Post-Match Report

Report: Arsenal 1-0 FC Zurich

Kieran Tierney celebrates against FC Zurich

FC Zürich -

Emirates Stadium
Europa League
Europa League
                  K. Tierney (17)
K. Tierney (17)
1 0
  FC Zürich
FC Zürich

Kieran Tierney’s first-half goal was just about enough to secure top spot in Group A and send us straight into the Round of 16 of the Europa League.

The full-back struck a wonderful long-range effort – his first of the season – but it was far from plain sailing after that.

Zurich had an effort ruled out for offside after Aaron Ramsdale made a full-stretch save in the second half and we withstood further late pressure before clinching the three points needed to top the group.


Kieran’s cracker

The visitors, who were without a win all season until last week, started with plenty of ambition, and took the game to us in the opening ten minutes.

Backed by a lively away support, the Swiss champions forced a couple of early corners, and it was a while until we settled into our stride.

Reiss Nelson – one of seven players brought into the starting XI from the win over Nottingham Forest at the weekend – miscued his shot from a pulled back corner, and Gabriel Jesus’s effort was blocked.

Tierney’s cracker opened the scoring just after the quarter hour. Fabio Vieira had the first attempt, smacking a shot from the edge of the area into the midriff of a defender. The ball fell nicely to Tierney 20 yards out, who adjusted his body, then let rip with a left-footed effort that flew in beyond the keeper.

We now had the momentum. Vieira was next to try his luck. Eddie Nketiah rolled the ball to him inside the box, but the midfielder’s first time shot struck Jesus, who as in an offside position.

Nketiah forced a good save from Yanick Brecher in the Zurich goal when he headed firmly towards goal from a corner, and Vieira had another effort charged down in the box after excellent work from the flying Tierney on the left flank.

In the balance

We were racking up the attempts now, and started the second half in positive fashion too.

Within minutes of the restart Jesus had a great chance when the ball fell to him at the far post, but his effort from a narrow angle was turned behind for a corner.

But with PSV Eindhoven winning their game in Norway, it meant there was no margin for error – only victory would see us seal top spot.

Perhaps with that in mind Mikel Arteta sent on Thomas Partey and Bukayo Saka on the hour mark. Mohamed Elneny, making his return after a two-month injury absence, was withdrawn.

Ramsdale made a flying save to deny Antonio Marchesano, the rebound fell to Adrian Guerrero, who buried the chance. But the flag was up for offside, and we breathed again.

While the game remained 1-0, our fortunes were very much in the balance. Zurich kept pushing forward, themselves looking for Conference League qualification. Bohdan Viunnyk flashed a shot just over from the edge of the area.

We came under more pressure – Tierney did well to head clear a dangerous-looking cross away and Ramsdale bravely claimed a late cross as we held on to the all-important clean sheet.

What it means

We have won the group and will go straight into the Europa League Round of 16, the first leg is on Thursday, March 9 with the return leg the following week.

The draw for the Round of 16 takes place on February 24. The eight winners of the play-off round matches (between the third-placed teams from the Champions League and the Europa League group stages) will join the competition at this stage.

The other Europa League group winners are: Fenerbahce, Real Betis, Union Saint-Gilloise, Real Sociedad, Feyenoord, Freiburg and Ferencvaros.

What’s next

It’s a quick turnaround before we play our penultimate Premier League match prior to the World Cup hiatus. We travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea in the midday (UK time) Sunday game.

Then it’s Brighton & Hove Albion at home in the Carabao Cup next Wednesday before we sign off for the winter away to Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday, November 12.

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