Thursday 24 October 2019

Young guns mask Emery's defensive dilemmas

Eintracht Frankfurt 0 Arsenal 3

Joe Willock of Arsenal celebrates with his teammates after he scores the first goal. Photo: Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images
Joe Willock of Arsenal celebrates with his teammates after he scores the first goal. Photo: Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images

Sam Dean

There is nothing like the spirit of youth to invigorate a football team when the mood darkens and the fans begin to grow restless.

Just ask Unai Emery, whose trust in the promise of his side's most talented youngsters, despite last weekend's demoralising collapse at Watford, was vindicated in a breathless and brilliant night for Arsenal.

Arsenal's Joe Willock, third right, celebrates with his team-mates after scoring his side's opening goal during the Europa League Group F win in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Arsenal's Joe Willock, third right, celebrates with his team-mates after scoring his side's opening goal during the Europa League Group F win in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Three goals scored and none conceded against the toughest opponents in their Europa League group tells its own story.

It does not tell the whole story, though, and Arsenal remain almost laughably open in midfield and defence, but no one can deny that this was a lengthy stride back in the right direction after a wobbly start to the new campaign.

Eintracht Frankfurt had never previously lost in 15 home games in this competition. Only three teams, including Chelsea in last season's semi-final, have ever escaped with a draw.

The fact that Arsenal secured victory, and by such an emphatic scoreline, should not and will not detract from their defensive troubles.

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka, right, scores his side's second goal during the Europa League Group F win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Arsenal's Bukayo Saka, right, scores his side's second goal during the Europa League Group F win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The attention will be diverted towards the attackers, though, and rightly so. Joe Willock, 20, Emile Smith Rowe, 19, and Bukayo Saka, 18, deserve for this to be known as their night.

Willock struck the first before half-time, before Saka added the second and then created the third, for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

As ever with the modern Arsenal, there were plenty of nervy moments at the other end, where goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was immovable. Arsenal remain almost comically flawed, and on another night this could have been 3-0 to the home side.

It was only after a late red card to Frankfurt's Dominik Kohr that Arsenal were able to show some control. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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