A frustrating night it was for the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium, in their Europa League encounter against Red Star Belgrade. Frustrating in terms of the performance of the players though, the Gunners sealed qualification into the next round of 32 where we are expectant of Atletico Madrid and Borrusia Dortmund; as they’ve performed abysmally in this Uefa Champions League campaign. By the way, how is Francis Coquelin still an Arsenal player in 2017?
The Gunners started with the same lineup in their League Cup against Norwich City and young Matt Macey was making his European debut for the Gunners. The lineup consisted of Matt Macey, Mathieu Debuchy, Mohamed Elneny, Rob Holding, Reiss Nelson, Francis Coquelin, Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere.
The Gunners were the ones who started brightly and almost got themselves ahead as early as the 9th minute. An intelligent move from Maitland-Niles as he drove forward, charging into the opposition penalty area; playing a square pass to Olivier Giroud who struck the ball well but saw his effort denied a certain goal as the leg of the opposition player prevented the ball from going in.
As expected, Arsenal dominated the ball but as the half progressed the visitors grew into the game and drew two fine saves from Matt Macey. Macey looks a potential starter in time to come for the Gunners and did brilliantly well by tipping Vujadin Savic’s header onto the crossbar which seemed to be going in the Arsenal goal.
Joe Willock had a fine display yesterday, building up his experience though he was loose with his final touches on the ball as he showed signs of progressing into a proper CM. He disposed the ball off the opposition player, showing his strength and created half an opening for Giroud but the Frenchman couldn’t find the right balance as he attempted to lob the goalie but was quickly closed down by the opposition goalkeeper.
The best effort of the game came in the closing stage of the first half for Red Star Belgrade as through ball played in the strides Boakye was able to displace our back three, leaving the opposition striker one-on-one with Macey but the striker was wasteful with his effort and couldn’t force a save from Macey as he spurned his chance off target.
In the 65th minute of play, everyone thought the defining moment had come through “England’s Golden boy” Jack Wilshere. Wilshere stormed into the area, took the ball off Ainsley Maitland-Niles and chipped towards goal, beating the goalkeeper but only for Le Tallec to clear the ball to safety.
Late in the second half, Boakye again came close to scoring for his team but just like the first, he wasted his effort. Although this effort wasn’t as open as the one in the first, I’m sure he’d wake up this morning ruing his missed efforts.
The draw was enough for Arsenal to qualify for the next round of the Europa with two games to spare, as the top spot in the group is theirs for the taking. Need I mention Coquelin was appalling in this match, making silly mistakes and couldn’t make a proper pass to a player just a few meters away.