Arsenal came from behind to beat Molde 3-1 in the Europa League on Thursday evening.
Victories in both of their opening matches of the season presented Arsenal with a home visit of Norwegian outfit Molde, knowing victory would put them in a strong position to qualify for the knockout stages.
In a similar vein to the Dundalk clash last time out, the opening period from Arsenal appeared laboured and flat, with the visitors grabbing a surprise lead 22 minutes in. Bernd Leno‘s kick was turned over by Molde, with Martin Ellingson bending in a superb 25-yard effort beyond the German’s reach.
An added time own goal from a swift counter-attack handed Arsenal hope before the break, and it was another own goal from Sheriff Sinyan – forced by Joe Willock – that completed the turnaround.
20 minutes from time the points were wrapped up by Nicolas Pepe, who was brilliantly picked out on the edge of the area by Bukayo Saka. A calm finish wrong-footed Andreas Linde in net, and Willock capped off another fine night with a late fourth.
It wasn’t convincing (until the end), but that makes it nine points from nine available for Arsenal, who are now in a comfortable position to not only qualify for the knockout stages, but finish top of the group.
Here are your player ratings:
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – 6/10 – Was told to go long in the first half – as was a noticeable difference against Manchester United – but his attempted pick out for Nketiah was off target and resulted in the opening goal. Granted, there were mistakes following that, so Leno is not the most at blame. Was solid otherwise.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (RB) – 6/10 – Got up and down the pitch well enough but kept feeding players who were already being marked by multiple defenders. Needed more intelligence with his deliveries but took up the inside positions well. Tactically switched on but otherwise a tame outing.
Shkodran Mustafi (CB) – 5/10 – Technically inept and caught out of position too many times, Mustafi has quite a long way to go before he gets close to reaching his pre-injury form. What did anyone expect, though?
David Luiz (CB) – 5/10 – Luiz looks considerably less certain alongside Mustafi than he would do with Gabriel Magalhaes or Rob Holding, which does sort of go without saying. His long ball duties qualities were less required with Ceballos playing in the deep-lying playmaker role, although as the match wore on he was able to got involved more on the ball.
Sead Kolasinac (LB) – 4/10 – There were passes on down the left flank where Kolasinac opted, for whatever reason, against playing. Chances that would have played one of either Willian or Pepe in. The left-back knowing he’s nowhere near the Premier League starting lineup is starting to show (let’s try to forget the sitter he missed ever happened).