Arsenal 4-2 Vorskla: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Gunners Ease to Win Over Ukrainians

​Arsenal began their first Europa League campaign under Unai Emery with a comfortable 4-2 victory over Ukrainian outfit Vorskla Poltava on Thursday night. 

A two-goal salvo from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well as decisive finishes from Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil ensured Emery would be able to celebrate his first evening in Europe with Arsenal with a win.

The largely empty Emirates Stadium still produced a decent atmosphere, especially whenever summer signings like Bernd Leno, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Lucas Torreira got on the ball.

Arsenal v Vorskla Poltava - UEFA Europa League - Group E

After an opening 31 minutes in which Vorskla stood firm and defended well as a team, Arsenal found the breakthrough with their first shot on target, a swift and effective counter attack finished off by the ever dangerous Aubameyang.

After the half-time interval, things spiralled for Vorskla as Welbeck headed home. Arsenal continued to take the sting out of the contest as Aubameyang clinically finished another opportunity, with ​Mesut Ozil coming off the bench to poke home a fourth for the Gunners.

As has been the case all season so far for Emery’s men, they were sloppy at the back and conceded twice late on from avoidable mistakes, much to the displeasure of Spaniard.

Check out our breakdown of the game below.


ARSENAL

Key Talking Point

The major issue for Arsene Wenger’s successor on Thursday night was the distinct lack of competition from a visiting side that finished third in the Ukrainian Premier League last season.

Anything less than a predicted landslide victory for ​Arsenal could have been embarrassing for the Gunners, but bar the two lapses in concentration at the back it was the clinical display most expected.

Worryingly for Gunners fans, their side have not managed to keep a single clean sheet in any of their competitive fixtures so far this season, a concern that Emery is undoubtedly looking to address as quickly as possible.

FBL-EUR-C3-ARSENAL-VORSKLA

Unai Emery asked for control in his press conference after Saturday’s win at Newcastle, and it something he had in abundance of on Thursday night, was exemplary control of the tie. The tireless energy from central midfield pairing Mohamed Elneny and Torreira as well as Alex Iwobi and Welbeck paid dividends as the game wore on.

Additionally, of the brief spells he had in possession, Bernd Leno looked much more assured with his capability on the ball than his goalkeeping adversary Petr Cech. 

Although as previously mentioned, against a side adequately out of their depth at this level and with an average home attendance of 3,000 in Vorskla’s stadium in Poltava, Leno wasn’t put under any kind of pressure to seriously threaten his distribution.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Leno (6), Lichtsteiner (6), Sokratis (7), Holding (6), Monreal (6), Elneny (7), Torreira (7), Mkhitaryan (7), Iwobi (9*), Welbeck (7), ​Aubameyang (8).

Substitutes: Ozil (7), Guendouzi (7), Smith-Rowe (7).


STAR MAN 

Iwobi’s industry and endeavour to prove himself to the Arsenal faithful who have at times been adverse to the young Nigerian’s efforts was phenomenal as he ran the show.

Arsenal v Vorskla Poltava - UEFA Europa League - Group E

Linking up play and contributing defensively, the nephew of Jay-Jay Okocha put on a beautiful footballing exhibition. His party tricks towards the end of his appearance also kept the crowd involved.

As a number of happy Gunners fans have pointed out, the new manager’s ideas and work ethic have seemingly fallen hand in hand with ​Iwobi, who will be looking to push forward this season and solidify a place in Emery’s first team plans.

WORST PLAYER 

Swiss right back Stephan Lichtsteiner’s error led to Vorskla’s first goal in the game. It was a mistake that may well come from a lack in game time so far this season, with Hector Bellerin still favoured on the right side of Emery’s first XI backline.

However, with the experience that Lichtsteiner has to offer, it would be a safe bet in thinking this type of error will not be a mainstay in his performances.


Looking Ahead

This game was the first of four successive home fixtures in all competitions for Arsenal, with the next fixture being a considerably more difficult test against an Everton side looking to rebound from their first loss of the season against West Ham.

Considering Unai Emery’s well documented and unparalleled Europa League success, Arsenal will be hoping for more of the same in Europe’s perceived B competition, with trips to Qarabag FK and Sporting CP on the horizon for the red side of north London.

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8 Young Players to Watch in This Season’s Europa League Group Stages

The Europa League may be the poor cousin of the Champions League, but this competition has been a proving ground for many up-and-coming prospects down the years. This was where Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford honed their skills before becoming stars for club and country.

Several of the young players on this list are already first team regulars, but they’ll be hoping that the Europa League can be their ticket to the Champions League – either with their current clubs, or elsewhere.

Keep an eye on these eight youngsters who could rip up the group stages.

1. Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen)

If you support Liverpool or Chelsea, chances are you’ve already checked out numerous YouTube compilations of Leon Bailey after he was linked with a Premier League move during the summer. His pace and ability to play on either wing would make him an ideal signing for any side.

Bailey has a good record in the Europa League, having scored seven in 12 games in this competition during his time at Genk. After a poor start to the season, Bailey must be thinking that the Europa League can be his shop window to ensure that he is playing Champions League football next season, even if Leverkusen aren’t.

2. Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt)

A striker who has already well and truly caught the eye in Germany will now get the chance to show his potential on the European stage. Luka Jovic scored on his Eintracht Frankfurt debut last season and went on to score 8 Bundesliga goals during the campaign.

A director at Red Star Belgrade, where Jovic started his career, claimed: “Jović will become the best striker in Europe.” 

It’s early days for statements like that, but the Serbian definitely has the potential to help the German Cup winners go deep into this competition.

3. Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal)

You’ve already had the chance to check out Arsenal’s big-haired Frenchman in the Premier League, but adapting to the English game is difficult. He struggled against Newcastle on Saturday and only after he was replaced by Lucas Torreira did Arsenal take control of the game.

The Europa League should provide a slower pace for Guendouzi to show what he can do while he gets acquainted with Unai Emery’s style of play. 

The 19-year-old has the enthusiasm and the raw talent to be a success, and he will be able to prove it in a relatively easy group.

4. Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)

At the tender age of 19, Dayot Upamecano is already approaching a century of senior club appearances. He was a European regular for RB Leipzig last season and two fixtures against Celtic this year will give British audiences a chance to check out the imposing French centre back.

Strong in the tackle, composed on the ball and intelligent in his reading of the game, Upamecano has everything in his arsenal to become a world-class defender as he matures. France are spoiled for options at centre back, but it surely won’t be too much longer until Upamecano represents Les Bleus at senior level.

5. Hannes Wolf (Red Bull Salzburg)

Hannes Wolf was a peripheral figure during Salzburg’s run to the Europa League semi finals last season, but you would fancy him to play a much more important role if the Austrians are to repeat that journey again.

After honing his trade in the Austrian second division, Wolf had a big impact on his return to Salzburg, scoring 12 goals in all competitions last season. A goal and an assist in the Austrian Bundesliga on Saturday will stand him in good stead ahead of Salzburg’s Group B opener against RB Leipzig.

6. Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)

Everyone’s talking about Leon Bailey, but his younger teammate Kai Havertz is well worth watching too. Havertz broke into the Leverkusen team at the age of 17, but never let it be said that footballers don’t have to make sacrifices – he missed a Champions League knockout tie because he was revising for school exams!

Now 19, Havertz became the youngest player to reach a half-century of Bundesliga appearances last season, and recently made his international debut in Germany’s friendly against Peru earlier this month. His style has been compared to that of Mesut Ozil, who Havertz himself has spoken of as a role model.

7. Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea)

With Chelsea facing long trips to Greece, Hungary and Belarus, Maurizio Sarri may see the Europa League as a chance to rest some first team regulars and blood young talent. After his dominant performance for Wales against Ireland in the recent international break, Ethan Ampadu must be pushing for his first European start.

Ampadu proved himself against senior teams as Chelsea’s academy side reached the semi finals of the EFL Trophy last season. Chelsea showed their faith in Ampadu with a new five-year contract this week but it’s time to start rewarding him with minutes on the pitch.

8. Sander Berge (Genk)

Genk have an outstanding record when it comes to developing young players, as Kevin De Bruyne, Kalidou Koulibaly and Thibaut Courtois can all testify. Sander Berge is the cream of the current crop, and although injuries slowed his progress last season, this could be the year when he proves what all the hype is about.

Berge stands 6ft 5in tall but doesn’t just rely on his physicality. He’s a good technical player with the ball at his feet, and from his deep-lying midfield role he specialises in breaking up opposition moves and launching counter-attacks. 

Defensive midfielders are worth their weight in gold in modern football, and Berge looks like he could be a really useful player.

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Former Gunners Star Charlie Nicholas Makes Arsenal Prediction for Europa League Clash

Former Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas ​has given his predictions for the Gunners in their upcoming Thursday Europa League clash against Ukrainian side Vorskla Poltava. 

The Scottish pundit doesn’t evidently believes that Arsenal will struggle to keep a clean sheet against their opponents, but remains optimistic that the side will be able to pull off a narrow win. 

Arsenal are tipped as the hot favourites to win the Europa League clash, while manager Unai Emery is expected to ring the changes, including a start for new goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Gillette Soccer Saturday Live with Jeff Stelling

Speaking to ​Sky Sports, Nicholas said: “I would expect ​Arsenal to be a bit like ​Chelsea; they will want to start the group well and with a win.

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I imagine there will be a lot of changes with the likes of Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan coming in, so it will still be a strong enough team for me to expect Arsenal to win this.

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The way Arsenal play they don’t do clean sheets, so I am going to go for a 2-1 win and Mkhitaryan to score first.”


Vorskla Poltava managed a third-placed finish in Ukraine’s top flight last season, though this is their first time in the Europa League group stages since 2011. On the flip side, Arsenal managed to make it to the semi-final last year, disappointingly losing out to Atletico Madrid 2-1 on aggregate. 

​The Gunners will be hoping Nicholas’ comments ring true, as Unai Emery has already hailed the European competition the “most important” after the ​Champions League and it may well be their best chance at silverware in 2018/19.

Arsenal’s clash kicks off at 8pm on Thursday at the Emirates Stadium.

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Free-to-play quizzes and football brain teasers

You’re now able to enjoy specialised games on any topic as a way of simply passing the time. These come in many forms, with quizzes available to identify a few statistics-based answers and brain teasers about football which really test your knowledge on the sport. Activities such as these aren’t likely to be the first thing you’d consider when you’re looking for a football tip or build-up for a key football fixture, but they’re created with a view to occupying your time when you’ve got an hour free or for those who are looking to speed up a tiresome train journey.

As the internet is a hub for placing bets or finding football tips, it’s also just as useful when it comes to tracking down an endless array of these football brain teasers. You’ll find a wide selection just by searching the web and there’s more choice than you might realise, with sports betting websites like Oddschanger offering out quizzes to their followers and bookmakers even getting in on the action with their own games which reward the winner with a massive cash prize.

Popular free-to-play football games include:

Starting XI, Statistic and Picture Quizzes

If you want proper football brain teasers that really stretch your knowledge for the sport, you’ll find plenty online. This not only includes being able to identify statistics-based quizzes surfacing on goalscorers, winning teams and other specified results but also having to work out a footballer, team or stadium with only a small section of a picture to guess from.

Another option is Starting XI quizzes, which are used to identify every single player for teams that were memorable for all of the right or wrong reasons in past years. This could be the Champions League finalists from a chosen season, where you need to name all twenty-two starting players and any used substitutes, with the time-limit giving you a chance to finish but making it into a difficult challenge.

Sky Bet Super 6

Coming as one of the most enjoyable free-to-play football brain teasers on the market, the Soccer Saturday Super 6 allows SkyBet customers to win anywhere between £5,000 and £1 million based on the prediction of six chosen scorelines. They will arrange this so there is at least one new gameweek every single week and you’ll be able to alter your selections after making them up to a certain deadline, which gives you the option of making your entry stronger if you change your mind over one of the matches.

Although this might sound simple, it’s actually very difficult to get every scoreline 100% correct, as just one goal will ruin your chances of winning. The Sky Bet Super 6 also has a Golden Goal option, which is a way of judging when the first goal is scored throughout all six fixtures and works as a tie-breaker in the event of a draw. If nobody is capable of getting all six correct, a leaderboard ranks everyone’s attempts and will reward the person who came the closest with a £5,000 prize.

Mesut Ozil’s Agent Blasts German Trio Following the Arsenal Attacker’s International Retirement

​Mesut Ozil’s agent Erkut Sogut has finally broken his silence and has spoken out against the criticism his player received in the wake of his international retirement, specifically calling out star trio Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and Toni Kroos.

​Arsenal midfielder Ozil announced his retirement from international football after Germany’s dreadful defence of their World Cup trophy this summer, citing ‘racism and disrespect’ as the reasons for making this decision.

A number of former national teammates criticised both the decision and statement but his agent has described German captain Neuer, forward Muller and midfielder Kroos as ‘naive or scheming’.

Korea Republic v Germany: Group F - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

​​Sogut, speaking to German magazine 11Freuende (quoted by ​Mail Onine), said: ‘Neuer indirectly accused Mesut of not having worn the German jersey with pride. This is unacceptable.

“Muller did not understand the whole discussion. And Kroos, as a seasoned national team player, should explain what he means by ‘nonsense.'”

The agent went on to add that the remarks by the trio were “more than disappointing – and also out of place. There are only two explanations: they are either naive or scheming.”

GERMANY-FBL-WC-2018-GER-RETURN

It is the first time Ozil’s agent has spoken publicly on the matter since the photo with the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was taken back in May.

The playmaker and ​Man City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan found themselves entangled in controversy following the photo with Erdogan, with the pair subsequently booed by their home fans and lambasted by German media outlets.

After their early World Cup exit, Ozil released a statement in which he announced his retirement from international football, and accused the German Football Association of racism due to his Turkish roots. 

Germany v France - UEFA Nations League A

While there was support for Ozil’s statement, a number of German internationals hit out at the Arsenal attacker’s comments. 

​Real Madrid midfielder Kroos told German newspaper Bild: “Basically Mesut is a deserved international and as a player he deserved a better departure. But the way he resigned was not in order.

”I think he knows very well that racism within the national team and the DFB does not exist.”

FC Bayern Muenchen v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga

Other players and international manager Joachim Low agreed that there was no racism within the team, and, in defence of the Gunners player, highlighted Ozil in pinpointing the football association and wider society, rather than his teammates.

Sogut however added: “Low defends himself against an accusation that has never actually been made: Mesut has not been racially abused from within the team but from the midst of German society. The German football association should have been more protective in this case.”

Germany Training Session And Press Conference

The agent has also defended his client’s photo with Erdogan, reiterating that it was a matter of respect and adding that there was no discussion with him about whether to meet the president or not.

“Mesut did not make any mistakes. It is just a matter of respect and courtesy to agree to meet the president of Turkey when he requests it. The two of them have met regularly over the past eight years. It has never been a problem before for the German public.

“Should we tell Mesut: ‘You cannot meet with the president – but maybe in two months’ time?’ That really does not make any sense.

“Why should I [stop him meeting the president]? Mesut is old enough, he knows what he is doing. And he has known the president far longer than he knows me.”

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