By Mathias Kamfjord (@kamfjordmathias)
There is a top of the table clash tonight between Arsenal and Norwegian side Molde in the Europa League. The latter are in exceptional form coming off a 6-game winning streak and looking to seal a result against the group favourite, Arsenal. However, The Gunners’ cannot be in bad spirits after they secured a 1-0 win away against Manchester United, in a brilliant tactical display — 14 years after their last win at Old Trafford. Mathias Kamfjord will be taking you through the action as it happens.
- David Luiz is back in the team after being out injured for two games
- Arsenal make nine changes from the team that won at Old Trafford — and Granit Xhaka will wear the captain’s armband today
- Molde’s top scorer Leke James (11 goals) is on the bench today
- Molde are without injured defender Kristoffer Haralseid, but they still have Stian Gregersen who starts after being called up for the national team for the first time in his career
- Martin Ellingsen who came of the substitutes’ bench and scored twice against Mjøndalen at the weekend gets his start today
Beeeeep! Molde kick off their 100th game in European competitions. This will be interesting!
3′ min Joe Willock runs with the ball on the right-hand side, crosses it in but great defending from Martin Bjørønbak who stops Eddie Nketiah from reaching the ball.
5′ min First big chance of the game! Nicolas Pepe who gets a ball and has an enormous amount of space ahead of him, he passes it to Nketiah who gets a shot off but Andreas Linde saves.
Molde are looking solid defensively so far. Their manager Erling Moe joked before the match that he was going to contact his good friend and Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær about instructions to use against Arsenal. Maybe he has actually has approached the Premier League manager? However, Arsenal are struggling to take advantage of the possession they have had thus far and creating very few chances.
23′ min GOAL GOAL GOAL!!!! 0-1 MOLDE!
ELLINGSEN! What a goal that is! Ellingsen cuts inside with the ball and hits a shot from 25 yards into the bottom left corner. Astonishing opening in the top of the table clash! The former Manchester United academy player Magnus Wolff Eikrem with a tremendous assist, hitting a great pass on a half-volley. The Englishmen are offering fireworks outside the stadium — Ellingsen brings it inside.
Arsenal have looked very sloppy thus far. Trying to exploit their right-hand side but Pepe and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have been clumsy at best. Molde never seems to be in any huge trouble, and that is due to their good defending as well. The Gunners’ last opponent Dundalk did not even give one free-kick away in their 3-0 defeat, Molde more physical today.
Still not much that is happening in this first half. Molde are always in a compact shape while Arsenal are pressing individually rather than collectively which keeps it easy for Molde to play. If the latter win today it will be the first win for a Norwegian side away against an English team.
43′ min Pepe gets a great cross into Nketiah who hits it in the back of the net, but the assistant referee rules it out for offside. Hard to see if that was correctly given.
45′ min The boyhood Arsenal fan Ohi Omoijuanfo gets a good shot in the left near post but Bernd Leno saves.
45+1 min GOAL FOR ARSENAL 1-1!
OWN GOAL: KRISTOFFER HAUGEN! Arsenal hit Molde on the counter-attack after a corner. They were in full speed, Willian plays the ball to Xhaka who passes it to Nketiah. The latter crosses the ball in and Haugen slides the ball into his own net. Clumsy from the Norwegian.
BEEP! BEEP! Half-time!
Molde who seemed to have a decent control on the match in the first half throws it away with a sloppy and unnecessary own goal at the end. Arsenal who have been far from precise in their game should be more than happy with that goal. Mikel Arteta will probably change some things in the break, because this has not been impressive from the hosts.
Arsenal kicks off the second half!
50′ min Xhaka with a great pass to Sead Kolasinac but his eventual cross gets blocked. Corner leads to a half-chance by Luiz who struggled to control the ball when he received it.
54′ min Huge chance for The Gunners. A cross coming from Arsenal’s right lands a bit too close to the goal and Molde’s goalkeeper gets a hand on it but gives a rebound to Kolasinac to miss an open net. Big opportunity missed for Arsenal!
Completely different Arsenal side from what we saw in the first half. Higher tempo, more control, creativity and solid overall.
62′ min ANOTHER OWN GOAL!! Arsenal 2-1!!!!
Own goal: Sheriff Sinyan! Arsenal controlling the possession outside of Molde’s pentalty area. Xhaka hit a beautiful over the top through pass to Nketiah who crosses to Sinyan who hits it in his own net! Beautiful play leads to a messy own goal.
63′ min Molde with a substitution. Out with the pacey Mathis Bolly and in with Erling Knudtzon.
66′ min Arsenal continue to outplay Molde. Kolasinac hits a great cross to Pepe who hits it on the volley but Linde saves.
69′ min GOAL! ARSENAL 3-1!!
NICOLAS PEPE! Bukayo Saka hits a diagonal cross in from the edge of the penatly area to Pepe who knocks the ball pasts, Linde. Great finish from the Ivorian. 3-1 to the favourites.
71′ min Molde with their best chance of the second half. Fredrik Aursnes passes to Knudzton but he could not find Omoijuanfo. Great opportunity missed.
75′ min What a pass from Luiz. Strikes a 30 yard through-pass to Willock and the youngster was one-on-one with the goalkeeper but he could not find the back of the net
79′ min Willock crosses a good ball from the left to Nketiah but the latter heads it just wide.
Whatever Arteta said or did tactically in the half-time it has worked perfectly. Arsenal in absolute no danger whatsoever in this second half — Molde looks lost and have rarely borrowed the ball. Would not be surprised to see a dizzy Norwegian going off the pitch after the final whistle.
85′ min Leke James muscles off Shkodran Mustafi easily and turns to his right just to hit a shot off outside the box. The strike hit an Arsenal defender and goes into the side netting.
87′ min Willock with another chance to score, but his strike goes on the wrong side of the post
88′ min BUT HE GETS ONE THERE!! ARSENAL 4-1!
Under a minute later the Englishman gets his goal he has been searching for. The shot goes into the top of the net and it is well out of the reach of Linde! Arsenal’s high press pays off in a goal. The assist comes from Pepe and the goal from 21-year-old Willock.
BEEP BEEP BEEEEEP! FULL-TIME!
A game which includes to different stories. Molde best in the first half, but Arsenal miles better in the second. Overall a fair result considering how hopeless Molde were in the latter part of the game. The hosts move to first in the table after this very important win. The Norwegian side do not have to worry too much. They are second and still on the right track to qualify to the knockout phase, and should take a lot of positives from that first half.
‘Very good first half, but it got too difficult in the end!’
A pretty good summary of the matchMolde’s Twitter account
Cheers for following – all the best. Bye bye.