Matchwinner Kieran Tierney was pleased to get on the scoresheet for the first time this season as his first half strike against FC Zurich secured Arsenal a place in the Europa League last 16.
On a night when the Gunners struggled to for cutting edge, the Scotland international produced a fine finish in the first half, bouncing home a left-footed volley through a crowded penalty box.
His celebration was as venomous as his strike. Swinging his fists and roaring into the damp November night, he looked like a man releasing his recent frustration at being in and out of the side.
“It’s been coming – I’ve not scored in a while!” he told Arsenal.com afterwards.
“I’ve been getting closer in the last few games and I’d just like to tell the boys it’s about time I scored.”
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) November 3, 2022
Having created, and squandered, chances in the first half, Arsenal lacked fluidity after the break and looked nervy in the final 15 minutes when they opted to contain their opponents rather than go for the jugular.
Reflecting on the performance, Tierney said: “Job done is how you’d describe it. We’d have liked it to be more comfortable but it was never going to be easy.
“They came here with a lot to play for as well. But we dug deep and we defended well at the end. They put a lot of pressure on us.
“It’s massive for us [coming top]. Even before we started, that was always our target. In February we don’t need to play a certain round so we get more rest and recovery. It’s been a tough start to the season with all these games. It’s a bonus for sure.”
Tierney was rightly selected as man of the match by broadcasters and fans alike and he may well retain the left-back slot for Sunday’s match at Chelsea with Takehiro Tomiyasu picking up an injury and Oleksandr Zinchenko only just returning to full fitness.
“As soon as we finished this game, it’s Chelsea straight away,” said Tierney.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game. We’ve not got a lot of recovery but the boys will be ready for it, 100 per cent.”