Report: Molde 0-3 Arsenal (inc. goals)

83

Result: Molde 0-3 Arsenal
Competition: Europa League
Date: 26 November 2020
Venue: Aker Stadium

Arsenal: Runarsson, Cedric, Mustafi, Luiz, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Xhaka, Nelson, Pepe, Nketiah, Lacazette.

Subs: Macey, Hein, Bellerin, Tierney, Ceballos, Holding, Smith Rowe, Balogun, Azeez, Cottrell


Arsenal secured qualification to the Europa League knockout stages thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win over Molde in Norway. 

Nicolas Pepe and Reiss Nelson did the damage with goals just after the break and 19-year-old Folarin Balogun put a gloss on proceedings late on. 

Qualifying with two group games remaining will come as a big relief to Mikel Arteta whose side face nine games in a ridiculously hectic December schedule.

Pre-game

Mikel Arteta included eight Hale End graduates in his 23-man matchday squad. It was an even split between who started – Maitland-Niles, Willock, Nelson and Nketiah – and who bided their time on the bench – Smith Rowe, Balogun, Azeez, Cottrell. As expected, with a three-game domestic ban hanging over him, Nicolas Pepe got a start despite his red card at the weekend. Experience came in the form of Mustafi, Cedric, Luiz, Xhaka and Lacazette.

First Half

Both sides had chances in an end-to-end first 45 minutes that Arsenal controlled for large periods. Molde will have been pleased with their performance though, stretching us on the break and generally looking more familiar with the pace of the artificial pitch.

The home side had the best chance of the half. After working an opening behind Cedric, a cross was flashed across the six-yard box where defender Sinyan, up for a corner that had been cleared, lunged for a tap in. While he made decent contact with the ball, he could only direct it back to Runarsson who’d been left stranded. The Icelander did just about enough not to fumble the effort, which was going wide, into his own net.

Set-up with a four at the back and Xhaka and Willock anchoring the midfield, the Gunners did their best to work the flanks whenever possible. On the right, Pepe was full of running and an eagerness to make something happen. Having squandered a half volley attempt on 12 minutes he came close again on 17 with one of his trademark left foot curlers. It went just wide.

On the right, Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who constantly overlapped were also bright. The letter forced a save from keeper Linde inside 2 minutes and the former took up the mantle, testing the Swedish stopped down low at his near post on 13 minutes. Nelson later tried a curler that went wide and also came close to an assist for Nketiah with a fine cross that Sinyan did well to clear.

Despite a few bright moments, we still looked very clunky, especially with Lacazette dropping very deep to join up play only to slow things down. There were a few occasions when the Frenchman needed to play with his head up instead of staring at the ball in a desperate attempt to keep under control. Having starred in our last two Europa League games in the final third, Willock’s deeper position meant he curtailed his usual runs into the box. We certainly missed them.

There was a scare late on when Runarsson fresh air-kicked as he looked to sweep up a long clearance by his opposite number. Luckily Maitland-Niles was on hand to clear up.

Second half

After the weekend’s disappointment, Pepe certainly seemed determined to make an impact. Inside four minutes, he again cut onto his left foot and this time cracked the bar from 25-yards. 

He wouldn’t have to wait long to finally get his goal. A quick exchange of passes by Maitland-Niles and Lacazette, freed Willock whose cross to the back post was collected by the Ivorian. You knew exactly what he was going to do. He took one touch and this time found the net with a very precise finish. His teammates were quick to congratulate him. (1-0)

The goal signalled a period of total domination by the Gunners. Nketiah thought he’d doubled the lead when he pounced on a spilt Maitland-Niles shot. The flag went up for offside but the reprieve for the home side was only temporary. With our next attack, Willock, this time popping up on the right, played a fantastic cross for Nelson to tap in at the near post. (2-0)

Nketiah’s frustration continued to grow when he missed a sitter of a header and a close-range back flick in quick succession. He did tee up Lacazette very neatly but Linde made a fine stop to deny the Arsenal captain. The Frenchman was replaced by Emile Smith Rowe almost immediately and Nketiah trudged off soon after with Balogun given the final nine minutes. 

The striker took less than 30 seconds to grab his first goal for the club. Collecting a Smith Rowe pass he swivelled and finished smartly. An unforgettable moment for the teenager who is currently in talks about extending his contract at the club. (3-0)

After our struggles in the Premier League, it was very positive to see us make light work of tonight’s challenge. Here’s hoping we can carry some of the attacking fluidity into Sunday’s clash with Wolves.

guest
83 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jules

Congrats Balogun!

Futsboller

Good run and smart play from ESR on that one, too.

goongot

finally we played some proper football.

Jeremy DG

Just shows we can do it if we want to

Johnny 4 Hats

Great result for the lads. The first step on the road to redemption for Pepe. And great momentum for a tricky encounter with Wolves.

COYG!

The Arsenal

Now where through hope to see him and certain others get more game time

Mick Malthouse

Pepe was excellent.

HenryKamp

Also lost possession thrice. Most by any player. If only if he could find a way to do some stepovers or go dribble past a player that’d be great.

Johnny 4 Hats

Maaaate. Clearly MOTM. Caused problems whenever he got the ball. Looked super sharp and clinical at times. What more do you want?

Heavenly Chapecoense

He needs to watch the game before making comments.

A Different George

I remember people complaining that Alexis lost the ball too.

Naija gooner

Especially when we are trying to break and our winger gives the ball away. But credit to him today he really put un a shift

Artetas Assistant

Pepe is not a winger

Robh

What do you think he is, a false 7?

Artetas Assistant

First time hearing that False 7 name, but I always thought he was an Inside Forward

Artetas Assistant

How many stopovers did RVP do

Anonymarse

I think Giroud got caught shagging some model

Artetas Assistant

Lol
🤔🤔
Oh stOpovers.

High gooner

Pepe only scores beautiful goals

C.B.

A big win against top opposition including goals from open play. Hope we keep it going.

Johnny 4 Hats

I’ve always considered Molde the jewel in the crown of Scandinavian football…

A Different George

Ostersund, surely.

yen

Nice to have some things to smile about after a game of football!

Artetas Assistant

I wasn’t watching the game (thanks Blogs) but I’ll play Xhaka in CF ahead of Laca.

Artetas Assistant

Ahhh focus on the positives on the night right?? 🍾 – Fola is our lad no doubt – Maybe runnarson being small is like a cat being small – Seems Pepe kept it simple, he’s a natural monster who has had to step back to step forward. I have no doubt of his being super for us, he doesn’t cheer his goals because he’s hard on himself and knows he should be doing better. Look how he lit up when Fola scored – Smith Rowe knew sth we didn’t immediately he passed the ball to Folarin – Ceballos is a… Read more »

Johnny 4 Hats

Keep them coming. I usually get my post match analysis from a guy on meth. But he’s checked himself into rehab. Your thoughts are a great second best.

Artetas Assistant

😂 😂
I’m not half as creative as yourself J4H

Johnny 4 Hats

I love your work man! It’s like a Samuel Beckett play wrapped in a Dali painting. Keep it up bro!

Artetas Assistant

That’s a Wild compliment man , Bless

Timorous Me

What about if your cat isn’t small? Mine used to weigh 25 pounds (only 18 now!) and has two really strong hands, if you ask me. Not great on the ball, I’ll admit.

Johnny 4 Hats

It’s a fe-line between purrrfect and clawful.

Artetas Assistant

You a Literature/arts guy or something ?

Johnny 4 Hats

Well done! Copywriter with a masters in English Lit.

Artetas Assistant

Great at it 🙌🏽🙌🏽

WordWeb mobile dictionary (best offline I believe) describes you perfectly when I keyed in ‘copywriter’ – “The successful copywriter is a master of apposite and evocative verbal images”

I’ll be looking up Samuel Beckett books tomorrow morning , and when I have 22 million , I’ll make sure to purchase an original Dali ✊🏽

Artetas Assistant

Don’t rule him out since Mr Pavon has not had a say in this matter …

Johnny 4 Hats

What with all the entropic chaos and uncertainty of the modern world, it’s comforting to know that all Europa League group stages games are identical.

OdalGooner

I put to you that your view of this chaotic world is caused by a lack of distancing yourself. Enthropy is Chaos? Only up close. Zoom out a little 🙂 (I love your posts, thank you 🙂

Johnny 4 Hats

Wow. Thank you for the advice. I think you just might be right. 🙏

Jack

ESR with the assist and Balogan scores with his first two touches. I’m not crying, you are!

Frank

Honestly think Nelson is the player in our squad who can add the biggest chaos factor. Just needs to work a bit on his end product but I think its coming. He should definitely be on the bench at least, to come on as an impact sub

Jean Ralphio

Maybe we should try Saka in a number 10/free role and Nelson on the left? Pepe on the right.

Artetas Assistant

Nelson on right , Auba left, Saka in free role, Pepe in Cf (free role striker)

Still love wenger

Don’t why all the down votes, but it’s a very creative idea.

Goonerink

pepe wont chase across the front 3, nelson looked awesome cutting in and allowing tierney/saka to be the overlapping crosser.

oh and having 2 players in a free role destroys all front pressing and structure, something arteta is actually doing quite well.

Viv the 🐐

I think if there would be player playing central from all those names it would be Nelson. He played there today in the second half whilst playing out from the back. he has the ball control and the dribbling and maybe the eye for the pass. Saka is so dangerous outwide. He knows how to use his pace and dribbling. I think a central Position does not suit him. I also thought about the Pepe central option. Probably in a build up phase he could use his ball control centrally and he and Auba are drifting in and out. So… Read more »

Artetas Assistant

I think It doesn’t have to, football is a life analogy and two intelligent people can definitely interchange roles or handle multiple roles fluidly .. I think

Artetas Assistant

Here come yours mate! 😁🍺🍺

Bould's Eyeliner

Are we going to wait for Willock or someone else though to grow into CAM? Biggest question imo, especially with Aubameyang just running around looking to serve himself. He has to pass to himself, run to his own pass, and then look to score. No wonder he’s always knackered.

Naked Cygan

Good win. Lots of positives, only negative was Laca. He looks lost and flat. We need to beat Wolves now, if not then I suggest we join the Swedish league and enjoy every game.

Torterrier

Molde are Norwegian

Naked Cygan

Good thing I don’t work in immigration or the tourisam industry. I watched both games and all this time they were Swedish. FFS 🙂

Torterrier

Ha! Good job you couldn’t go to the game, would’ve ended up somewhere in Sweden

Artetas Assistant

Haha

nikoniko

Pepe was good. the fluidity of game affects him

Der32

Great to see the youngsters doing well. Willock with a great pass, and that burst of speed to get into the box was superb from Nelson as he was almost knocked out of balance. Balogun off to a great start. Pepe on a path to redemption. Not so bad for a thursday kickoff!

DialSquareGoon

Basically ground them down with our superior quality players in the second half. Midfield transition remains an issue along with progression into the final third. But some decent individual performances and 3 points. I’ll take it!

Gunnerlocutor

Will be good to see the “kids” get a lot of games time in the next to Europa games. I wish ESR had more time on the pitch today but now there are the meaningless group stage games he, Balogun and others can enjoy.

Man Manny

Great result.
If Pepe can replicate that in the EPL, and that is a big if, what a player we would have on our hands.
Keep Balogun as much as it depends on the club.
We are on the cusp of a good team; I see us challenge in a season or two with more mature ESR, AMN, Martinelli, Saka, Nelson, Willock, Balogun (if he stays) and Nketiah.
Arteta has to play them more often now.

Better performance in the second half. Everyone that I hoped would turn up did.

Willock – 2 assists
Nelson – 1 goal
Pepe – 1 goal
ESR- 1 assist
Balogun – 1 goal

I’ll know our problems are finally solved when we can play like this regularly against Premier League opposition.

HenryKamp

Bumketiah shouldn’t be given any further chance. Rather have Balogun sing da ting. There’s a huge difference in the quality of U21 and PL/EL. Nketiah has failed to show his knack of scoring as he does with Eng U21

Fatgooner

Spot on. That miss at 2-0 was unforgivable. Had that been a tight PL game it could have cost us a couple of points. He’s bang average. One of the biggest problems we have at the club right now is the lack of attacking options. Auba is the only quality striker we have.

Timorous Me

He’s also only 21. Pretty sure people were saying these same things about Dominic Calvert-Lewin a year ago and look at the way he’s scoring now, kicking on at the ripe old age of 23.

Viv the 🐐

That is the question with promoting the youth: How long do you stick around with them. I think it is clear now that with Jenkinson, Wilshere, Gibbs, Walcott we sticked around for too long. I also think it is too early with Nketiah. But I don’t know about his development. I mean also with Balogun: he will probably go out on loan next season IF he stays. Sounds very reasonable to me to get a full pro season experience. And this is his showcase now, you could say. I think John-Jules has also a proper shout and don’t forget about… Read more »

Crash Fistfight

Calvert-Lewin at least had the physicality and athleticism to be a handful, even if he couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo.

Who’s to say this isn’t his Rohan Ricketts season, in any case? I remember thinking Emile Heskey looked sensational at Leicester, only for him to turn into a lumpy hold-up man, so anything is possible.

Fatgooner

A good evening’s work.

Nice to watch some creative intelligent flowing football for a change. Pepe man of the match and well done Balagun. Awful miss by Eddie, who huffed and puffed but couldn’t finish a sentence. Laca awful and should go ASAP.

Molde very average, but you can only beat what’s in front of you. We can now rest even more players for the next two EL games.

Now let’s beat Wolves.

bobbyp

Good win. Pepe was very good. Chuffed for Balogun.

Martin

Who gave a thumbs down?

bobbyp

Perhaps a Molde fan Martin (or a Spud).

Baichung Bhutia

The second half was so nice to watch. We should just play Europa league and FA cup. Was Willock playing defensive midfield in the first half? Happy for Pepe, Nelson. Thought AMN had a good game as well. Laca with his ball control was funny.

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

Yep disappointment and dead football again when Wolves come to town on Sunday

DialSquareGoon

Laca’s done. Hard to watch.

Naija gooner

WILLOCK TWO ASSIST!!!!!!!
BALOGUNNNNNNN!!!!!!

WhatthehellMikel

So happy to see a tad less ataxia on the pitch. The reduced mutability in our buildup was positively salubrious COYG!

78/79/80

Well I enjoyed this comment mate. Made me laugh.
Not sure why you’d thumb it down

Vonnie

If I could have ordered three goals I would have chosen those three players to score, I really enjoyed that game, it’ll be more difficult in the Premier League but I think this is the way Mikel wants to play. The young players all did well and the experienced ones too, it was nice to see everyone looking happy.

Fuzz

well done youngsters! great to see

The Arsenal

Fast running out of patience with Laca. Part of me feels sorry for him but at the same time his presence is almost poisoning the team.

Viv the 🐐

I’m a big Laca fan, and even prior to the United game, I see no reasoning for extending his contract. Seems like a cool dude and love the Auba-Laca connection. And this was a better game of his from a link up game. He was like the third midfielder also hustling back and screening of the week side. But offensively it has been a total flop the last year. His strengths of hold up, link up and finishing are not present for a years. We should move on here. Two Strikers are too much with young talent coming through. Up… Read more »

Cultured Determination

just look at bologun’s eyes. he has the deadly kill in him. just compare his expression to Eddie and Laca’s.
Edu and Co, please dont Gnbrify his contract.

Daniel

he should get to start at least 1 of the 2 remaining group games, now we qualified we should give the youth players a chance, and we gotta rotate with the fixture pile up anyway

Santori

A win over a weak side in europa and suddenly people want to rearrange the first team…

We flatter to deceive. Come league game is the real test.

Pepe etc better look good today considering level of opposition.

Height of hubris.

Khandaker

Good result. I hope they keep it up in the next

Khandaker

Of course Arsenal played much better but they missed several more chances