Subscribe to receive Miguel Delaney’s Reading the Game newsletter for free, directly to your email.
Subscribe to Miguel Delaney’s weekly newsletter at no cost.
After facing criticism, Arsenal achieved an easy victory and now have the opportunity to play more freely in the Champions League. The home team desperately needed this win after losing two consecutive games in the Carabao Cup and Premier League. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli’s impressive performances led the way, allowing Mikel Arteta to feel some relief. The Gunners comfortably defeated a weak Sevilla team, who may struggle to qualify for the Europa League. This win also puts Arsenal on track to advance to the last-16.
This past week has been a challenging one for Arsenal, however, Saka and Martinelli were able to bring Arteta’s team back to life. Despite complaints about VAR, injuries, and a decrease in form among some players, Saka and Martinelli stood out with their unstoppable performances. In the recent 1-0 defeat against Newcastle, the two wingers were closely marked and struggled to make an impact. However, in their next game at the Emirates, they were able to break free from their opponents’ tight defense. Sevilla’s full-backs Juanlu and Kike Salas had a tough time trying to contain them.
Saka’s performance was impressive, despite being substituted late due to a rough landing that may prevent him from being selected for England’s squad announcement on Thursday afternoon. However, Arteta seemed unconcerned about the injury when asked about it later. He also mentioned that Saka is becoming accustomed to opposing teams’ physical tactics to stop him. This was evident once again in Saka’s fourth Champions League appearance, where he delivered yet another outstanding performance.
Saka received a deserved ovation as he left the match early, allowing him to score Arsenal’s second goal with a composed shot into the corner. This ended his six-game goal drought. Saka also assisted Leandro Trossard’s opening goal and his movement helped set up Jorginho’s impressive pass that broke through Sevilla’s defense. Sevilla attempted to stop Saka with four fouls in the first 17 minutes, but his determination paid off as he evaded Salas and passed to Trossard for an easy finish.
Martinelli was equally disruptive on the other side, using his agility and skill to get past Juanlu and reach the byline multiple times. He created Saka’s goal by making a strategic run to receive Zinchenko’s throw-in near the halfway line. With fast-paced counterattack, Martinelli passed to Saka who took advantage of Adria Pedrosa’s inexperience and easily scored after cutting inside.
Saka ultimately emerged victorious as Sevilla’s initial attempt to contain him involved multiple fouls from Gudelj and Salas. By the second half, Sevilla had given up and were unable to stop Saka. Trossard’s goal eased the pressure for Arsenal and Saka continued to dominate after halftime, initiating a counterattack that led to Havertz’s goal. Martinelli then responded by skillfully maneuvering past Juanlu and delivering a cross to the back post, but Havertz was unable to capitalize. Shortly after, Havertz nearly redeemed himself with a well-struck left-footed shot that narrowly missed the target, making up for his earlier missed opportunity in the opening minute when he was left unmarked at the back post.
From the beginning to the end, this was not a competition. The opposing team did not offer much resistance or a chance for a comeback. Arsenal had to work hard for their 2-1 victory in Spain two weeks ago, but the LaLiga team could not replicate the same level of determination in the second match. With only one win in their last nine games, they are not living up to their title as last season’s Europa League champions and were met with boos from their own supporters in the away section. Upon his return to North London, former Tottenham player Erik Lamela’s only notable moment was being pushed off the ball by Declan Rice, which led to Arsenal’s first goal.
Sevilla only faced one threatening situation in each half, but none of them required David Raya to make a save. In the first half, William Saliba expertly stole the ball from Pedrosa, who had a chance to score. It seemed that Saliba had dozed off during half time when he was easily pushed aside by Youssef En-Nesyri. However, En-Nesyri hesitated and failed to make a shot or pass when Raya came off his line.
Arsenal maintained a comfortable lead throughout the match. Zinchenko’s strong volley forced goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic to make a save, but Arsenal did not have to push themselves too hard, except for Saka and Martinelli who continued to play with high intensity. Saka’s departure due to a potential injury from challenging for a high ball will be a concern for both Arteta and Southgate, but after a tough week that included a loss in the Carabao Cup and criticism from Newcastle, Arteta will be relieved to have a straightforward game. They are close to securing their spot in the last-16, despite PSV’s win over Lens delaying the confirmation.