Arsenal scrape past Zurich to clinch top spot in Group A

Arsenal clinched a 1-0 win over FC Zurich at the Emirates to assure themselves as group winners, leaving PSV disappointed despite winning also.

The Gunners started the match in their usual bright fashion, but we struggled for success in the final third. It didn’t take long for our first real opportunity to come however, and while it was scrappy as we scrambled to get an effort on goal in the box, once it fell to Kieran Tierney it was always destined for the goal. The Scot latched onto the loose ball on the edge of the box to lash a half-volley down into the bottom right of the corner.

We started to dominate further as the half grew on, with Eddie Nketiah working hard to cause the defence trouble, and with the Dutch side taking the lead over Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt, we knew that we had to chase another goal in hope of staying on top of Group A, and avoid a playoff with one of the Champions League dropouts.

After the break, much of our best work was coming down the left still, with Tierney and Nketiah combining well, while Gabriel Jesus was also causing a nuisance of himself, but as we have grown frustratingly aware of, his finishing is lacking at times. The Brazilian had a great chance from close-range to double our lead, but failed to hit the target, sending it over the crossbar, and the manager was forced to bring on both Saka and Thomas Partey as he looked to make sure of victory, replacing Mo Elneny on his reappearance, and Jesus.

The Swiss side really began to grow in confidence as the half grew on, a reality which built up some stress after PSV doubled their lead in Norway, and we were forced to dig in a little, with our stress levels really tested when they scored, but thankfully their goalscorer was clearly offside.

We managed to hold on in the end, clinching just the one-goal victory to send us through, and we can now be relieved that we avoid having to fit an extra roud of European football in before the last 16 of the competition.

Patrick

Tags Arsenal v Zurich

60 Comments

  1. It’s obvious the gap between the first and second Arsenal team is huge, it was a disappointing match but I can’t complain too much, the job is done. I hope we don’t display such performance against Chelsea.

    1. Jesus didnt send it over the bar… the keeper made a great save of what would have been a goal otherwise… fact the ref gave a corner proves that !

      Have to say the Zurich fans sang non-stop – I was seated not far from them… though how they were allowed flares in the ground I have no idea ! And they threw objects at players and fans around them yet security did nothing!!

  2. Tierney’s play and Elneny’s return were pluses for me. The rest were meh.

    But a win is a win and it’s great to avoid those two extra games. So all in all, mission accomplished.

  3. Our second half performance wasn’t really convincing, but at least our players got the job done. Hopefully Tomiyasu is okay, otherwise we might have to play Soares in the LB position as Tierney could be too tired to start the game at Stamford Bridge

    My MOTM was Tierney for his goal and performance

    1. Tierney doesn’t know the meaning of the word tiredness, he’s like the Duracell bunny, but unfortunately made of glass.
      Anyway very unconvincing performance tonight but we won and are top and can relax a little until next year. Next up Chelsea, COYG.

    2. Why wloud Tierney be
      “too tired” for goodness sake?!He should be starting every game as he’s that good for me bar injuries…Stop this non-sens of Tomiyasu and Cédric at left back (got Arteta’s point against Salah ) WE do have a very good left back.

        1. Too tired of what?
          Chelsea also played Yesterday. All the so called Top 6 teams played Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

          Won’t their players also be as tired?

            1. Lol..
              U’re so clueless man…
              How about Arsenal having home advantage yesterday given that players didn’t have to travel away.
              Manchester United plan to train in spain today before coming back to England. Yet Bruno and Co would play on Sunday.

    3. Very lame comment…
      Tierney has hardly seen game time.. And u’re suggesting he might be tired?
      Lol..
      Even mentioning Cedric against Chelsea shows you really Got No Idea

  4. The problem is depth of squad. Our first eleven are incredible. The second squad is a bit shallow so the January window will definitely decide if we challenge for the EPL. We need about three top players.

  5. Tierney’s weird celebration, wiping his mouth with his wristband… what’s all that about?

    Nerve-wracking stuff that. When EL football returns next year it will be much harder jumping straight into the last 16.

    I hoped a corner had been turned after the Forest game, but we’re back to grinding out results (or not, in some cases). Still, not long to go before the pause – and time for a reset.

  6. On paper it looked plenty strong enough but even during our dominant spells it was lacking. Jittery as time went on

    1. You could feel that sense of nervousness from our players from kick off. Panicky on the ball. Ramsdale with that brainfart pass to no one and straight out of play for a Zurich corner.

      Holding doing that dancing on Ice Cha Cha dance in the first half giving the ball away a few yards from our penalty box but we got away with it.

      Poor poor and flat game like the PSV one.

      But we should have score more than one goal in that first half still. As always poor finishing, poor final passes etc..

      1. Can’t disagree Goonster
        Notts Forest and this was like chalk and cheese
        I hope that complacency isn’t to blame too

        1. I just came back from the game.. the atmosphere the Zurich fans made was amazing for their team who were well up for it… the referee was appalling though in the lack of free kicks for many persistent fouls they made – it was hard work and well done Ramsdale !

  7. Tierney best of a bad bunch ,good to see Elneny back , as he’s a decent cover player .
    Lokonga and Eddie the worst of a bad bunch .
    Shocking how far off our second string are to the first teamers .
    Job done though but maybe a little worrying if we start to get injures which will know doubt happen .

      1. @Dan
        The second team players are not giving the manager any encouragement to make them first team contenders it seems.
        They are not taking their chances.

  8. Yes it was a poor performance but they employed every dirty trick in the book.Shirt pulling all over the pitch,stamping on players feet,sly shove s in the back.The ref was hopeless.Zurich should not of finished with 11 men and I was worried about how many injuries we were going to pick up before Chelsea.

  9. Our poor finishing is starting to make me nervous now.
    With the amount of clear cut chances we seem to always create in the first 45 minutes of most games but can only score 1 or not score at all is getting me worried.

    Now we can see why Man City let Jesus go. Very good all round player but such a poor / terrible finisher.

    Vieira and Lokonga as always look like 16 year old boys thrust into the big boy team. Arteta and his staff have a tough task ahead of them to get these 2 boys bulked up and ready.

    The whole team looked so disjointed and it even got worse when the likes of Partey, Saka, Tomiyasu, Odegaard came on. We seem to have completely lost any bit of control when our main players came on. Very weird.

    These Europa games have been so flat. I don’t know if it’s because the players come into these game with a dismissive / nonchalant attitude about the whole Europa competition like us Arsenal fans. What is this flatness about then?

    Enough of my venting ranting. Off to bed so that I can sleep it off.
    😊

      1. Goonster, I don’t know any Arsenal fans that have a dismissive/nonchalant attitude to the EL. Any European competition is great to be in.

        1. @Herr Drier
          For real?
          Do you ever read comments on any Arsenal fans forums including “JustArsenal”?

          Comments like;
          “Just play our Second team and rest the first team players for this and that Premier league game?”

          “We should be able to beat Zurich with mostly our second string”.

          “Let’s focus mostly on finishing in the Top 4 and treat the Europa league as a competition to give our second team players and youngsters some game time”.

          “We should start using most of our main players in the later stages of the competition etc”.

          “Rest the first teamers for the upcoming EPL game.”.

          You even have those on the extreme saying “I wouldn’t mind if we were knocked out of the competition and concentrate on the league”.

          “We should be able to win the group with mostly our second string etc’”

          How many people have been constantly p!ssed off with Arteta playing the likes of Saka, Jesus, Martinelli, Tomiyasu, Odegaard etc in these games against PSV, Zurich and Bodo Glimt etc. Just read some comments before, during and after team confirmation.

          Would you ever hear / read such comments for any EPL or CL game that is not a dead rubber?

          1. Goonster, I should’ve used the word personally, as all the match going mates of mine are happy to be in a European competition.

            1. @Herr
              It makes more sense now that you made it more clear that you meant your own friends and not all Arsenal fans..
              👍

    1. how on earth can we be moaning about poor finishing when we just put five goals past forest barely a week ago, even the goal machines at City sometimes endure low scorelines too, so it’s the outcome that matters which is a win

  10. The fact that so many welcome Elneny back tells you so much about how precarious things could get later on in the season. Great sides do not need an Elneny.

        1. True, but then neither did the greatest captain this club has ever had, Tony Adams. Going on your theory, Senderos and Flamini were better than players that Doubles.

  11. Only 4 first teamers and it showed, but job done. Holding was atrocious, Vieira is very obviously not ready yet and I fear that Lokonga will never be ready – he was so invisible that I was surprised to notice him still on the pitch at 90 minutes. Sorry but Nketiah has regressed to his old mediocrity and offers this Arsenal side nothing. MOTM Tierney with an immense second half showing.

  12. People should not get too excited about the January transfer window. It is notriously over inflated and underwhelming as teams usually pay over the odds for mediocre players because there are desperate and good players are usually not on the market.

    1. Not if your smart and alot of players are into the last 6 months or 18months of their deal. Remeber Arsene stating players will run down their contract because of the inflation of the market. Players hold all the cards every time these days.

      If the player wants to go it will happen 99% of the time or will get a huge pay rise to stay like Eddie did with us.

  13. Arteta and Edu took a very big gamble on Nketiah. I understand they didn’t want to lose him for nothing and hope to be able to offload him afterwards but we may just be stuck with him. Perhaps the criticism and pressure from the fans about how poor we have been in managing players contracts influenced the decision.
    The only thing that could make me change my opinion about Vieira signing is if he eventually benched Odegaard and then we are able to sell Ode to get a much better player. Ode, while being a tireless worker, still lacks attributes to handle physical games, and that’s why he goes missing sometimes. For his technical ability, I don’t mind having a player like him in the squad but not 2.
    Nelson might actually be who we wanted Nketiah to be. I believe with a good run of games he will do well.
    I am now sure Arteta had opened his infamous ledger for Lokonga and this game was the final documentation to close his case. I think Lokonga just had his last start for us this season. Arteta must have intentionally kept him on and now he has played with both Elneny and Partey and still subpar.
    It is games like this that makes some pundits highly skeptically about our chances for T4, it reminds of the old Arsenal.

    1. 7 first teamers out Meedo – an 11 can integrate one or two squad players without a hiccup (see Nelson) but SEVEN? It’s also the most compressed season ever – we have played 10 games at 2 a week since 1 October.
      Have you seen ANY team in Europe performing well every game? Two defeats and a draw in 18 games, top of their Europa League and the EPL.

      1. Generally, the team has done very well when you consider the points gained but some of the performances, even when we won, have been below the standards we want from the team.
        There are a few games we won that are not as reassuring as our loss against Man united.

  14. Ramsdale
    Teirney starts at LB
    White at RB
    Saliba / Gabriel CB
    Thomas, Xhaka & Ode
    Saka, Jesus & Martinelli

    All to start v Chelsea. Hopefully Tomi isn’t out for too long…. such a shame as he a solid wing back! Nelson might get some minutes v Chelsea and they have alot of players out also so we have a good chance to vent this lot of we get at them!

    Great to top the group and move on to the last 32, concentrate now on staying top of the league and a league cup game v Brighton.

    1st step – Blow away The Bridge.

    Only negative is the same as ones mentioned above is that the 2nd team isn’t doing themselves any favours to make Mikel want to play them in the league. January window we may fix that.

  15. Well done for finishing top of the EL table and job done!!!!!! I am worried about some of the football we are serving up, the style, the content, the lack of quality and the lack of solidity out of possession. If we get a result at Chelsea on Sunday, just happen to play the way we are doing and win, then who can argue!!!!!!! I would just like to enjoy the fare that is being served up and not endure it. Credit tonight to Lakonga, Tierney and when he came on Partey but i worry there is something radically wrong with how we are playing at the moment. I cant have confidence that this team are the real deal or the manager is doing the right things. I need to see more, to be convinced, we are a hard watch at the moment even with a win.

  16. We made hard work of it, but we won and top the group. It may not have been pretty, but i couldn’t careless. Now we can put the EL to bed until March and concentrate on the domestic games.

  17. Well done on finishing top of the group firstly to the manager and players.

    Here is my big concern now. If you look at the majority of the group of players that MA inherited on arrival and you look at most of our second string team one thing is glaringly clear. MA(and his coachingteam) seems to be incapable of coaching players up to the next level which is very concerning.

    It’s seems very much like if we don’t have a large budget in the transfer windows frequently that results will start to dip.

    This is not a dig at MA but he’s now been here long enough to kind of see the type of manager he is. Some managers are good a coaching, others are good man managers and some are great tacticians and all will flourish under different circumstances.

    My concern is what if our budget becomes tight again? Our revenue from sales is still terrible so we bring in very little overall so it’s a big possibility. If we lose Partey is Lokonga being coached up enough to fill in long term?

    If we can keep spending 100+ in transfer windows then great but can we?

    1. What???? MA can’t magically turn mediocre players with poor abilities into good players. Mediocre players are mediocre. In some setups they might have good spells, as some of our mediocre bunch did, but they remain mediocre. Especially if they are old enough, as after a certain age some aspects of the game hardly change, like technical abilities.

      1. Are you referring to the FA Cup winning team as mediocre players?

        Also he’s bought a lot of the players in the fringe squad so are you saying that he bought players he knew were mediocre and that he couldn’t coach to be better?

  18. Some points to be noted:
    1. We struggle to finish chances at times, nothing to panic about at this stage but certainly concerning specially against better teams where chances will come few and far.
    2. Tierney will always be a key figure in our attacks down the left and although defensively Tomi is better on the left there are certain traits of Tierney which cannot be overlooked specially if we are looking to score.
    3. Our defensive resilience again was on the fore protecting a 1 goal lead.
    4. Tomi’s injury is concerning and hopefully it is nothing serious, he is important defensively across the back 4 both for Arsenal and for Japan.
    5. Great to see Saka has recovered and equally happy for Elneny, we will need as many players as possible. Hopefully Saka gets the necessary protection from the referees in the PL as he is repeatedly targetted. Also encouraging to see Zinchenko on the bench. Now only ESR is yet to fully recover and once he does we will be great in strength and depth.
    All in all looking positive for the crunch clash on Sunday.

  19. Let us Gooners be patient in our wants for the Gunners to always oerform very well in every match that they play and win it convincingly as they continue to play matches this season.
    For, game playing high performance in every game played is always not easy to attain. As some marches can prove to be difficult to successfully execute a good win in them than others that can easily be executed and won. Sometimes with some ease to them too..
    I think the Arsenal team that took on Zurich last night was taken aback in the game with the resistant that Zurich put up against them in the match. As they were not expecting that to come from the Swiss club. Hence, the Gunners were almost caught napping by Zurich in the match. However, the Gunners using their experience rose up gallantly to the challenge that Zurich appeared to pose them in the match to cause to them a havoc in it. As they deal squarely with the threats which Zurich brought up against them in the game. And delt them a blow in the match with a single goal scored match defeat suffered to them at fulltime.
    The important thing to do in the match by Arsenal top group A on the nifgt was for them to win the match either beautiful or ugly which they did.

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