Qarabag Review: Kos The Kids Are Alright

Arsenal 1 – 0 Qarabag FK

Tom Cruise saved nations, democracy and the world but that was just child’s play. The next Mission: Impossible film is about a crazed blogger taking his revenge on the world after being forced to write 750 words about last night’s match. As an advert for returning to straight knockout competitions, it was a winner.

A hat-tip to those 21,500 hardy souls who ventured out for a match which left nothing but a carbon footprint over Europe the size of a Chelsea jackboot.

A bitterly cold night, a meaningless match, and uninspiring opposition; welcome to a Nightmare on Group Stage Street.

The officials didn’t want to be there and did their level best to sap what little joy there was of the occasion. The Grinch ran the line and was so fed up with the lack of action that he stole Eddie Nketiah’s Christmas. A deliciously executed header ruled offside; don’t let the humbug choke you, lino.

Don’t let the barely disguised disdain for the event fool you. There were plenty of good things from the evening. Laurent Koscielny’s jog around the pitch for 70-odd minutes set him up nicely for the weekend’s trip to Southampton.

The smile post-match underlined how much it meant to him to return to first-team action. In an unbeaten team, to boot:

It was the end of my rehab, so I am very happy to play today with my team, for this club, and to enjoy it with them on the pitch.

And off the pitch, as well. A respectful joshing helped the old boy put his coat on, underlining the point Bernd Leno made recently. Koscielny is a popular captain.

As well as Koscielny, Nacho Monreal continued his rehab, no, no, no, with a 20-minute cameo. He had nothing much to do either.

International Bright Young Thing

For Unai Emery, the positives were no new injuries suffered and mature performances from the youngsters. If nothing else, they were promising pointers for the future.

Star of the show was Bukayo Saka. When it comes to deciding to his nickname, “Spud” might have sufficed in years gone by. Not now. This is the entertainment age. He needs something with a bit of zing. After his second-half shot which momentarily stunned the goalkeeper, The Decapitator fits the bill.

Unai Emery said Saka played with “big personality” and the player himself enjoyed the occasion. He’d dreamed of playing for the club since he was eight, he would later tell the media.

It was all good; the movement and ease with which he adapted to the first team, especially in a side which never played together before.

Matches this inconsequential make for difficult analysis. You can read too much into youthful promise and too much into indifference. Mesut Ozil will fall into that category.

Ludicrously, he was criticised for limited mobility after appearing to jar his hip. His body language in the preceding minutes didn’t help. He struggled to show any enthusiasm for a fixture for which supporters could muster little enthusiasm. Don’t do as I do, etc.

The reality is that after five weeks absence, he was highly unlikely to come into the XI and produce a world-class performance. Did he do anything to persuade Unai Emery that he is worth a place in Sunday’s XI? Was that ever on the cards? No is the answer in both cases. As with Aaron Ramsey, my guess is that the intention is just to give the German a place on the bench.

We shall see.

Not That The Draw Is Rigged…

The 15 possible opponents who await in Monday’s draw are now known:

FC Zurich, Celtic, Slavia Prague, Fenerbahçe, Olympiacos, Rapid Wien, Lazio. Malmö FF, Krasnodar, Rennes, BATE Borisov, Viktoria Plzeň, Club Brugge, Shakhtar Donetsk, Galatasaray

Olympiacos it is, then. Or Shakhtar…

’til Tomorrow.

15 thoughts on “Qarabag Review: Kos The Kids Are Alright

  1. Jonnygunner says:

    Thanks for another one YW
    Its much appreciated👍🏻

  2. C says:

    Well done Yogi, always good to have you spread your holiday joy!

    The more and more you think about 22 unbeaten (even the 2 that beat us we SHOULD have beaten 1 and the other is favorites for both the PL and CL), the more you realize just how brilliant of a manager Emery is. Capable of getting the best out of the first team but bringing through this talented youth class and every one putting in a performance when called up. Well done to Mert and Freddie as well.

  3. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    That was hard work YW but you did that match review some justice. If it had been me, I may have been tempted to give this one a miss and redirect your follower’s to the story of Celtic’s narrow passage into the knockout stages or Zenit doing their Czech counter parts a favour or the drama that unfolded at the Karaiskakis Stadium or Gerrard’s Rangers slipping at the last hurdle! Group I winner takes all! Standard Liege not being able to find a winner against bottom of the group. And the inevitable result which show’s that a mid table French Ligue 1 side can beat table topping Kazakhstan Premier League side with ease! (well anything other than this dire affair).

    Anyone know much about Eintracht Frankfurt? They bossed a group that had Marseille and Lazio! Is Luka Jovic a striker we should be tracking?

  4. Bill says:

    Thanks for the post yogi. I didn’t watch but it sounds like the ultimate nobody cares sort of game. The big news is Kos getting in 70 minutes. May be I am misreading the tea leaves but Emery took out Lacazette and kos because he knows he might need them in the coming weeks and leaving Mesut Ozil in for almost 90 minutes has to be some sort of message. I am sure Mesut was not very happy. C said yesterday he is paid to create assists and you only have to look at his record this season and for the last 2 1/2 seasons to see why he has been dropped down the pecking order

  5. Leopold says:

    Why ESR didn’t play? Is he injured or is he in contention for next game?

  6. Pete the Thirst says:

    Saka looked promising last night. The academy is showing green shoots at last after being neglected for so long.

    As I’ve said before just look at all the potential talent right on Arsenal’s doorstep. We don’t need to be combing the Amazon for a junior football Tarzan.

    Rennes v Arsenal sounds quaint.

  7. YW says:


    He’s injured. Doubt he’s going to Southampton.

  8. Paul says:

    Shakhtar most likely to continue the run against clubs from former Soviet and/or recently annexed Russian regions in crisis. We do have scores to settle with Shakhtar from when Willian did us in.

  9. ferkov says:

    Well done Yogi. The Shoppies would have struggled with this material.
    though theyd have played a more entertaining match than last night.

    The decapitator. That was the highlight for me. first thinking he was being a pussy, then seeing his Rumpole nose. hilarious.
    bloody sadist. never mind.

  10. Dalm says:

    at the risk of being pedantic – Tarzan wasn’t from the Amazon jungle.

    and if the academy is producing now,development must have started under the dear departed Mr Wenger

    having said that, loving this season

  11. C says:

    Denis Suarez for £14m, absolutely, please make that happen.

  12. Noon Gunner says:

    Amazing that you can write readable, interesting prose after such a game, YW. Respect.

    The most memorable moment for me was watching Kos’s expression of unadulterated happiness as he was hooked by Emery at 72 mins. I felt glad for him at the time, but having now watched the excellent documentary on the .com site about his injury, his absence from the World Cup and his exceptionally strong recovery, I know why he was grinning like a Cheshire Cat. Warmly recommended viewing. I learned a lot about the perspectives of the physio team at AFC, too.

    One more reason it’s good to be a Gunner.

  13. Jonnygunner says:

    at the risk of being pedantic – Tarzan wasn’t from the Amazon jungle.
    You are being pedantic 😉

    and if the academy is producing now,development must have started under the dear departed Mr Wenger

    having said that, loving this season

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