Arsenal 1-0 Qarabag

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Video

Watch how we rounded off Group E with a win

Laurent Koscielny made his long-awaited comeback from injury as we rounded off our Europa League Group E campaign with a 1-0 win over Qarabag on Thursday night.

Alexandre Lacazette scored the game's only goal after being set up by Mesut Ozil - and you can watch that goal by clicking the 'play' button above.

Koscielny looked assured throughout, and his highlights can be viewed below.

Press conference

‘Saka played with a very big personality’

Bukayo Saka’s effervescent performance against Qarabag on Thursday night has people talking, and Unai Emery is one of his growing list of admirers.

The 17-year-old made his full debut at Emirates Stadium and caught the eye with an incisive display that he nearly capped with a goal.

But how did our head coach rate Saka?

“Every young player, we have the responsibility to give them chances, first to train with us and to be demanding with their performances,” he said. “We give them these chances in the games like today, when we can do that. They show us in every match positive things. 

“Today Saka also played with a good performance, with a very big personality and we were speaking at half-time. His personality is very important for us to continue trying to go 1v1 and break lines with his quality. 

“He played with a very big personality and sometimes with a very good performance. It’s very important for his confidence and for us also, because we can look at this player and see quality to help us.

“Two weeks ago we played in Kiev and it was the same with Emile and Willock, who scored there. Nketiah played today also and gave a good performance. We need one process with them, but in this process, they also need to show us their [development].”

Quotes

‘Ever since I was eight, I wanted to play here!'

Bukayo Saka

It has been a whirlwind 24 hours for Bukayo Saka.

The 17-year-old found out in training on Wednesday that he would start against Qarabag, and he admits he has been “buzzing” ever since.

Saka did not waste his chance, impressing with a bright performance on the left wing and he nearly capped it off with a goal.

The teenager spoke to the media after the game and this is what he said:

on his home debut…
It is a dream come true, ever since I joined the club at the age of eight I always dreamed of playing at the Emirates so for all the coaches and the fans to support me tonight was really good.

on his confidence growing throughout the game…
I didn’t start too fast but I grew into the game and that’s what I wanted to do. I started to get past my man and create chances and I could have scored at the end, I don’t know what happened.

on when he found out he was playing…
I think it was Wednesday in training, we went through the team and [Unai Emery] called it out and I couldn’t believe it, but I just had to get on with it. I just focused, and I couldn’t stop thinking about today and how I was going to play, and I think it turned out alright. But I should have got my goal!

on his family’s reaction…
They were buzzing, they couldn’t stop smiling last night but they got me into bed early and we are all just so happy.

on being part of a winning team…
It feels good because we are on a long unbeaten run and we don’t want it to end. Winning, winning, winning, that is our mentality. That’s what the coach says to us, always keep going and keep fighting and that is what we did tonight, we got the job done and we are through to the next round.

on what he needs to do to get more chances…
I think I just need to keep playing well at academy level and any chance I have an opportunity to train with the first team I need to impress the head coach and show him what I can do, so he can believe in me like he did tonight.

Press conference

Emery's press conference: read every word

It was another satisfactory night for Unai Emery on Thursday as we made it 22 games unbeaten with a 1-0 victory against Qarabag.

Afterwards, our head coach discussed the performance, Laurent Koscielny's return and Bukaya Saka's display.

Read on for a full transcript from his press conference:

on how Koscielny is…
Good evening. We are doing with him this process after the big injuries. He started training with us, playing with the under-23s, and today was another step for him, for us and we need to know tomorrow and Saturday how he is going to feel after this match. If Sunday we can [play] him on the pitch.

on Koscielny smiling as he left the pitch - and if he felt good for him…
When a player comes back like Koscielny, after a big injury… a very big injury, it can give the player different moments. I think for Koscielny it’s good that he’s recovered and I also think he recovered in a good time from his big injury. When he comes back like today with us, every supporter of Arsenal is happy, and also the player. Then this process with him is to take confidence again, take rhythm for playing matches like today. We are going to continue this process maybe on Sunday. I want to wait tomorrow and Saturday for how he will feel after this match, for if he will play or not on Sunday.

on Saka’s display…
Every young player, we have the responsibility to give them chances, first to train with us and to be demanding with their performances. We give them these chances in the games like today, when we can do that. They show us in every match positive things. Today Saka also played with a good performance, with a very big personality and we were speaking at half-time. They were trying… his personality is very important for us to continue trying to go 1v1 and break lines with his quality. He played with a very big personality and sometimes with a very good performance. It’s very important for his confidence and for us also, because we can look at this player and see quality to help us.

on whether our young players' quality and potential excites him…
Three weeks ago we played in Kiev and it was the same with Emile and Willock, who scored there. Nketiah played today also and gave a good performance. We need one process with them, but in this process, they also need to show us their [development].

on Lacazette and Sokratis playing ahead of busy schedule…
First we needed to have the mix of the first XI with young players. You can improve, you can play better if you have players who can help you on the pitch. For example Sokratis, he cannot play Sunday and he could play today. Lacazette, I think he needs rhythm to play and it’s not bad for him to play today. We decided for this reason and because every player who played today can play Sunday.

Post-Match Report

Arsenal 1-0 Qarabag: How it happened

Laurent Koscielny

WHAT HAPPENED

 
Alex Lacazette scored the only goal as we rounded off the Europa League group stage with a win.
 
The France striker showed neat footwork and an unerring eye for goal after latching on to Mesut Ozil’s through ball in the first half - and the result was never in doubt after that.
 
Lacazette got the goal but the big story was the return of his compatriot, Laurent Koscielny.
 
The captain received a rousing reception from the home fans, 225 days after he ruptured his Achilles tendon in the semi-final of this competition against Atletico Madrid.

Laca opens the scoring

Laca opens the scoring

 
It’s been a long - at times lonely - road back for Koscielny and, although this was a dead rubber in front of a relatively sparse crowd, it was a hugely proud moment for him.
 
Koscielny almost got a dream goal when he met an Ozil corner with a header, and some of his teammates went even closer.
 
Carl Jenkinson had a shot blocked and Bukayo Saka, making his home debut, curled a fine effort from the edge of the box only to see Vagner claw the ball away.
 
Saka went close twice in the second half too - poking one effort wide from close range - and then crossed for Eddie Nketiah to head in what appeared to be our second.
 
The offside flag went up, but in the end one goal was plenty. And the unbeaten run stretches to 22.

HOW IT HAPPENED

 
See how our latest win unfolded with our play-by-play commentary

THREE THINGS WE NOTICED

Koscielny back where he belongs, Ozil returns in style and slick Saka steps up

WHAT IT MEANS

 
We’d already clinched top spot in Group E so this win merely confirmed our superiority in this stage of the competition.
 
It gets tougher now but we go into Monday’s draw for the last 32 knowing that we will not face another group winner - and our second leg will be at home.
 

TEAM NEWS

 
Some thought Unai Emery would rest all of his star names for this one but, although there were nine changes, Ozil was named in the starting line-up after missing five games with a back problem.
 
Lacazette was also involved, picked to lead the line with youngsters Nketiah and Saka either side of him.
 
Saka made his home debut, Emi Martinez made his first appearance of the season in goal and Sokratis - suspended for our next domestic game - started at the back.
 
Then, of course, there was Koscielny. The captain returned for his first senior appearance in 225 days after recovering from a ruptured Achilles.

WHAT’S NEXT

We’re back in Premier League action on Sunday with a trip to the south coast to face Southampton.
 
Then it’s the second north London derby of the month - Tottenham are back at the Emirates for a Carabao Cup quarter-final.

Fixtures

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The Emirates FA Cup
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Results

Premier League
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