Havin' a giraffe!
FC Vorskla 0-3 Arsenal
With all eyes on the North London Derby on Sunday, Arsenal travelled to chilly Kiev for another Europa League tie against FC Vorskla. A win would see the Gunners confirm their status as group winners, though that means little in this competition which rarely gets going until much later in terms of dangerous opposition.
Unai Emery chose to take a relatively young squad with a sprinkling of first team pros, should they be needed, for a match that had been moved from its original venue in Poltava to Kiev, due to all kinds of political unrest and martial law in Ukraine. (Mr Putin going all Bond villain again whilst stroking his white cat called Vlaski).
Arsenal: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Jenkinson, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Elneny, Willock, Smith Rowe, Nketiah
The K.O. for this game was at 5.55pm, and I swerved the chance to watch it in a pub, choosing to catch-up online and watch most of the second half at home. What did I witness?
A case of Young Guns having some fun!
To say this was a breeze in the park via Easy Street would be underplaying it slightly. FC Vorskla played like your average Sunday league team after quite a few the night before, whilst Arsenal turned up in red and white, ignored the freezing temperatures and frankly looked quite embarrassed at how simples it all was! Didn't even need the Meerkat, (Mykitaryan warming the bench).
Cech was never really troubled, there were no crazy ladies keep 'em on the run and this is how the goals went in....
WHAM: Smith Rowe 10 mins. Ramsey and Nkeitah combined to get into the box, the ball falling to Smith Rowe but slightly behind him, finishing well from about 8 yards.
BAM: Ramsey 27 mins. A penalty for the 'Welsh Messi' as he went down himself after some good work from Smith Rowe. A bit soft but definitely a pen.
I AM A MAN: Joe Willock 41 mins. Elneny playing ball through, Willock taking it on, teasing the Vorskla players around him, until he reached the box before curling the ball beyond the keeper.
... and that was pretty much that, game over at half time! Vorskla had one good chance in the second half and Smith Rowe had one chalked off for offside (questionable). Unai brought on a few subs and everyone went home happy, if a little frost-bitten!
Positives: Smith Rowe again showing how much potential he has and Joe Willock putting in a good performance.
Negatives: A bit harsh but I think Nketiah will be disappointed not to get on the score sheet against such an open defence.
Didn't see enough to rate, however...
Starting 11: Wise guys realize there's danger in emotional ties. 8/10
Smith Rowe: See me, single and free no tears, no fears, what I want to be. MOM 8/10
SUBS: One, two, take a look at you death by matrimony. 7/10
Next up two matches that will go a long way to deciding how Unai Emery is really doing. Spuds at home and ManUre away! I'm beginning to feel quite sick!