FC BodØ/Glimt (0) 0 Arsenal (1) 1
Aspmyra Stadium, BodØ, Norway
Thursday, 13th October 2022. Kick-off time: 17.45pm
(4-2-3-1) Matt Turner; Ben White, William Saliba, Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney; Albert Sambi Lokonga, Fabio Vieira; Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard (c), Reiss Nelson; Eddie Nketiah.
Substitutes: Aaron Ramsdale, Thomas Partey, Gabriel Magalhāes, Gabriel Martinelli, Cédric Soares, Takehiro Tomiyasu, (Marcus Vinicius Oliveira Alencar) Marquinhos, Karl Hein, Granit Xhaka, Khayon Edwards, Matt Smith, Bradley Ibrahim.
Scorers: Bukayo Saka (24 mins)
Yellow Cards: Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, Matt Turner
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 55%
Referee: Irfan Peljto (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Assistant Referees: Davor Beljo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Damir Lazić (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Fourth Official: Admir Šehović (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
VAR Team at UEFA HQ, Nyon, Switzerland: VAR: Marco Guida (Italy); AVAR: Fabio Maresca (Italy)
UEFA Referee Observer: Kenneth Clark (Scotland)
For the second time in a week, we find ourselves playing the same team in this competition, and this time we are the away team, playing in Norway, of course. At the time of writing, we do not appear to have any injuries nor outstanding problems, so hopefully the match will be one that we can get through without any problems.
Almost straight away from the kick-off, there was an early opportunity for us as Bukayo Saka made a really good run to get in behind the defence down the right. The goalie came out and Bukayo Saka hooked the ball across the face of goal but the whistle went for a foul, and shortly afterwards, there was a lovely exchange of passes inside the home side’s penalty area. Martin Ødegaard had the ball before playing it back to Albert Sambi Lokonga, who fired well wide. The match was dictated by the speed of Arsenal, and on the twenty-fourth minute, we got our reward, when Bukayo Saka played a little trickery to get inside the box and his shot bounced off a defender, onto his chest and into the back of the net, to give us the lead. Our goalscorer almost grabbed a second goal from a deflection (via a defender) as he got into the box again but this time he flashed a shot wide of the mark. We continued the pressure on the home side, and just after Bukayo Saka received a silly yellow card for his thoughtlessness, the home side appeared to wake up a bit and tried to put us under a bit of pressure, but our defence held firm, Just before the break, Bukayo Saka was brought down midway inside the hosts’ half and we had a perfect opportunity to create another chance just before half time; however, Ben White played it safe by squaring the ball to a team-mate rather than send the ball into the box and Arsenal retained possession for the final few seconds of the half.
The second half started in a fairly pedestrian manner, not much to get excited about just yet; however, seven minutes after the break, Amahl Pellegrino broke into space down our left-hand side and got into our penalty area. He had Ola Solbakken in support but had opted to go for goal himself and placed his shot too close to Matt Turner, who saved it easily enough. We had a narrow escape on the hour when Hugo Vetlesen, who had just Matt Turner to beat but thankfully blasted it over the bar, which inspired Mikel Arteta to send on Grant Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli for Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson just to spark things up a little. The home side was trying to make the match more of a competition now, with some good midfield play linked to one or two interesting chances, all of which went nowhere, which from our point of view was good to see. Hugo Vetlesen pulled back Eddie Nketiah to earn the hosts their first yellow card of the game, and a free-kick for us, which we took quickly. Gabriel Martinelli found Martin Ødegaard but his ball from the touchline was smothered at the near post by goalie Nikita Haikin. With twenty minutes of the match remaining, and with the home side looking a litle more spirited now, Mikel Arteta made another double change as Marquinhos and Takehiro Tomiyasu both came on for Martin Ødegaard (who handed the captain’s armband to Granit Xhaka) and Ben White. As we entered the last fifteen minutes of the match, we were still in charge, but the home side were looking more and more like they wanted to be part of this game now, as game management appears to be ours. Lars-Jorgen Salvesen almost got his head to a clever ball into the box as the home side kept pushing for an equaliser. The BodØ/Glimt fans then call for a penalty as they thought that Albert Sambi Lokonga handled the ball inside the box, but the referee was not interested and there was not a VAR check, so that was the matter closed. Albert Sambi Lokonga was replaced by Thomas Partey with five minutes of the match remaining, and shortly afterwards our substitute (Thomas Partey) got a yellow card for a messy tackle. Takehiro Tomiyasu showed a cool head as he calmly shrugged Amahl Pellegrino off the ball on the edge of our penalty area, and as the game entered injury time, Matt Turner received a yellow card for time wasting, but it mattered not, as a couple of minutes later we chalked up yet another win in the Europa League, Group A.
On a cold night within the Arctic Circle on an Astroturf pitch, we showed everyone just how good we are tonight under very challenging circumstances, none more illustrious than Bukayo Saka who just oozed class and skill out there this evening, Just like in the Premiership, we played together as a unit and gained the rewards for it too; we are top of Group A in this competition and top of the Premiership too. Mikel Arteta shuffled the pack again and he came up trumps with a young side who just keep on winning in style, despite some difficult moments at times. If we beat PSV Eindhoven next Thursday, then we are through into the knockout stages, which will be a just reward for all of our hard work.
Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Leeds United at Elland Road on Sunday, 16th October at 2.00pm. 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