Mikel Arteta’s standout young talent has faced some mild criticism recently, but he responded in impressive fashion on Wednesday evening.
Bukayo Saka is back in action! After a relatively quiet period by his own exceptional standards, failing to score or assist in Arsenal’s last three games, the winger led the Gunners to a comfortable 2-0 victory over a struggling Sevilla side in the Champions League.
The Spanish team started the match with a physical approach, frequently resorting to niggly fouls against Arsenal’s forwards. However, this did not hinder Jorginho from slicing through their defense with a magnificent pass in the first half. Saka, in his marauding style, played it back to Leandro Trossard, who calmly tapped it into the net.
Later in the game, the 22-year-old showcased his individual brilliance. Just after the hour mark, he left Adria Pedrosa bewildered with a skillful move in the box before calmly slotting the ball into the far corner. From that point on, the outcome of the match was never in doubt. Unfortunately, the only sour note of the evening was Saka limping off just before the end due to an awkward landing. However, Arteta expressed relief as it didn’t appear to be a serious ιnjury.
The Gunners were uttеrly dominant in the match, to the extent that Sevilla failed to register a single shot on goal until second-half stoppage time. Although Arsenal’s progression to the knockout stages is not yet officially confirmed, the chances of them slipping up from this point forward would require a sequence of unforeseen calamities. Additionally, with PSV defeating Lens, the Gunners’ prospects of advancing further in the competition appear even more promising.
Goalkeeper & Defence
David Raya (6/10):
Managed to avoid any further controversy, though that had a lot to do with Sevilla failing to muster a shot on goal.
Ben White (7/10):
Very easy night defensively. Bent one effort over the bar in the opening period.
William Saliba (8/10):
So solid. Made one outstanding tackle in the first half that earned him a stadium-wide rendition of his tequila-inspired terrace chant.
Not as impressive as his centre-back partner in his defending and distribution, but still eminently comfortable.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (6/10):
Played the inverted full-back role pretty effectively before being hooked at the break.
Kai Havertz (5/10):
Missed a sitter inside the first minute which set the tone for a pretty terrible first half. Improved after the break somewhat, but performance will have done little to silence his critics.
His line-splitting through ball helped create Trossard’s opener. Generally very tidy performance.
Declan Rice (6/10):
Asked to play in a more-advanced position again in the absence of Martin Odegaard. He did okay, though lacked guile – so don’t expect the role change to be permanent.
Bukayo Saka (8/10):
Sevilla tried to kιck him out of the game but he responded with a pinpoint assist and a goal. Limped off at the end, but he should be okay.
Leandro Trossard (7/10):
Took his chance well and helped knit things together in the final third. Likely ahead of Eddie Nketiah in the pecking order now.
Gabriel Martinelli (8/10):
Sevilla couldn’t live with him in the first half. Got his reward after the break when he assisted Saka’s goal.