Arsenal ran the rule with a thumping 4-1 win over CSKA Moscow and took giant steps towards progressing to the semi-finals of the Europa League.
It might just be a matter of time before Arsenal book their place into the Europa League semi-final, after putting CSKA Moscow to the sword at home with a total thrashing of the Russian side. Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette got two goals each in the game while Mesut Ozil yet again proved to be the master creator with two assists.
The Gunners began the game in high spirits, and after some fantastic passing from the Arsenal attackers, Bellerin sent in a low cross which Ramsey hammered into the net. CSKA then found a way back with a beautiful Aleksandr Golovin free-kick, but later on, it was all Arsenal, who went on to score three more goals to finish the first half.
Ozil was fouled inside the box, resulting in a penalty, which Lacazette scored, in what was his first start in over two months. Ozil then delivered an incisive ball to Ramsey, who scored from a high back heel, past Akinfeev to make it 3-1. Lacazette then scored his second of the game and Arsenal’s fourth from an Ozil low cross from the left.
In the end, Arsenal have one firm foot into the semi-finals of the Europa League, unless CSKA Moscow pulls off a surprise at the second leg in Moscow. The Russian side, however, will have to score a bare minimum fo three goals without conceding any in the second leg to have a chance of progressing.
How did the Gunners’ stars rate?
Petr Cech – 6.5
Starting only his second game in the competition, Cech was good enough in goal and got his hands on some aerial balls inside the box. He wasn’t tested adequately during the game but did concede from a Golovin free-kick, where he should probably have positioned himself better.
Hector Bellerin – 7
Bellerin was heavily involved in Arsenal’s attack from the right side and duly provided the assist for Ramsey and the Gunners’ first goal. In defence, he was tormented and beaten for pace by Ahmed Musa on numerous occasions but did enough to protect Arsenal’s lead.
Shkodran Mustafi – 6.5
Mustafi had his moments, both good and bad. The Russian side, for the most of the game, attacked through Musa and if not for the on-loan Leicester striker’s inefficiency, CSKA could have scored more. Otherwise, the German was stable enough to prevent dangerous attacks and would be happy to concede only one goal.
Laurent Koscielny – 6.5
Similar to Mustafi, Koscielny too had a hard time dealing with Musa and his runs into the box with the ball. Otherwise, he too defended well for the most part and was saved by Musa’s inefficiency. Conceded the free-kick that lead to CSKA’s equaliser.
Nacho Monreal – 6.5
Monreal, as usual, was a substantial presence on the left-hand side, preventing any possible attacks for the most of the game. He also came forward at times to participate in Arsenal’s attack an was involved in Arsenal’s third goal.
Granit Xhaka – 7
Controlled proceedings in the middle and Xhaka remained in deep positions as Ramsey was making countless runs into the box. Ably supported his defence and managed the distribution of the ball well. Could have got an assist with the chance he made for Ozil.
Aaron Ramsey – 9
Ramsey, when he is in goalscoring form, often showcases a hunger for more. After scoring Arsenal’s opener and third, he was actively looking for a hat-trick and hit the post once in the second half. He could have scored the hat-trick with more chances falling to him, as he remained in the attacking third, demanding the ball at all times.
Mesut Ozil – 9.5
Ozil was at the centre of Arsenal’s attacking play on the evening. Creating numerous chances and dictating play from an attacking position made him a constant threat. Ozil had a hand in all four Arsenal goals. He played the key pass for the first, won the penalty for the second and then went on to assist the third and fourth goal. Could have scored as well.
Jack Wilshere – 6
Wilshere was playing as Arsenal’s No.10, and apart from his involvement in the first goal, he hardly contributed much. Had some bad moments with sloppy passing, but luckily nothing turned into a serious attacking moment for CSKA. Subbed off in the second half to be replaced by Elneny.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 7
Apart from some probing balls to his teammates and a big part in Arsenal’s first goal, Mkhitaryan had a quiet game by his usual standards. Was a good threat from the right side and added zip to his game. Taken off due to an injury and replaced by Iwobi.
Alexandre Lacazette – 9
In his first start in over two months, Lacazette scored two vital goals for Arsenal, first from the penalty spot and a second with an excellent finish from 18-yards. He cut an unhappy figure when taken off in the second half, as he, along with Ramsey were both looking for their respective hat-tricks.
Alex Iwobi – 7.5
Iwobi changed the dynamics of the right-hand side with his arrival in place of Mkhitaryan. He was the player who got Lacazette and Ramsey closer to scoring their hat-tricks. Lacazette missed a glorious chance from Iwobi’s probing ball from inside the box, and Ramsey hit the post with his smooth lay-off. It will do good for his confidence.
Danny Welbeck – 6
Missed another sitter with a miskick, as the ball hit his shins. The forward line went a little quiet since his arrival as he lacked the action Lacazette brought to Arsenal’s attack.
Mohamed Elneny – 6
Came on in place of Jack Wilshere but not in the No.10 role. Elneny was sent on to shore up the central midfield and defend from counter attacks which the Russians were capable of. Did his job well in that aspect, but came forward at times to contribute to attacks as well.