Eddie Nketiah gave away a penalty and scored the winner as Arsenal got their Europa League campaign off to a winning start at Zurich on Thursday night.
Brazilian youngster Marquinhos netted his first goal for the Gunners by converting Nketiah’s cross from the left before the English striker brought down Fidan Aliti, allowing Mirlind Kryeziu to grab an equaliser on the stroke of half time.
However, the all-action Nketiah would make amends just after the hour mark, heading in Marquinhos’ cross at the back post to earn the visitors all three points in Group A.
Arsenal enjoyed mountains of possession in Switzerland and their rapid front three of Marquinhos, Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli stretched the hosts’ defence during the early phases.
Their pressure eventually told when Nketiah skipped away down the left and crossed for Marquinhos to finish off a fast breakaway move.
Fabio Vieira and Granit Xhaka both looked sharp in midfield, the former on his first Arsenal start, but it was a self-inflicted wound which allowed Zurich back into the contest.
Arsenal failed to clear a cross and Nketiah was in the wrong place at the wrong time, getting tangled up with Aliti to allow Kryeziu to beat Matt Turner from the penalty spot.
That strike didn’t deter the visitors, who continued to look dangerous at the start of the second half as attempts from Martinelli and Nketiah were blocked or sailed adrift.
However, Mikel Arteta’s side grabbed the winner they deserved in the 62nd minute as Nketiah and Marquinhos again combined. The Brazilian whipped a ball towards the back post where Nketiah was waiting, and the 23-year-old rose highest at the back post to head in.
GK: Matt Turner – 6/10 – Just the two saves to make throughout the night. One wobbly moment with the ball at his feet. Sent the wrong way for the penalty.
RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 7/10 – Advanced up the right and picked up some dangerous positions. Elegant and comfortable with the ball.
CB: Rob Holding – 5/10 – Shaky throughout, giving away one especially poor free kick near full time. One crucial clearance.
CB: Gabriel – 5/10 – Played his goalkeeper into trouble early on. Not his best performance but got the job done. Made a couple of interceptions.
LB: Kieran Tierney – 7/10 – Got forward well, registering a couple of shots on target, and didn’t have too much difficulty in defence.
CM: Fabio Vieira – 8/10 – An exciting start. Played the ball through before Marquinhos’ opener and enjoyed some eye-catching twists and turns to open up space.
CM: Albert Sambi Lokonga – 6/10 – Great pass for Vieira to run through and shoot over. Lost control at times.
CM: Granit Xhaka – 7/10 – Forced a good save with a shot from the edge of the box. Dominant performance helped Arsenal run the midfield.
RW: Marquinhos – 9/10 – Scored his first Arsenal goal, cooly lifting his finish into the top corner. Returned the favour to Nketiah later with a great cross to the back stick.
ST: Eddie Nketiah – 8/10 – Great run out wide to square for Marquinhos. Clumsy hack in the wrong box gave Zurich their penalty and equaliser. Header at the back post eventually earned also all three points.
LW: Gabriel Martinelli – 7/10 – Looked electric with the ball and could have been involved in the goals on another day.
SUB: Oleksandr Zinchenko (69′ for Tierney) – 6/10
SUB: Bukayo Saka (69′ for Marquinhos) – 6/10
SUB: Martin Odegaard (69′ for Vieira) – 6/10
SUB: Gabriel Jesus (78′ for Nketiah) – N/A
Manager: Mikel Arteta – 7/10 – Selected a strong core and exciting frontline which eventually paid off. Wouldn’t have liked the penalty but a good start to the Europa League secured.
Player of the Match: Marquinhos
Jorghino insists Italy’s rebuild has ‘already begun’ following win over England
Jorginho has spoken positively about the Italian national team’s future following their victory over England, using a new formation.
Italy saw off England in a 1-0 victory in matchday five of the 2022/23 Nations League group stages and did so using a 3-5-2 system, earning a deserved win after a difficult period following their Euro 2020 triumph.
Victory over the Three Lions gives Italy an outside chance of still making the Nations League finals in 2023 as they face group leaders Hungary in the final matchday, with a win enough to see them move into top spot.
Speaking to media ahead of the vital clash, Jorginho was very confident about his national team’s new approach: “After everything that happened, it was a struggle, but the game against England really fired us up and gave us more motivation. I try to learn from past mistakes and disappointment, which is also what the coach is passing on to the players he calls up.
“I felt something different in that game and I think the reconstruction process has already begun. Now we’ve got to continue along this path,” and added, discussing the tactical tweaks: “It’s good to have an alternative that we can change to during the game or during a tournament.
“Some of our players have 4-3-3 at club level, others with three defenders, so I think this system is certainly doable. It’s interesting for the present and the future, I got along well with it.”
The Chelsea midfielder explained that victory over England has been crucial for the squad heading into the final matchday: “We have this opportunity to win the group and it’s up to us to take it.
“Hungary have proved themselves to be tough opponents and they’ll have passionate support from the crowd tomorrow.”
Pierre-Emerick discusses Thomas Tuchel sacking & opens up on early career struggles
Forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has admitted it was ‘sad’ to see Thomas Tuchel sacked by Chelsea.
Aubameyang left Barcelona after only signing in January of this year to return to the Premier League with Chelsea, having left Arsenal at the beginning of the year following disciplinary issues.
The move saw him reunite with Tuchel, who he thrived under while the pair worked together at Borussia Dortmund.
However, Tuchel was sacked in September, just weeks after the transfer window had shut and the 33-year-old had sealed his transfer to Stamford Bridge.
Speaking to Chelsea’s official YouTube channel, Aubameyang opened up: “It’s obviously sad when someone leaves the club and obviously, I only saw him for a few days. But this is football and when you play football you have to adapt quickly and in some moments in the season, this can happen.
“I think he [Tuchel] was a bit frustrated and sad. Obviously, I will try to talk to him as soon as possible,” he added, before giving his verdict on Tuchel’s replacement Graham Potter:
“I think he [Potter] is a really positive person and a great character. We will try to learn with him and to win as soon as possible. I think his ideas are very clear so I think it’s going to be easy. It takes time to adapt to each other but I think it’s going to be ok.”
Aubameyang also touched on the earlier years of his career during the interview and confessed how he had been through a lot of ‘bad moments’ unrelated to injuries: “I was okay but at the beginning of my career everyone was talking about me as a sprinter only.
“This hurts sometimes because you know where you’ve come from, you know you went through a lot of stuff and you always try your best and some people, even from your club say you’re not good at playing football.”
He praised current Paris Saint-Germain manager Christophe Galtier for lighting a fire beneath him during their time together at St-Etienne, stating: “When I arrived in Saint-Etienne, I was happy because Christophe Galtier gave me confidence and it changed everything in my career. This is where I started scoring goals.”
Gareth Taylor insists Man City’s tough WSL start has still offered ‘something to build on’
Gareth Taylor has insisted Manchester City’s performances have provided ‘something to build on’ despite suffering a pair of defeats in their opening two fixtures of the 2022/23 WSL campaign.
City have gone through a summer of high squad turnover, with seven new arrivals and eight permanent exits, and have begun the new season with a surprise 4-3 loss to Aston Villa and a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea.
“It’s not great but it is what it is,” said Taylor. “We’ve had two away games, two tough away games. We’ve gone to Villa who are a new team and have done tremendously well on the day, and coming here was always going to be difficult.
“They don’t really give much away, Chelsea – they lost last week, something was going to give today but I think the reaction and the levels that we showed today was really impressive and gives us something to build on.”
City endured a similarly tough start to last season after contending with an injury crisis, but made up ground with a stunning second half of the campaign to secure a Champions League spot at the expense of rivals Manchester United.
Taylor admitted the lack of margin for error due to the size of the WSL – with just 12 teams and 22 games – makes early slip ups even more costly.
“That’s the nature of the league,” the City boss added. “I’ve always been negative about that. 22 games is nothing. It is what it is. Unless teams keep beating each other, you can probably get away with maybe four defeats in a season and still win the league.
“We can’t do much about that; the rules are the rules, the teams are the teams. It wasn’t hard last season when we won 13 on the bounce – it was actually a lot easier when we had all of our players fit.
“Our situation now is slightly different to what we had last season – it’s not injuries, it’s just a new team and new players to bed in. These will be really good players and this will be a really good team. Unfortunately at the moment we’ve had a couple of defeats which are tough to take but I think there were really positive signs there today.”
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