A positive performance from Arsenal in Norway saw the Gunners qualify for the round of 32 of the Europa League with two group games to spare.
Goals from Nicolas Pepe, Reiss Nelson and Folarin Balogun saw Mikel Arteta’s side make it four wins on the bounce in Europe and the North London club will now be looking to translate this type of form into the Premier League, starting with their game against Wolves on Sunday.Embed from Getty Images
Here’s my player ratings from tonight’s action:
Alex Runar Runarsson – 6
Clean sheet but a quiet night overall for the Icelandic keeper. Did what was required when called upon. However, he did have one shaky moment in the first-half when he charged off his line and completely mis-hit an attempted clearance from a long ball. Luckily for him, Maitland-Niles was there to cover.
Cedric Soares – 6
Didn’t do anything special, but didn’t do anything wrong either. Was generally tidy on the ball, got forward well at times and was competent in defensive situations.
Shkodran Mustafi – 6
Solid enough performance from the German. Won a fair amount of duels and made a few interceptions. Wasn’t really troubled at all on the night.
David Luiz (off 45’) – 5
Went off at half-time, presumably because of a knock. Hardly had anything to do defensively in the 45 minutes he was on the pitch, but distributed well from the back.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 7
Did a good job both defensively and going forward in a fairly unfamiliar role for the England international at left back. Won the majority of his duels and got involved in the attacking play well.
Joe Willock (off 75’) – 7
Fairly quiet first-half but came to life in the second-half, getting two good assists. A positive, energetic performance from the youngster who was a willing runner all night.
Granit Xhaka (off 62’) – 7
Dictated play well in the centre of the park, displaying a good range of passing. The Swiss midfielder also made a very important block to deny Eikrem in the first-half.
Nicolas Pepe – 9 (Man of the match)
Exceptional performance from the Ivorian who looked a real threat every time he had the ball at his feet. Took his goal fantastically well after pinging the crossbar from 25 yards out just moments before, and could’ve had an assist after picking out Nketiah with a delightful cross. Great response from the club-record signing following his red card on Sunday.
Alexandre Lacazette (off 75’) – 6
Was involved in a nice piece of link-up play with Nelson in the first-half, and forced a good save from the keeper in the second-half. Worked hard, but it didn’t really click for the Frenchman playing in that No.10 role. His touch appeared a little off tonight.
Reiss Nelson – 8
Really bright performance from Nelson. Played with great intent and was very direct in his play. He ran at the Molde defence on several occasions, causing them all sorts of problems and finished his goal emphatically.
Eddie Nketiah (off 82’) – 5
Arsenal’s worst performer on the night. The ball bounced off him a lot, and he failed to even hit the target with a golden opportunity in the second-half with a header.
Rob Holding (on 45’) – 5
Didn’t have much to do in the 45 minutes he was on the pitch. He did, however have a couple of sloppy moments where he carelessly gave the ball away.
Dani Ceballos (on 62’) – 5
Wasn’t really involved when he came on for what was his 50th Arsenal appearance. Generally tidy on the ball.
Emile Smith Rowe (on 75’) – 6
Assisted Balogun’s goal with a simple squared ball after showing good movement to find space in the box. Good little cameo from the youngster who could be fighting for that No.10 spot in the league very soon considering the lack of competition there at the moment.
Kieran Tierney (on 75’) – 6
Got a “pre-assist” for Balogun’s goal after picking out Smith Rowe with a nice pass into the box. Showed good energy when getting forward in the time he was on the pitch.
Folarin Balogun (on 82’) – 7
Scored less than a minute after coming on in what was his second-ever senior Arsenal appearance. Special moment for the youngster who looks to have a bright future.