Lacazette on Fire as Arsenal Ease Past Valencia
In cup competitions like these, domestic league form is thrown out the window and what matters is the performance for 90 minutes on a cold European night. Following the capitulations in the Premier League in recent weeks, Arsenal’s Champions League hopes are on a thin thread following four defeats in their last five League games but with a good aggregate result against Valencia, Unai Emery’s men would be on their way to Baku, Azeibaijan, without Henrikh Mkhitaryan of course, to play the winner between Eintrancht Frankfurt and fellow Premier League rivals, Chelsea.
As expected, Emery went with a strong lineup in what we should consider his favored formation, 3-4-1-2, but it was the visiting side that began brightly with Rodrigo squaring the ball into the Arsenal danger area and it was lofted to Row Z by Ezequiel Garay from just six yards out. The writing was on the wall for the Gunners to step up their game but the fan’s despair turned into anguish when Diakhaby rose ahead of three players, yes, three players to head Rodrigo’s flick home. This wasn’t the best way to start the game but it was just 11 minutes and there was a whole lot of football to be played.
The Gunners found their equalizer when Arsenal’s fantastic attacking duo connected yet again. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dragged the goalie and defender along before dropping the ball on a platter for his partner, Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman guided the ball to an unguarded net and levelled the contest. Lacazette doubled his money when he reacted first to a Granit Xhaka dinked effort to head the ball on the ground. As you’d expect, the bounce confused the goalie and he managed to make a save, but Goal Line Technology came to Arsenal’s rescue and they were ahead. Lacazette actually had two more chances to put the game beyond doubt and I was shocked to see him miss both – the first was a totally missed header from six yards following some good work from Aubameyang and the second was a horrible double miss with just the goalie to beat.
Football can be cruel in situations like this when you don’t take your chances and Kevin Gameiro almost punished the Gunners when he was clean through on goal, but Petr Cech did very well to make a good block. The Gunners ended the game on a high when Sead Kolasinac made one of his marauding runs on the left flank and swung a cross that was sidefooted home by Aubameyang, to give the Gunners some cushion ahead of the crucial second leg at Mestalla.
It’s evident that this 3-4-1-2 formation is Emery’s best, as it clearly brings out the best in Lacazette and Aubameyang, and it should give the manager a good platform for next season to work with. This formation has seen us win some big games this season and it can only work when we have our best players available for selection.
All focus will go to Brighton this weekend, before the business of finishing the contest against Valencia next week Thursday.
Follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily.
Visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page.
Click on the “Follow button” to join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List