Arsenal defeated Molde at the Emirates to maintain a perfect record in the group stage of the Europa League. Arteta again introduced some expected squad changes as he tried to balance the load on the team, who will face Villa this weekend.
David Luiz returned from injury and he was joined by Mustafi in defence. Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Ceballos, Willock, Pepe and Nketiah all started the game.
Arsenal started the game positively as they twice made their way into the Molde box within the first five minutes. But they didn’t find a finish to add a goal.
As Arsenal wasted decent opportunities, it was Molde who took the lead as Leno’s erratic clearance was intercepted and the German was beaten by a shot from a distance by Martin Ellingsen.
Arsenal equalized just at the stroke of half-time as Kristoffer Haugen prodded the ball into his own goal, under pressure from Willock. Arsenal went into the lead courtesy another own goal, this time by Sheriff Sinyan just after the hour mark.
Pepe scored a wonderful goal as he shot first time off a Bukayo Saka grounded cross. Joe Willock capped a wonderful performance with a well-deserved goal as he collected a Pepe through ball and smashed it into the roof of the net.
It was a comprehensive victory for the Gunners, but Leno will be disappointed not to have secured a clean sheet here. The result also keeps Arsenal on top of the group with qualification nearly confirmed.
Author: Kshitiz Choudhary
Photo: Kieran Clarke