Final Result: Arsenal 3-0 Bodo/Glimt (Nketiah 23′, Holding 27′, Vieira 84′)
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Turner; Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney (White 70′); Lokonga, Xhaka (Odegaard 58′); Marquinhos (Saka 58′), F. Vieira, Martinelli (G. Jesus 58′); Nketiah (Nelson 82′)
With a crunch fixture against Liverpool coming up this weekend, Arsenal had the business of the Europa League to handle with the reigning Norwegian champions, Bodo/Glimt, full of confidence, as the table toppers had earned an away draw with PSV Eindhoven and defeated FC Zurich. Arsenal has a very good record against Viking opposition, winning five out of their six encounters with Norwegian contigent.
It was evident that it was going to be a long for the visitors with their goalie, Nikita Haikin, making save after save but Arsenal grabbed the lead from a swift counter attack. The ball was won in the defense and the elegant Fabio Vieira cushioned a defense splitting pass to Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian dallied on the ball a bit before feeding Kieran Tierney that was in acres of space who wasted no time in blasting a goal-bound shot that beat Haikin hands down but the post came to his rescue. Unfortunately for the goalie and the Bodo/Glimt defense, the ball fell to Eddie Nketiah that showed great composure to guide the ball into the unguarded net. If poor technique was applied, the ball would have gone wide off the mark.
Arsenal doubled their money three minutes later after some good work from Fabio Vieira. The Portuguese maestro swung in the initial corner that was dealt with by the Bodo/Glimt defense, and the ball returned to the diminutive midfielder, allowing him a chance to take a second bite at the cherry. He launched a sumptuous cross that was headed home by Rob Holding. It was a good goal for the squad player that had gone further down the pecking order following the emergence of WIlliam Saliba. The opposition hardly had a sniff at the Arsenal rearguard, and Mikel Arteta’s men went into the break with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Arsenal picked up where they left off in the second half with more attacking play, but Matt Turner kept his concentration levels in check with a vital stop when Amahi Pellegrino got a rare foray in goal and fired a low drive that was parried well before a clearance. Arteta went on to make a triple substitution of Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka for Martinelli, Xhaka and Marquinhos. The former two needed a breather bearing in mind that they are odds on to start against Liverpool, but Marquinhos wasn’t really influential in the course of the game. Interestingly, Jesus remained on the left with Nketiah spearheading the attack, while Odegaard played in the Xhaka role behind Fabio Vieira.
There were further substitutions for the home side with Ben White replacing a visibly jaded Tierney and Reiss Nelson featuring for the first time since August 2021 as a sub for Nketiah. With some pre match information stating that Oleksandr Zinchenko didn’t train ahead of the game against Bodo/Glimt, it made sense to keep Tierney fresh. As for Nelson, I hope he latches onto the opportunities afforded to him because it looks like he’s not cut it to make the grade here at the Emirates.
The match clincher arrived late on, with Gabriel Jesus making mince meat of three defenders before feeding Vieira on a platter for his first Arsenal goal. The midfielder deserved a goal for yet another amazing display but praise would go to Jesus for showing off his sultry dribbling skills and fancy footwork to create an assist. In as much as he’s the top attacking alpha dog, his penchant for creating chances for his teammates is an amazing attribute.
The win puts the Gunners in pole position in the group with six points, and they’d be heading to Kattegat, or somewhere close to Ragnar Lothbrok’s abode for the return leg against Bodo/Glimt.
All roads lead to the clash against Liverpool this Sunday, and it’s odds on going to be tasty one. With the Gunners vanquishing their fierce rivals, Spurs, as well as securing their ninth win in 10 games so far this season, confidence is through the roof.
More on the Liverpool game in the coming days.
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