Arsenal vs Standard Liege. UEFA Europa League Group F.
Arsenal's youngsters impress again in emphatic victory
Friday 4 October 2019 08:40, UK
Gabriel Martinelli scored two goals and set up another as a youthful Arsenal side turned on the style to thrash Standard Liege 4-0 in their Europa League Group F meeting at the Emirates Stadium.
Teenager Martinelli, a £6m signing from Brazilian side Ituano during the summer, opened the scoring with a superb header after 13 minutes and netted his second with a low, curling finish just three minutes later, making it four goals from two games following his double against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup.
Joe Willock hit Arsenal's third with another curling finish (22) before Dani Ceballos completed the scoring in the second half when he poked a Martinelli cross over the line for his first goal for the club (57).
Arsenal: Martinez (7), Bellerin (7), Mustafi (7), Holding (7), Tierney (8), Torreira (7), Ceballos (8), Willock (8), Nelson (8), Maitland-Niles (7), Martinelli (9).
Subs: Pepe (6), Guendouzi (6), Aubameyang (6).
Standard Liege: Milinkovic-Savic (4), Vojvoda (5), Vanheusden (4), Laifis (5), Gavory (5), Boljevic (5), Bastien (5), Climirot (5), Lestienne (5), M'Poku (5), Edmond (5).
Subs: Carcela-Gonzalez (5), Amallah (5), Dovillabichus (5).
Man of the Match: Gabriel Martinelli
Unai Emery's side missed a series of chances to extend their lead in the closing stages, but the victory is another significant step towards the Europa League knockout stages following the 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in their opening group game.
Arsenal were dominant right from the start, pushing the visitors back and directing most of their attacks down their left flank, where Kieran Tierney, making only his second appearance for the club following his £25m arrival from Celtic, produced a string of dangerous crosses.
It was from one such cross that Martinelli scored the opener, darting across his marker at the near post and glancing a superb header high into the net after Shkodran Mustafi's cross-field pass had found its way to Tierney.
Unai Emery made 10 changes to the side that drew with Manchester United on Monday, giving chances to the likes of Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Kieran Tierney and, of course, Gabriel Martinelli. Hector Bellerin captained the side but there was no place in the squad for Mesut Ozil.
Arsenal's next two goals came from the same area. For their second, Martinelli beat Standard Liege defender Zinho Vanheusden to a Reiss Nelson cut-back and controlled the ball smartly before shifting it onto his right foot and curling a low finish beyond the goalkeeper.
Willock volleyed another Tierney cross over the bar from close range soon after that, but the academy graduate did not have to wait long to add Arsenal's third, controlling Nelson's deflected shot and dispatching a composed finish into the corner for his third goal of the campaign.
Arsenal were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Standard Liege goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic brought down Nelson shortly before half-time, but they were celebrating their fourth just 12 minutes after the break when Martinelli's delicate centre was forced home by Ceballos.
Arsenal threatened more goals after that, with Martinelli going close to a hat-trick on a couple of occasions and Emery also sending on Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from the bench, but the visitors, who offered almost nothing going forward, just about held out.
Martinelli's brilliant start to life at Arsenal continues. The Brazilian was not expected to feature prominently this season having only turned 18 in June, but this outstanding performance might just tempt Emery into using him in the Premier League too.
His goals were expertly taken and his assist for Arsenal's fourth was arguably even better, as he latched onto an Ainsley Maitland-Niles through-ball and dug out a delightful cross from the byline which would have dropped over the line even without Ceballos' intervention.
Martinelli was a constant threat and Emery will be just as encouraged by the defensive side of his performance. The teenager was full of running, forcing Standard Liege defenders into mistakes on the ball and setting the tone for an energetic Arsenal performance.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery: "To have six points after the two matches, it's really important. We can take confidence. We were consistent over the 90 minutes and we can take a lot of positivity from tonight's game.
"The players, when they did all they can like tonight, it is perfect. We did a lot of good, we can analyse to continue to improve. It's a fantastic victory."
Arsenal return to Premier League action at home to Bournemouth on Sunday. You can follow the game with the Sky Sports live blog from 1pm; Kick-off 2pm. Their next Europa League game comes at home to Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes on October 24.