Unconventional Midfield Trio
Mohamed Elneny returned to the side, and while frankly having a poor game, his role as the solitary midfield pivot allowed Arsenal’s other midfielders to express themselves.
His passing was off and he was guilty of a few clumsy errors, particularly in the first half, none of which fortunately led to Rapid scoring. It’s not uncommon for him to slot into central defence to forge a back three either, although recently he’s been doing so on the right hand side as opposed to down the middle.
Forming a triangle with Mari and Shkodran Mustafi behind him, this allowed Lacazette and Maitland-Niles to push up either side of him, making him the tip of two opposing triangles.
Not being the most mobile, Lacazette would occupy those spaces and allow the play down the left flank to come through him, whether he was found by Mari or used like a backboard to help Sead Kolasinac make inroads down that wing. His aggression was also beneficial, the kind we’ve become accustomed to since he joined, suffocating the Rapid midfield and breaking down their turnovers in possession.
It does feel odd to use such a description for him.
To his right, Maitland-Niles was given license to drift from his space and attack the inside right channel. In a similar role to his midfield partner (still feels odd), Mikel Arteta granted him more scope to roam in and out of areas due to his athleticism and speed. His passing was crisp and his movement slick. Both had solid outings.