Arsenal (1) 1 Eintracht Frankfurt (0) 2
UEFA Europa League, Group F, Matchday 5 of 6
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Thursday, 28th November 2019. Kick-off time: 8.00pm
(4-2-3-1) Emiliano Martínez; Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz, Calum Chambers; Joe Willock, Granit Xhaka; Kieran Tierney, Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Bernd Leno, Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Özil, Lucas Torreira, Nicolas Pépé, Reiss Nelson, Mattéo Guendouzi.
Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (45+1 mins)
Yellow Cards: Shkodran Mustafi, Mattéo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka, Gabriel Martinelli
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 50%
Referee: Ruddy Buquet (France)
Attendance circa 25,000
Welcome to the opening match of the Thursday Club, featuring Arsenal F.C. With the exclusion of 19th December, we have matches on Thursdays for four weeks out of five, starting tonight, which is extremely unfair to both supporters and players alike, particularly at this time of the year. Is nothing sacred? Meanwhile, questions abound on this, Matchday 5 of Group F, Europa League. Which Arsenal will turn up tonight? Will the manager play a system that the players actually understand? Or will this match against Eintracht Frankfurt merely be a re-run of the disastrous past few games that we have all had the misfortune to witness? All will surely be revealed.
The match started off, as so many of our matches have done recently, with us making a decent fist of things; good movement both on and off the ball, and some fairly decent strikes on the Frankfurt goal. Both Granit Xhaka and David Luiz suffered nasty knocks in the first half, and in the case of the latter, went off just after the half hour and was replaced by Mattéo Guendouzi. Still we came forward, and of all the chances that we created, Gabriel Martinelli was surely the most unfortunate. He had a header cleared off the line, and a superb shot blocked by an opposition defender. On the stroke of half-time, Gabriel Martinelli provided a low pass for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score a superb goal which ensured that we went into the break in the ascendancy.
But for us, this was where the match formally ended. The second half started as a car crash, and continued in the same ham-fisted, amateurish manner which we have come to expect from this leaderless, lost team of footballers. It took just ten minutes into the half for us to face the inevitable. Daichi Kamada curled a shot from the edge of the Arsenal penalty area past the outstretched arm of Emiliano Martínez into the net; nine minutes later, he did it again, this time, from a corner that was half-heartedly cleared which conveniently came his way. He composed himself, and simply stroked the ball into our net, for his second and final goal of the evening. From there on, we were clueless and ultimately finished.
In a desperate act of panic, Unai Emery took off Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel Martinelli, and brought on Lucas Torreira along with Mesut Özil, but still it made no difference whatsoever; why he didn’t bring on Nicolas Pépé at this time is a mystery to us all.. As the match wore on, we looked less and less interested in the game, and we were extremely fortunate not to fall victim to “smash and grab” tactics in which Frankfurt caught us cold several times and looked like they were going to seal the game with yet another goal. It was surely good fortune on our part and bad football practice on the visitors’ system that we didn’t go further behind.
The famous old clock ran down, and as it did, the more useless and tepid we looked. At the final whistle, the boos and catcalls rang around the ground as has become practice here at The Emirates of late. We now have to avoid defeat against Standard Liege in Belgium on 12th December to qualify for the last 32 of the competition, which with this team, is not certain.
Let us talk honestly now. It’s time for the Board of Directors to discover their spine and replace this coaching administration of Unai Emery and his assistants as soon as possible, otherwise this grand old club, of which we have been so rightly proud of so many times in the past, will simply slide away into oblivion, like so many have done before. The footballers also need to take their fair share of responsibility here, as they too have shown scant regard for the club, each other, nor the supporters either in their disgraceful attitude and lacklustre play. Unai Emery may well set the tactics, but they set the attitude, and they need to look at themselves also. Who will be our gallant Lochinvar? Who will save us from ourselves?
Remember everyone, keep the faith. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday, 1st September at 2.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.