Arsenal maintained their 100 per cent record in the Europa League with a comfortable 4-1 win over Molde this morning.
Joe Willock and Nicolas Pepe were on the scoresheet along with two own goals as we were relatively untroubled for most of the night. A neat curling finish from outside the box from Martin Ellingsen in the 22nd minute put the visitors ahead and it was not until late in the half when the first of Molde’s own goals went in as we headed into the break level.
After halftime, it was all Arsenal. We controlled possession and pinned Molde back in their half for the majority of the second half. The pressure eventually told when Willock who was heavily involved again whipped a low cross across goal and Sheriff Sinyan sliced his clearance into his own neat as we took our first lead of the game.
Seven minutes later Arsenal made it 3-1 thanks to a Nicolas Pepe strike near the edge of the box and Joe Willock put the finishing touches on another brilliant display with a much-deserved goal two minutes from time to complete the rout.
Overall, it was a solid enough performance from us. In the first half, Molde was defensively sound, and with their first and only shot on target in the first half they scored. Other than that, they did not offer much as we bossed the game in search of an equaliser.
Our creativity again left a bit to be desired, but it was not like we were not creating any chances at all, rather just not getting the final pass quite right as a few opportunities went begging. Eventually, our pressure took its toll, and we were able to get ahead in the game and then put the foot down to cruise to an easy win.
There was a sense from some fans that there could be a little bit of a let down after our emotional high from the Manchester United game as it was considered by many to be an easy win for us. However, this is professional football, and we were reminded of that when Molde took the lead.
After that jolt to the system, however, we clicked into gear and started to look more dangerous with our forays forward. For me, across the board, every Arsenal player was solid, without being outstanding, except for Joe Willock who in my mind was our man of the match and now deserves a chance to start in our Premier League side.
My takeaways for our match tonight:
Joe Willock is a serious talent
For me, it is back-to-back man of the match performances in the Europa League from the young Englishman tonight. His creativity, surging runs, physicality on the ball and his distribution were all first class tonight.
He finally got his goal which was well deserved and now surely has just about forced Mikel Arteta’s hand to give him some Premier League minutes. With his goal tonight, Willock became the youngest Arsenal player to score five European goals since Theo Walcott way back in 2009.
Our defence is still a work in progress
I know David Luiz and Mustafi were relatively untroubled tonight, but it was the space afforded to Molde for their goal which was poor, thanks to Leno’s clearance.
Sead Kolasinac was nowhere to be seen for the goal as there was plenty of space for Ellingsen to get his strike away. To our credit we locked it down after that and kept them at bay for the rest of the game, however, there is still some work to do.
Nicolas Pepe is nearly getting it right
Pepe had a decent enough game again tonight but there were numerous chances where he was so close yet so far. Whether that be shooting at goal or trying to go past players he just lacked that little bit of luck to get the finished product.
I feel that a constant run of games could help and then we could see him light up the Premier League.
In the end, it was a comfortable win at home for Arsenal and we made it three wins from three. Aston Villa is next up in the Premier League and we should feel confident we can keep our momentum going with another three points.