Arsenal ensured a first-ever victory in Portugal courtesy of a solitary Danny Welbeck goal to keep their winning run going and take control of Group E in the Europa League.
Arsenal winning games despite not performing at their best has become a norm under Unai Emery. The Gunners secured yet another victory, this time against Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, which ensured their 11th win in a row in all competitions. The only difference in this game as compared to others in this streak was a shortage of goals.
The North Londoners struggled to get a clear sight of the goal throughout the match. However, Arsenal did take their chance when presented, and it was only their clinical display in front of the goal that ensured all three points. It seemed like a difficult win where, like in most games, there were defensive issues, a dull first half and a glowing second-half performance to ensure victory.
🎶 Win, win, win no matter what 😎
That's now 11 consecutive Ws in all competitions 👊
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) October 25, 2018
It was Danny Welbeck’s goal that made sure Arsenal took all three points away from home at Lisbon before the Portuguese side visits the Emirates. The goal was a gift from the home side after a defensive error from Sebastian Coates presented the ball to Welbeck, with the England forward only needing to put it past the goalkeeper, which he did rather clinically.
The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Unai Emery’s men following yet another performance that yielded three points.
Bernd Leno: 6/10
It was a largely quiet evening for Bernd Leno, with Sporting Lisbon not really threatening all that much. The German custodian made routine saves, kept things tidy when the ball was at his feet and commanded the area rather decently.
Stephan Lichtsteiner: 5/10
Lichtsteiner had an off day against Sporting Lisbon. In the first half, the Swiss veteran struggled to deal with Marcos Acuna’s pace and trickery, but somehow got away without any problems. But, his lack of pace made him a liability for large parts of the game.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 6/10
Back from a short spell on the sidelines, Sokratis showed solid defensive skills at the back. His burst of pace is surprising for a defender of his stature, but he dealt with Acuna and other Sporting attackers well and covered up smartly for Lichtsteiner.
Rob Holding: 6.5/10
A good game from Holding wherein he defended very well once again, especially in the first half. There was sloppiness at times, especially in the second half, and he did not look as composed as he usually is on the pitch and on the ball. But, a good game nonetheless.
Granit Xhaka: 6/10
Xhaka was a surprise selection at left-back, but he performed rather admirably in a position which he is not familiar with. He wasn’t a liability at all, although the Swiss provided little to Arsenal’s attack. On a more pressing note, Arsenal need their regular left-backs to return soon.
Mohamed Elneny: 5.5/10
Initially, it looked like Arsenal were playing three midfielders, but for the most part, it was only Elneny and Matteo Guendouzi deployed in a midfield pivot. Elneny was tidy in possession but had little or no impact in attack. Substituted for Torreira, who instantly came and changed the tempo of the game.
Matteo Guendouzi: 7/10
Guendouzi was named the man-of-the-match after a solid performance in the middle of the park. The Frenchman produced perhaps, his best midfield performance since joining Arsenal in the summer. Despite all the forward passing and controlling of the midfield though, it sometimes felt he held the ball more than it was necessary, although Guendouzi did not commit any dangerous mistakes.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 3.5/10
A poor performance from Mkhitaryan, who created no impact in attack and provided no support in defence. His performances over the last few games have been concerning and something needs to be done to keep the slump in check.
Aaron Ramsey: 6/10
Despite a subdued influence on the overall team performance, Ramsey was by far Arsenal’s most creative outlet. His game till Torreira’s introduction was dull, before later coming to life and somewhat redeeming himself. A decent outing for the Welshman.
Danny Welbeck: 7/10
A higher rating because it was his goal that sealed all three points for Arsenal. Otherwise, Welbeck was anonymous for large parts of the match until the goal that was disallowed. Either way, the manager will be happy that the Englishman was in the right place at the right time to score the crucial goal. Onwards and upwards for Welbeck.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6/10
The only threat Aubameyang posed was with his pace and movements although nothing came off it. Had a few half chances, which were difficult to score from, but provided a good focal point for Arsenal’s otherwise wasteful attackers behind him.
Lucas Torreira: 7/10
Unai Emery has not been appreciated enough for his substitutions this season. He provided another masterclass by introducing Torreira. The Uruguayan instantly changed the tempo of the game and made life more difficult for Sporting. Eventually if one looks at it, it was the overall increase in speed and intensity that forced Sporting into making the error that led to the solitary Arsenal goal.
Alex Iwobi: N/A
Not on the pitch long enough to create an impact in the game.
Alexandre Lacazette: N/A
Came on for Danny Welbeck but did not have much time to do anything in the game.