Eintracht Frankfurt 0 Arsenal 3
Willock 35,  Saka  85, Aubameyang 87

Arsenal began their Europa League campaign with a 3-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt with goals from Academy graduates, Joe Willock, Bukaya Sako and leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The hosts were reduced to ten men after 79 minutes when Dominik Kohr picked up a second yellow card for a cynical foul. The Bundesliga side were in the game up until that point when the score was 1-0 to the visitors. Emiliano Martinez made some telling saves in from of another shaky Gunners’ defence, which enabled Willock’s opener to be the platform from which to build on. 18 year old Sako was enjoying the freedom of a large pitch, however his final ball and shot selection pointed to a frustrating night for him. That changed in the 85th minute when Saka let fly from yards to beat Trapp. The youngster wasn’t finished there either. Two minutes later he won possession and cut in a ball as the on side Aubameyang finished off then move with  strong low shot.

 

After their bruising Premier League lapse in defensive concentration against Watford in the 2-2 draw last week-end, Unai Emery decided to pair David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi at the back with Calum Chambers and Sead Kolasinac. Although they did keep a clean sheet, this was more due tp poor finishing by Frankfurt combined with some fine keeping from Martinez. The giant Argentine looks composed and surely must be given more game time in the Premier League. He was alert all evening and denied both Filip Kostic and Andre Silva in the first half.

When Lucas Torreira found himself advanced and only with Trapp the beat, the Uruguay midfielder hit above the bar, when any low shot would have given the Gunners the opener. That eventually arrived after 35 minutes, when Saka’s skill created the pass to Willock who saw his shot deflected past Trapp. Frankfurt don’t lose many games at home and roared on by an expectant home crowd, they threatened the wobbling Arsenal defence. Chambers found it a struggle to keep up with the pace while Dost should have capitalised on his chances.

Arsenal remained in the ascendency and when Dani Ceballos came on for Willock, we got to see more of the talented Spain player. Another Academy graduate, Emile Smith-Rowe showed glimpses of what he can do, and will get another chance under Emery. Nicolas Pepe replaced him after an hour, and the speed of Arsenal’s record summer signing has always been evident, but the trick now is to see how he can translate that to goals.

Once Saka’s wonder strike went in, followed by Aubameyang’s two minutes later, Arsenal had completed a rare win away in Germany, and will look to repeat that fete in the Premier League when they host Aston Villa on Sunday.

Emery was pleased to see his side’s Group F campaign get underway with a win, but accepted that there remains work to be done.

“We know that tonight’s match was difficult because they are very strong at home and they’re a very offensive team. Defensively, we needed to work sometimes deep, sometimes with the full backs very deep because they attack a lot and cross to their striker. We spoke and we worked on our transition because if we were organised defensively and had good pressing against them, we could recover the ball in the spaces. We did that. We have the possibility of using the young players, of giving them chances, to help them take their chances to play and share that opportunity with experienced players. Their performance tonight was good. We played in our way, with them, with our experienced players and our spirit. We showed that tonight.”