Arsenal played out a comfortable but lacklustre 1-0 victory over Qarabag on Thursday, in the dead rubber game at the end of the Europa League group stage.
Neither team had anything to play for in midweek, with Arsenal already qualified for the knockout stages as group winners and Qarabag already out of the competition. However, there was still pride on the line, the chance to keep Unai Emery’s unbeaten run going, and an opportunity for some young/returning players to impress.
Alexandre Lacazette gave the team an early lead, and it remained 1-0 for the rest of the 90 minutes. Let’s have a look at our individual player ratings for the performance.
Joe Willock 7
This wasn’t quite as impressive as Willock’s goalscoring performance in Ukraine, but he did do a lot of hard work for the team defensively. Only Eddie Nketiah matched his game-high five tackles, no one won as many aerials, and the midfielder played a few nice passes too. He did lose the ball and get dribbled past on a couple of occasions though.
Mohamed Elneny 6.5
Elneny didn’t make any major mistakes, but he was guilty of playing it a bit too safe once again. When playing against the likes of Qarabag, he has to be looking for a killer pass more often than he does. Either that or step up his defensive duties significantly, so his midfield partner can feel free to move up the pitch and do it for him.
No one saw the ball more than Elneny, and his passing was very accurate, it just never seemed to lead to anything.
Mesut Özil 8
Özil was back in the team for the first time in a couple of weeks, and he created chances for fun as usual. His four key passes totalled three more than anyone else on the pitch. Most importantly, one of those opportunities resulted in a goal for Alexandre Lacazette.
Despite creating more than anyone else in the squad this season, this was only the German’s second assist of the campaign. Hopefully, many more will follow now. Özil also had a number of nice dribbles, with his trademark shoulder drop catching Qarabag players out on a few occasions.
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