We began our Europa League campaign with an entertaining 4-2 win over Vorskla Poltava at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
Read on for four things we noticed from the game:
- Debutant Emile Smith Rowe on who he'll give his first matchworn shirt to
- Emery's verdict on Leno and Torreira
- Where Auba feels we can improve
A cunning plan for Auba?
The inclusion of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Arsenal team raised eyebrows prior to kick off, with many commenting that it was a game the Gabon international could have been rested for. But Unai Emery was perhaps conscious of giving the forward a chance to add to his goal tally, having admitted after our opening two games of the season that he needed to find his confidence in front of goal again. If that was the plan, then it certainly paid off as Aubameyang responded with two goals, and was so close to claiming an assist after setting up Welbeck.
The Micki and Iwobi show
Aubameyang may dominate the headlines after his brace, but two of the stars of the show were Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi. The former played a key role in both of Auba’s goals, starting the counter-attackl after some fine work for the first one and then combining with his former Dortmund team-mate for the second. Iwobi, meanwhile, was a constant threat, taking more touches than any of our front four and his quick feet created chances for Mkhitaryan and later Aubameyang. It was a really impressive showing from the Nigeria international and his Armenian team-mate.
Sokratis to the fore once more
After a fine display at Newcastle on Saturday, it was clear that Sokratis is getting better and better – and he underlined the point once again here. The Greek defender was in imperious form, taking command of the backline, communicating well and earning roars of approval from the Emirates faithful for two huge sliding tackles, one in each half. Deceptively quick, Sokratis has added an edge to our backline that will be priceless over the course of the season.
Time for Torreira on set-pieces
There was a lot of intrigue around Lucas Torreira’s inclusion for his first start in Arsenal colours – and the Uruguayan was his typically high energy, buzzing around and even reprising his attempt to head the ball while lying on the ground that we saw in the World Cup. But perhaps most noticeable was his role as our chief set-piece taker. Torreira whipped in a series of decent corners, with one in particular finding Sokratis who glanced his header wide. The Uruguayan also tried his luck with a firm free kick that found the side netting and it was an encouraging showing. He has established himself as a real option from a dead ball.
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