Arsenal are within touching distance of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages after Leandro Trossard and Bukayo Saka clinched a 2-0 win against Sevilla on Wednesday.
Mikel Arteta’s side got back on track after successive domestic defeats thanks to Trossard’s first half opener and Saka’s strike after the break at the Emirates Stadium.
— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) November 8, 2023
With three wins from four Group B games, Arsenal sit in first place, four points ahead of second-placed PSV Eindhoven.
The north Londoners will be certain to reach the last 16 if they take one point from their remaining matches at home to Lens and at PSV.
The only concern for Arteta was the sight of Saka limping off with an injury after appearing to twist his ankle in the closing stages.
Saka was subjected to a series of fouls before his injury, but Arteta said the England star had to get used to rough treatment.
“It was just a kick. Hopefully it’s not much. I’m going to assume he will be OK,” he said.
“That will happen when wingers take people on. I don’t think it’s going to change with the way he plays. He better get used to it!”
Brushing aside Sevilla was the perfect way to erase the bitter taste of a difficult spell that included a League Cup defeat against West Ham and the end of their unbeaten start to the Premier League at Newcastle.
That loss against Newcastle, whose winning goal by Anthony Gordon was controversially awarded by VAR, sent Arteta into a sustained fury that had hardly subsided in the days since.
Arteta labelled the decision “embarrassing” and a “disgrace”, while Arsenal backed him in a statement that said the defeat involved “yet more unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors”.
There were no more VAR dramas to provoke Arteta into another red mist as Arsenal made light work of lacklustre Sevilla, who languish at the bottom of Group B without a win.
“We didn’t need to respond because we played really well against Newcastle. Today we were at home, so we needed different things. I’m really happy with the performance,” Arteta said.
“We showed aggression and commitment. Even when we lost the ball, we were incredibly good to get it back. That’s why we won.
“It’s hard in Europe to control it how we did.”
Sevilla boss Diego Alonso added: “We are hurting. Arsenal were the better side. We played badly.
“Of course I accept criticism. We have an opportunity to turn this around in the derby (against Real Betis). We will give everything.”
– Incisive Arsenal –
Arteta said his side have to be “absolutely ruthless” and make opponents “suffer” if they want a long run in the Champions League this season.
The Gunners followed his message to the letter as they out-classed Sevilla from start to finish.
Driven on by Saka and Gabriel Martinelli’s incisive raids, Arsenal made the breakthrough with a sublime move in the 29th minute.
Jorginho unlocked the Sevilla defence with a superb pass that picked out Saka’s run down the right flank and the winger’s low cross was perfectly placed for Trossard to slot home from close-range.
The 28-year-old Belgian’s fourth goal this season rewarded Arteta’s faith after he selected him as his central striker in the absence of injured duo Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus.
Kai Havertz, who has just one goal this term, went close with a long-range curler early in the second half but yet again he was largely anonymous for long periods.
Luckily for Arsenal, they don’t need to rely on Havertz as a regular source of goals at present.
It was Saka and Martinelli who combined to secure the killer second goal in the 64th minute.
Martinelli’s pin-point pass sent Saka racing into the area and he cleverly cut back inside Adria Pedrosa before guiding a composed finish past Marko Dmitrovic from 10 yards.
© Agence France-Presse