A much-altered Arsenal team passed through Norwegian minnows Bodo/Glimt, with Eddie Nketiah, Rob Holding and Fabio Vieira all scoring to put the Gunners at the top of the Europa League group with a 3-0 win.
Common super sunday clash with Liverpool on the horizon this weekend, Arsenal made eight changes from the side that beat Tottenham 3-1 last weekend but still ran into an easy first-half lead through goals from Nketiah and Holding.
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Bodo/Glimt were supported by five percent of their city of 55,000 at the Emirates Stadium and improved after the break – but were kept at bay by Arsenal throughout the night.
Gunners substitute Gabriel Jesus was taken off the bench by Mikel Arteta and the Brazilian provided an excellent assist for Fabio Vieira, who fired on goal in his first home game for the Gunners.
How Arsenal Swept Bodo
Arteta’s Gunners flew out of the blocks and were inches from opening the scoring in the first 10 minutes through Vieira.
Nketiah put the ball to him in the area, but the Portuguese midfielder hit the top of the bar with a sharp shot. But it didn’t take long for the wood to be in Arsenal’s favour.
Gabriel Martinelli passed Kieran Tierney down the left on the counterattack and when the Scotsman hit the post with a powerful shot, Nketiah was on hand to score the rebound into the empty net.
Four minutes later, Arsenal scored the second. Vieira’s corner was deflected to the midfielder, who crossed to Holding at the far post to head in, without defender Bodo scoring.
It could have been longer before the break for Arsenal, who limited Bodo to just a half chance in the first period. Granit Xhaka tested goalkeeper Nikita Haikin’s gloves with a free kick at the edge of the area, while Vieira took another chance in the area next to the goal.
Arsenal: Turner (7); Tomiyasu (6), Holding (7), Gabriel (7), Tierney (7); Scallop (6), Scallop (6), Scallop (7); Marquinhos (6), Nketiah (8), Martinelli (7)
Subs: Foot (6), Odegaard (7), Jesus (6), White (6), Nelson (n/a)
Man of the game: Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal)
The visitors improved after the break, with American goalkeeper Matt Turner making his home debut for Arsenal, making a solid low save to deny Joel Mugisha from inside the box.
Arteta, perhaps unimpressed with the start of his team’s second half, put Jesus, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka ahead of time.
Both Saka and Odegaard combined to give Nketiah a one-on-one chance with just over 10 minutes left, but the Arsenal forward failed to seal the result as he bounced the ball over Bodo’s crossbar.
Instead, Jesus took it upon himself to make the score a realistic reflection of the match, showing excellent footwork to cut the left and cut to Vieira, who scored.
Arteta: We can do things much better
Despite extending his winning streak to four games, keeping a clean sheet and maintaining his 100 percent record in Europe this season, Arteta believes his team still needs to improve in many areas to control games.
Arteta claimed that Saka-Odegaard-Jesus’ triple start at the start of the second half was mainly due to his players’ minute management rather than a bad period, but the Spaniard identified a lack of composure in his team’s performance.
“There are still a lot of things we can collectively do better, we need to keep the standards as high as possible and take it to the next level,” Arteta said at his post-game press conference.
“We had too many spells running, we didn’t win enough duels and we didn’t control the ball and recover it well enough. It was too open with too many transitions. When the game is in your hands, you have to manage it much better.
“We have to do 10-15 passes together enough times to get more in the final third. We were really effective in the final third, we looked like a threat. But in terms of composure, the time between units, maybe because they haven’t played together enough , it lacked a little. In football, five minutes is everything”
Gunners depth looks better than ever
Sky Sports’ Sam Blitz Review:
October is a tiring month for Arsenal. Nine games in 29 days, four of the last six were away from home.
But what will delight Mikel Arteta is that eight changes can be made and results and performances do not falter. Arsenal were barely forced out of second gear against Tottenham and Bodo/Glimt, which is the perfect tonic ahead of a big match against Liverpool this weekend.
Bar Cedric Soares, who has just returned from injury, all available first-team members are used – which is testament to the depth that Arteta has at his disposal.
Last season, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney were deemed irreplaceable, but now they are struggling to show that Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko should be dropped as full-backs, meaning they can be used to keep Europa League levels high.
With one more goal to his name, Fabio Vieira is taking some creative burden off of Martin Odegaard, while Rob Holding’s calm means a lot that William Saliba isn’t asked to do so early in his Arsenal first-team career.
Injuries will eventually crop up at Arsenal, but in Thursday’s display these second-tier players showed they can make it to the mark.
When Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League in May, both Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher said the Thursday-Sunday routine would detract from their season. But they are at the top of the league and barely sweat in Europe. It hasn’t been that bad so far.
England squad watch: Will three Lions lose Nketiah?
Two English top scorers in the first half for Arsenal, but neither has the slightest chance of making England’s World Cup squad this winter.
However, talks will need to take place about Eddie Nketiah’s international future, with the striker revealing on Wednesday that there have been talks with Ghana about exchanging alliances.
Will Nketiah ever be on Gareth Southgate’s mind? The striker is England’s all-time leading scorer, but he will need to do more than score points for Arsenal’s second-tier teams if he is to force his way into the senior phase.
As for those with chances for Qatar, both Bukayo Saka and Ben White came on as second-half substitutes but didn’t have enough time to make an impact on the game.
White has shown some effort to advance from right-back – and his versatility at right-back, full-back and right-back could make his chances well with Kyle Walker undergoing surgery this week and facing a race against time to be fit for Qatar.
Saka has shown some flashes of brilliance – but his chances of starting for England will be judged in the bigger games.
What is the next?
Arsenal return to Premier League action on Sunday when they receive Liverpoolto live Sky Sports Main Event and Awarded League from 16:00, starting at 16:30.
The Gunners will play the match back against They go / shine in Norway on Thursday, starting at 17:45.
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