and everyone expects he’ll do fine. But he’s… Read more »

Jack

Totally agree. He’s not playing great and it doesn’t seem to bother him

Hank Scorpio

Hopefully he produces something soon. Early signs from an experienced premier league player are not good

Alex

We don’t say the “O” word anymore, please…..

Jht

His job is to score and assist. Thata what hw did at Lille, he wasnt a fricking dmc or inside cutting ray parlour. Cut him some slack mate.

Tomaury Bischfeld

Pepe has a wicked finish, occasionally will produce a good pass, now and then beat a player. But from what I’ve seen a lot of the time in the build up he’s a load of cack and I fear that won’t change.

Harry Sunderland

My thoughts exactly. in general play he looks so disinterested and clumsy. but if a ball drops to his left in or around the box, it’s probably gonna be a goal

Alex

Once again a tremendous game by Borges. Chelsea didn’t want to prolong him, Borges wanted to stay in London, his agent found a good pigeon to welcome him (Gaspar & friends) and bingo. Some fans will say : “He is free”, yes, Chelsea got nothing, but he costs £220 000 per week and got a surely high bonus to sign the contract (along with his agent: an agent doesn’t work for free especially when he is labelled to be “super”). The One We Don’t Talk About was very likely put out for football reason to let this guy play.

Martin

Pepe was excellent as well as his goal. Can’t think what game you watched

Drogheda Gunner

Are you been serious, pepe was absolutely terrible. Don rual must have made about 35m off that transfer. Willian is doing OK and I thought when he switched to the right he looked much better.

nikoniko

we win. We top the group. who can argue against that?

anonarse

Trump could argue against that!

Anonymarse

Boo

Richard

But he would argue against the sky being blue, so…

Homer

Yeah, because he’s a horse’s arse, which i think is yer point.
But let’s keep stupid USA politics out of the arseblog, eh?

Cheers.

anonarse

Yeah, was a stupid joke.

Cheers.

Jack

I bet every Arsenal fan celebrated the most for Joe’s goal tonight. So so deserved, the guy was involved in everything going forward and topped it off with the best goal of the evening.

Anonymarse

Starting to look very impressive

Carlos

Exactly what happened! The first 3 I gave a small woop or fist pump. For Joe’s I screamed “YEEEESSS JOE!” So incredibly well deserved, was so happy for the guy.

bobbyp

Pleased to have won. Willock was good again. Saka motm for me.

Johnny 4 Hats

What, for his 25min contribution?

bobbyp

What’s that got to do with it? If a player came on for five minutes and scored a hat trick to win the game would he not get motm?

Johnny 4 Hats

Yeah ok mate.

Just concentrate on the game next time. I know it’s only the group stages but you can at least check the starting lineups.

Daveo

Don’t agree with him, but bollocks comment – he can have his say, why not? Willock MOTM for mine, but Saka changed the game for sure. Great game from him.

Johnny 4 Hats

Fair enough. Elneny defo my MOTM. Didn’t put a foot wrong.

A Different George

Auba never tracked back. Lazy performance.

Jack

He shouldn’t, no

Fatgooner

A very good night’s work. We’ve nearly qualified.

Is Joe Willock an “internal solution”?

Goonstein

Fatgooner, is that you? Why so positive?

Fatgooner

I could slag off Willian, and Pepe was awful again, but after a 4-1 win that would be churlish.

Paul Roberts

Fats, pass me the baton on Pepe and Willian please?? 🙂

Fatgooner

Okay, go on!

Paul Roberts

Pepe is perfect for a counter attacking team. That’s not us these days. Willian is coasting towards the end badly.

Daveo

Fats definitely passed you a foam baton.

GoonerBot

Why are you hacking Fat’s account??

Goonstein

It took them some time to get into the game. Although the scorline might be a bit flattering, it was a well-deserved win in the end. And what about Elneny, this guy seems to be the creative mastermind we’ve been missing. Hehe. Those two passes were just superb.

Johnny 4 Hats

It’s funny how you don’t realise what an average midfield looks like until you see a really good one…

I felt so underwhelmed watching Ceballos and Xhaka tonight. And less than a month ago I was thinking they could be a really good pairing.

Daveo

ceballos was superb tonight…wait for the stats, you’ll see. Xhaka, less so. Just way too slow and WAY too one-footed. However, Mo was oustanding. What an influential cameo. I’d love to see a 4-3-3 with Willock as #10 (superb also tonight) and Saka-Auba-Pepe front three. Pepe still needs to improve (usual dose of magic and rubbish mashed into one), but I feel giving him some games in the EPL to show belief will help. Just having willock in the hole frees a lot of space for Pepe to cut inside by forcing defenders to cover Willock, and his runs…oooofff. He… Read more »

Justno

Ceballos, superb and Xhaka not so much? What match did you watch?

At least Xhaka was heavily involved in goal 1 and 2 for arsenal. All Ceballos does is receive the ball twist left and right, hold on to it for too long and pass back.

Neither was great, but Ceballos offered nothing going forward for 90minutes.

Daveo

It took just under a half of football for Molde to work out Xhaka, as soon as they started showing him right his passing influence was nullified. Just wait for by the visuals on this one and you will see Ceballos’ influence.

That Pires Tackle

Willock so impressive that I dare say he deserves a start instead of Laca as a (false) 9. In this system as the tactics column showed, Laca is asked to be great at cutting off passing lanes and harrowing. Willock is absolutely the best on the squad at this. And, with a sight of goal, I am not convinced his close control and shooting wouldn’t net more xG and actual goals than Lacazette. Any others think he is worth a shout against Villa?

Thierry Bergkamp

That partnership never convinced me, and a partnership that has Xhaka in it never will.

Naked Cygan

I hope Arteta is taking notes. We need one player evert game like Willock to make runs into the box in every possible attack. Great win!!

Oregoon

Sorry forbidden. No running in the box by midfielders during PL games.

Jackie

Pepe >> Willian

Arteta 🙄

Christian W

Matinelli

Jackie

Unavailable. Pepe is available. We never should have recruited Willian. Especially not for the contract he’s on

Richard

We can thank Raúl for that. Thankfully he’s gone, but it should be him paying Willian’s wages.

MeSoHornsey

Both been disappointing. I thought Pepe was awful today. Willian just looks disinterested. Can’t wait for Martinelli to return. And need to give Reiss a run can’t see him doing worse.

NMArsenal

Reiss was unfit and Willian has last minute change.

Chippy Brady

Willian on 250 grand a week for 3 years looks like abysmal business. There’s definitely a player in there somewhere with Pepe though. His finishing is sexy.

Alex

Borges has signed for 4 years.

TheUpbeatGunner

I’ve decided to pretend that Pepe only cost half of what he actually cost. If I think of him as a 36m signing, I’m pretty ok with him. Not thrilled, but he’s not a disaster.

Decent game in the end. Most of the goals on both sides came from counter-pressing situations.
Nice to see Willock on the scoresheet again.

I hope Pepe will start celebrating his goals soon. Have we seen him smile when he’s scored? It gives the impression he’s not happy.

Nice to hear the opinions of Keown and Hargreaves. It makes a diffrrence when the pundits aren’t full of themselves, doesn’t it Roy!

Give youth a chance

The slow steady improvement of Pepe continues. Still far from the player we thought we were getting but the signs are that he’s in there trying to break out

Daveo

Yes and no. Let’s not kid ourselves he was awful apart from the goal. I like Pepe, but he has to improve. Seems to be almost trying too hard to score. Seems like a guy that needs a shot of belief from the manager – maybe a couple starts in the EPL are the shot in the arm he needs. There is a player in there…challenge is to get the most out of him.

Runzac

Agree. He will be great after a season or two. Let’s forget about the price tag

That Pires Tackle

Agreed. As Elliott YankeeGunner said, sometimes you get a player who tries many things that dont come off and when they do, you get a magical moment. Pepe had one goal and an assist and maybe helped with one of the OGs. Happily take that kind of contribution. And yes, Pepe >> W

John

Apart from Leno and Willock our starting XI tonight was basically all our currently out of form players – and we still managed to thrash Molde 4-1. How poor the standard is in the Europa League. Credit to the lads though, a comfortable win in the end.

John

Nelson not even on the bench, he must be thinking his time is up at Arsenal.

Vonnie

He’s injured.

Niobe

Had a knock apparently

Give youth a chance

Or he’s being saved for a sub appearance at the weekend

Safe Hands

It increasingly feels to me like we are putting the building blocks in place for something special, and that we’re not far from being back where we belong (always challenging for the league and always being in latter stages of the CL). The bonus of the EL over the CL is that it is easier to blood young players and still win games. For players like Nketiah, Willock etc, the Sept-Jan part of the season will at least include 8-10 first team games (including league cup). That’s really good for their development. I think Willock is now making it very… Read more »

gminorcoles

i think we are about 5 or 6 really good players from there, but we are looking better.

Grymelock

It says alot about this competition that when they scored I really didn’t couldn’t give a shit. This competition is purely fun exhibition matches for me that are also an opportunity to see what the fringe players are actually about. I feel that the end scoreline was really harsh on Molde, they gave us a good game. Joe Willock looks better in every game, he’s gotta be smashing down the door if we move to a back 4 full time. Willian is steadily shaping up to be the worst signing we’ve made in some time. Ceballos is really quite good… Read more »

Paul Roberts

Our second string won easily so that’s good. Our first team would have beaten that lot 7 – 0?? COYG!

Jace

Ceballos should be starting games please..
We really need unpredictability from the middle…. nd if arteta could see it .
He’s our most creative midfielder..
His ability to dribble through pressure is brilliant too

Jace

It’s easy to slag Pepe isn’t it…
Yeah he does make wrong decision at times… But u have to be honest that teams give him a special attention ..
He’s most times facing two or 3…
Look how he plays wen he has freedom..
Look at the last 30 mins for instance wen were fully attacking..
He was very much superb … Than hugging the touch line..
Staying too wide was never his game..
Nd should be starting every game pls..
Not sure wat arteta sees differently in willian….

Paul Roberts

Pepe does the hard things well and the rest badly at the moment. He may start on Sunday however, as Willian is another talking point! Willock must be feeling great at the moment.

Oregoon

Pepe seems more energized when he has time and space. I fear he will never be someone like Sane or Mahrez that could make something happen one on one against most defenders. Believe he shows his best in more of a transition game and doesn’t provide a real spark against the low block. Maybe that will come.

Goodly morning

OG was good tonight… I’ll get my coat.