Emery demands more from his players after Arsenal’s opening Europa League victory
20 September, 2018 — By By Paul Cowling
Europa League Group E
ARSENAL 4 (Aubameyang 32, 56, Welbeck 48, Ozil 74)
VORSKLA POLTAVA 2 (Chesnakov 76, Sharpar 90+4)
UNAI Emery watched his Arsenal side win their opening Europa League match tonight (Thursday), and instantly demanded more from his players.
The Gunners made light work of Vorskla Poltava at the Emirates Stadium, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagging a brace, and one each from Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil.
Far from being delighted, however, Emery, who won the Europa League on three consecutive occasions with Sevilla, spoke of his “disappointment” after the match.
“Conceding two late goals is our disappointment,” said the Spaniard. “We need to continue to improve in this because the last minute at Newcastle, and again today, in the last 20 minutes, there were goals conceded.
“Our challenge is to be competitive for 90 minutes each match and it is one thing to improve.”
Emery admitted that he was pleased to have begun his first European campaign at Arsenal with a victory in front of the home fans.
“We are happy because the first match with our supporters is very important to win and, also, at the beginning of this competition, to take the confidence and to take the first victories,” he added.
“I thought the first 60 minutes were very good, there was good progression in the match and imposing our ideas against theirs. With the four goals, we are thinking in a good moment but we want to be competitive over 90 minutes.
“We are speaking before each match to take a mentality of ‘don’t concede chances easily’. I think today is a good opportunity for not accepting goals, but the last 30 minutes, we needed to be better.”
As expected, Emery made wholesale changes to the side that started the Premier League win at Newcastle on Saturday. In came new signings Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira and the vastly experienced Stephan Lichtsteiner for their first competitive starts of the season.
A sparse Emirates crowd had little to get excited about in the opening half an hour, with Arsenal creating little to lift them off their seats.
That all changed on 32 minutes when a sweeping move led to Alex Iwobi picking out Aubameyang, whose scuffed finish nestled in the back of the net.
As the first half neared its completion, Aubameyang weaved in and out of the Vorskla defence, before curling in a shot that spun off the edge of the right hand post.
Seconds later Henrikh Mkhitaryan brought a camera save out of visiting keeper, Bohdan Shust, as Arsenal finished the half on a high.
The Gunners charged out of the blocks at the start of the second half, adding a second within three minutes of the restart when Mkhitaryan whipped in a cross for Danny Welbeck, who somewhat casually headed the ball home.
After such a drab start, Arsenal were finally threatening to overwhelm their Ukrainian visitors. And it was Mkhitaryan doing the damage – this time laying the ball on for Aubameyang, who put away his second with aplomb.
It was Aubameyang’s last action of the night, as he made way for Mesut Ozil. Emery made a couple of other substitutions – bringing on Matteo Guendouzi for Torreira and Emile Smith-Rowe for Iwobi.
Torreira went off to rapturous applause after a shining and combative debut at the heart of the Arsenal midfield, with a high pass completion rate and a sliding tackle with his head!
The Gunners added a fourth on 74 minutes when Ozil nonchalantly swept home from close-range.
But then two minutes later, Vorskla gave their small band of travelling fans, something to shout about, when Volodymyr Chesnakov fired home past Leno.
The German keeper will have been fuming not to have kept a clean sheet after having had so little to do up until then.
In the end it was a good job that this wasn’t an away-goal knockout game, as out of nothing, and with literally the last kick of the game, Vorskla added a second when Vyacheslav Sharpar thumped home a second for the visitors.
ARSENAL: Leno; Lichsteiner, Holding, Sokratis, Monreal; Torreira (Guendouzi, 57), Mkhitaryan, Elneny; Iwobi (Smith-Rowe, 70), Aubameyang (Ozil, 58), Welbeck
Subs not used: Martinez, Bellerin, Lacazette, Nketiah
VORSKLA POLTAVA: Shust; Perduta, Dallku, Chesnakov, Artur; Kobakhidzer (Sergiychuk, 77), Kravchenko (Sklyar, 70), Sharpar, Rebenok; Kulach (Mores da Cruzat, 75); Kolomoets
Subs not used: Tkachenko, Giorgadze, Mysyk, Sakiv