Unai Emery got off to a winning start in Europe with Arsenal, which eased by its Ukrainian opposition at the Emirates.

By 90Min
September 20, 2018

Arsenal began its first Europa League campaign under Unai Emery with a comfortable 4-2 victory over Ukrainian outfit Vorskla Poltava on Thursday night. 

A two-goal salvo from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as well as decisive finishes from Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil ensured Emery would be able to celebrate his first evening in Europe with Arsenal with a win.

The largely empty Emirates Stadium still produced a decent atmosphere, especially whenever summer signings like Bernd Leno, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Lucas Torreira got on the ball.

After an opening 31 minutes in which Vorskla stood firm and defended well as a team, Arsenal found the breakthrough with their first shot on target, a swift and effective counter attack finished off by the ever dangerous Aubameyang.

After the halftime interval, things spiralled for Vorskla as Welbeck headed home. Arsenal continued to take the sting out of the contest as Aubameyang clinically finished another opportunity, with Ozil coming off the bench to poke home a fourth for the Gunners.

As has been the case all season so far for Emery's men, they were sloppy at the back and conceded twice late on from avoidable mistakes, much to the displeasure of Spaniard. Here's a closer look at the match:


ARSENAL

Key Talking Point

The major issue for Arsene Wenger's successor on Thursday night was the distinct lack of competition from a visiting side that finished third in the Ukrainian Premier League last season.

Anything less than a predicted landslide victory for Arsenal could have been embarrassing for the Gunners, but bar the two lapses in concentration at the back it was the clinical display most expected.

Worryingly for Gunners fans, their side have not managed to keep a single clean sheet in any of their competitive fixtures so far this season, a concern that Emery is undoubtedly looking to address as quickly as possible.

Unai Emery asked for control in his press conference after Saturday's win at Newcastle, and it something he had in abundance of on Thursday night, was exemplary control of the tie. The tireless energy from central midfield pairing Mohamed Elneny and Torreira as well as Alex Iwobi and Welbeck paid dividends as the game wore on.

Additionally, of the brief spells he had in possession, Leno looked much more assured with his capability on the ball than his goalkeeping adversary Petr Cech. 

Although as previously mentioned, against a side adequately out of their depth at this level and with an average home attendance of 3,000 in Vorskla's stadium in Poltava, Leno wasn't put under any kind of pressure to seriously threaten his distribution.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Leno (6), Lichtsteiner (6), Sokratis (7), Holding (6), Monreal (6), Elneny (7), Torreira (7), Mkhitaryan (7), Iwobi (9*), Welbeck (7), Aubameyang (8).

Substitutes: Ozil (7), Guendouzi (7), Smith-Rowe (7).


STAR MAN 

Iwobi's industry and endeavor to prove himself to the Arsenal faithful who have at times been adverse to the young Nigerian's efforts was phenomenal as he ran the show.

Linking up play and contributing defensively, the nephew of Jay-Jay Okocha put on a beautiful footballing exhibition. His party tricks towards the end of his appearance also kept the crowd involved.

As a number of happy Gunners fans have pointed out, the new manager's ideas and work ethic have seemingly fallen hand in hand with Iwobi, who will be looking to push forward this season and solidify a place in Emery's first team plans.


WORST PLAYER 

Lichtsteiner's error led to Vorskla's first goal in the game. It was a mistake that may well come from a lack in game time so far this season, with Hector Bellerin still favored on the right side of Emery's first XI backline.

However, with the experience that Lichtsteiner has to offer, it would be a safe bet in thinking this type of error will not be a mainstay in his performances.


Looking Ahead

This game was the first of four successive home fixtures in all competitions for Arsenal, with the next fixture being a considerably more difficult test against an Everton side looking to rebound from their first loss of the season against West Ham.

Considering Emery's well-documented and unparalleled Europa League success, Arsenal will be hoping for more of the same in Europe's perceived B competition, with trips to Qarabag FK and Sporting CP on the horizon for the red side of north London.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
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