Home Champions League Arsenal closes in on a Champions League knockout stage berth.

Arsenal closes in on a Champions League knockout stage berth.

by Gabriele Marcotti
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With a convincing 2-0 victory over Sevilla in the fourth matchday, Arsenal is just one point away from securing a spot in the Champions League knockout stage.

At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal was without several key players like Martin Odegaard, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Jesus, Emile Smith Rowe, and Thomas Partey due to injuries.

As a result, manager Mikel Arteta pushed Leandro Trossard to play as the forward, with Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli as the wingers. The midfield featured Kai Havertz, Jorginho, and Declan Rice. The home team also had to include several young players on the substitutes’ list, including 21-year-old goalkeeper Karl Jakob Hein, 18-year-old winger Amario Cozier-Duberry, and 19-year-old forward Charles Sagoe Jr.

Despite missing several key players, Arsenal’s attack wasn’t explosive, but they completely controlled the game with 62% possession and 11 shots, three of which were on target. In contrast, Sevilla only managed a single shot, coming in the 97th minute from outside the Arsenal penalty area, a shot by Mariano Diaz that went straight to goalkeeper David Raya. The visiting team only entered the Arsenal penalty area twice throughout the match.

Arsenal created their first chance in the 56th second. From a left-wing corner taken by Martinelli, Havertz was put in a good position to head the ball but sent it wide. Seven minutes later, defender Gabriel headed inaccurately from a set-piece situation again.

The difference was made in the 29th minute when Jorginho played a through ball to tear apart Sevilla’s defense to find Saka on the right wing. The English midfielder made a delightful assist, allowing Trossard to slot the ball with his right foot past goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic. It was Trossard’s fifth goal for Arsenal across all competitions this season, and all of them were set up by Saka – the best assist partnership in the Premier League this season.

With Sevilla showing no resistance, Arsenal played fluidly and sealed the game in the 64th minute. Starting from a pass by Martinelli, Saka accelerated into the penalty area, bypassed Pedrosa, and then used his preferred left foot to strike the ball into the far corner.

Thanks to this situation, Saka became the first Arsenal player to both score and assist in two consecutive Champions League home games since Cesc Fabregas did it against Sevilla and Slavia Prague in the 2007-2008 season. Previously, Saka had contributed one goal and one assist in Trossard’s goal in the 4-0 win against PSV. However, Saka leaving the field twice due to injury and being substituted in the second half will cause concern for Arsenal fans.

Saka skillfully dribbled past Sevilla’s defenders before curling a shot into the far corner to seal Arsenal’s 2-0 victory.

In the remaining match in Group H, PSV surprisingly defeated Lens with a single goal from forward Luuk De Jong. With these results, Arsenal is still at the top of the group with nine points, while PSV and Lens have five points, and Sevilla has two.

The “Gunners” will undoubtedly progress if they earn points in the next match against Lens at the Emirates Stadium on November 29. If they win, they will secure a spot in the knockout stage as the group leaders. In the final match on December 12, Arsenal will be an away team against PSV.

Starting lineup:

Arsenal: Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu (Zinchenko 46), Havertz, Jorginho (Elneny 90), Rice, Saka (Kiwior 85), Trossard (Vieira 81), Martinelli (Nelson 81).

Sevilla: Dmitrovic, Juanlu, Gudelj, Bade, Salas (Ocampos 76), Fernando, Jordan (Soumare 65, Diaz 73), Lamela, Sow (Rakitic 65), En-Nesyri, Pedrosa (Nianzou 76).

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