On current form, you’d be hard put to find many teams playing as confident as Arsenal right now. Fresh off the back of an all-important north London derby win over local rivals Tottenham Hotspur and already at the top of group A after a win over FC Zürich on matchday one, Mikel Arteta’s men were ready for the visit of FK Bodø/Glimt.
Clearly, Mikel Arteta has one eye keenly fixed on Sunday’s crunch match with Liverpool, which necessitated some changes in the lineup.
Just three of Arsenal’s starting XI from Saturday started, with Oleksandr Zinchenko the only notable absentee.
In traditional fashion this season, Arsenal started well. In fact, throughout the majority of the first-half, Bodø/Glimt were unable to lay so much as a finger on Mikel Arteta’s men.
Clearly sensing that there would be too greater gulf in class between the two sides, Bodø/Glimt seemed happy to employ a low-block that would contain Arsenal’s electric pace on the wings.
For the most part, this seemed to work, with Brazilians Marquinhos and Gabriel Martinelli both failing to really get any change out of a very well-drilled backline.
However, Bodø/Glimt were perhaps a little too cavalier going forward and soon left gaps in their defence.
Once such gap was exploited by the swashbuckling Kieran Tierney, who smashed a spectacular shot against the post, only for Eddie Nketiah to turn in the rebound to give the hosts the lead.
Bodø/Glimt’s block had been broken and what little they tried to curtail Arsenal further was met with more attacking prowess.
An unusually poor corner from Arsenal allowed Fàbio Vieria to pick the ball up on the edge of the penalty area and whip in a low-driven cross, which was met by the diving head of defender Rob Holding to double Arsenal’s lead.
Granit Xhaka came tantalisingly close from a free-kick, but other than that, Arsenal went in at the break deservedly in front.
The second half saw Bodø/Glimt, no doubt having been read the riot act by manager Kjetil Knutsen at half-time, attack with a lot more intensity.
Though very few of their chances will have caused Arsenal too many problems, they were nevertheless doing an admirable job of stemming the tide of constant Arsenal attacks that had so besieged them in the first half.
Changes were made and Arsenal’s intensity, which had taken a noticeable dip after the break, began to pick up again.
The high-intensity pressing of Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka began to pen Bodø/Glimt back in again.
Eventually, Arsenal grabbed their third.
A mesmeric run from Gabriel Jesus saw him weave past three defenders before squaring the ball across the penalty area for Fàbio Vieria to turn in for his first-ever European goal for the club.
The final whistle eventually blew out on a commendable performance from Mikel Arteta’s men, who cemented their position at the top of group A.
It wasn’t quite the same high-intensity freneticism that had so blown away Antonio Conte’s Tottenham on Saturday, but it was nevertheless a professional job by Arsenal on the day.
Standout performances from Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Fàbio Vieria more than did the job on the night.
Tierney was back to his marauding self. Constantly getting forward whenever he could, he was a constant thorn in the side of the Bodø/Glimt side. While his crosses never met any Arsenal heads, it was. a reminder that Arsenal do have a significant presence on the flanks.
As for Takehiro Tomiyasu, he was his usual quietly dependable self. While he was not as helpful going forward as Tierney was, that arguably wasn’t his role on the night. When Tierney was substituted for Benjamin White, Tomiyasu was able to switch over to the left-hand flank with no trouble at all. There’s a reason he was crowned Arsenal’s new Mr. Dependable last season.
As for Fàbio Vieria, the Portuguese maestro looks to be a worthy back-up for Martin Ødegaard. The former FC Porto man was had Bodø/Glimt on strings all night and was dictating play left, right and centre. It was unsurprising to see him pick up both a goal and an assist. It will be interesting to see how he pushes Ødegaard for a starting role soon enough.
A win on a Thursday night is always welcomed for Arsenal fans. Heading into a crunch match with Liverpool on Sunday means you need to be firing on all cylinders and Arsenal look to be doing just that.
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|🇳🇱 PSV Eindhoven||2||1||1||0||6||2||+4||4|
|🇨🇭 FC Zürich||3||0||0||3||3||9||-6||0|
30.) Matt Turner
18.) Takehiro Tomiyasu
16.) Rob Holding
6.) Gabriel Magalhães
3.) Kieran Tierney (White 70’)
23.) Albert Sambi Lokonga
34.) Granit Xhaka (c) (Ødegaard 59’)
21.) Fàbio Vieria
27.) Marquinhos (Saka 59’)
11.) Gabriel Martinelli (Gabriel Jesus 58’)
14.) Eddie Nketiah (Nelson 81’)
1.) Aaron Ramsdale
31.) Karl Jakob Hein
12.) William Saliba
4.) Benjamin White
17.) Cédric Soares
5.) Thomas Partey
72.) Matt Smith
8.) Martin Ødegaard
44.) Cătălin Cîrjan
7.) Bukayo Saka
24.) Reiss Nelson
9.) Gabriel Jesus
FK Bodø/Glimt team:
12.) Nikita Haikin
3.) Alfons Sampsted (Konradsen 88’)
18.) Brede Moe
22.) Marius Lode (Høibråten 88’)
5.) Brice Wembangomo
10.) Hugo Vetlesen (Grønbæk 73’)
77.) Patrick Berg
14.) Ulrik Saltnes (c)
32.) Joel Mvuka (Solbakken 73’)
7.) Amahl Pellegrino
11.) Runar Espejord (Salvesen 88’)
FK Bodø/Glimt subs:
1.) Julian Faye Lund
2.) Japhet Sery Larsen
6.) Isak Amundsen
4.) Marius Høibråten
8.) Albert Grønbæk
23.) Elias Kristoffersen Hagen
29.) Nino Žugelj
16.) Morten Konradsen
27.) Sondre Sørli
88.) Lars-Jørgen Salvesen
9.) Ola Solbakken