FC Vorskla Poltava 0 – 3 Arsenal
Arsenal made short work of a dismal Vorskla side who played like they wished they were anywhere other than Kyiv. Not even the appearance of Carl Jenkinson could liven up the Ukrainians attack. And in fairness to Jenks, he had a comfortable night of it. That’s how poor Vorskla were.
How good were Arsenal? As makeshift teams goes, very. Eddie Nketiah led the line well and but for poor finishing, would have scored the goal his work deserved. Joe Willock did score, beautifully stroking home his shot to wrap up the win.
That was the third and thanks to a lino whose arm movements were straight out of the Jack Douglas school of running the line, final goal. Smith Rowe had a goal incorrectly chalked off in the second half. He opened the scoring, slotting home after Nketiah and Ramsey bundled their way through the home side’s defence.
Ramsey added the second. Touched in the area, he went down. Why not? Everyone else does and it became one of those ‘it’s a foul anywhere on the pitch’ moments. Which made it a penalty. The Welshman stuttered his run and scored. Which upset Vorskla who threatened to take their ball home.
The second half passed slowly. We’d done enough and Vorskla had had enough; their will was sapped and their tempers snapped. Unai Emery then decided that saving players for the weekend; Rob Holding made way for Medley, Ramsey for Saka and Guendouzi for Gilmour. The latter was youth making way for the colts.
Petr Cech made a couple of good saves and looked more comfortable with the ball at his feet than before. Vorskla tried to press, Petr chipped and they gave up. It was going to be a long night and they knew it.
All of which left Unai Emery jolly pleased because “the individual quality was good and it was a big performance for us.” And all things considered, he learned a fair bit about some of the youngsters.
Smith Rowe was no surprise to him.
He is taking confidence, he is taking responsibility and also I think today his performance in 90 minutes is very good. He is a good example for the other young players. We think they can help us but they need the confidence of playing matches, not only working with us in the training sessions. They needs to take minutes in matches like today. We want and have the responsibility with the young players like Emile but also the others for them to stay, work and show us that they can improve and stay with us.
I would add Nketiah into that group as well. His movement and general link-up play was good, providing plenty of scope for the supporting cast to advance into attacking roles. Willock, in particular, wasn’t shy in careering forward.
With the group sewn up, there’s no reason not to think we won’t see a similar line-up in a fortnight’s time against Qarabag. That should be a good moment for Laurent Koscielny to get a full ninety minutes alongside Medley perhaps?
It’s a good position to be in, however. Last night was a ‘job done +’ on the school report. We did a bit more than was needed and certainly learned a lot about the kids. It would be interesting to see one or two in more taxing circumstances but for the moment, this will do.
Now, we’re free to concentrate on the swamp dwellers at the weekend.