Arsenal beat Molde FK 3-0 in Thursday’s Europa League group clash.
Heading into round four of the Europa League group stage matches, Arsenal boasted a 100% record with qualification to the knockout stages within their sights as they travelled to the Aker Stadion to face Norwegian outfit Molde FK. A welcome distraction from Premier League action.
A first half with Arsenal fielding two, yes, two wingers and Alexandre Lacazette as the No. 10 (yes, that too) saw the visitors look the more dangerous. The Molde goalkeeper was never truly tested, but Reiss Nelson and Nicolas Pepe both came close.
However, Molde had by far the best opportunity that was somehow missed, as the score remained 0-0 heading into the break.
Better progression with the ball from back to front emerged from Arsenal after the break, who took the lead through Pepe’s calm finish inside the box. Joe Willock, who set up the Ivorian, then grabbed another assist as his low ball across the box was thumped home by Nelson.
No more goals were forthcoming, as Arsenal wrapped up qualification to the Europa League knockout stages.
Arsenal Player Ratings
Arsenal Goalkeeper & Defenders
Alex Runarsson (GK) – 7/10 – Looked totally unfazed in his first Arsenal match away from the Emirates, playing out from the back accurately and intelligently. Had one hairy moment at the end of the first half but was otherwise solid. Very early days but he looks like a decent, cheap addition.
Cedric Soares (RB) – 6/10 – Played a few neat through balls down the line for Nicolas Pepe which, on another day could have resulted in goals. Never going to go on mazy Hector Bellerin-esque runs as he’s mostly average, but it was an OK evening for Cedric.
Shkodran Mustafi (CB) – 7/10 – Molde’s threat came down the wide areas where crosses were allowed to make their way into the box, with Mustafi not culpable of some characteristic mistakes on Thursday. Passing was fairly neat on the night in a solid shift for the German.
David Luiz (CB) – 5/10 – Opted to go long on too many occasions where Arsenal were comfortable at the back. Could easily have fed the ball into midfield yet seemed to panic at times.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (LB) – 7/10 – Not a great first for Maitland-Niles, who was weak in his defensive one-on-one duels. Can never be overly critical of someone playing on the opposite flank – or a different role entirely if he’s still considered a central midfielder – but he improved greatly after the break.