Arsenal’s 100 percent record in the UEFA Europa League came to a halt on Thursday night, as Sporting Lisbon held them to a 0-0 draw at the Emirates.
Arsenal qualified for the Round of 32 stage of the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League, despite being held to a goalless draw by ten-man Sporting Lisbon at home this week.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery fielded a heavily rotated side, making as many as nine changes to the team that started against Liverpool in the Premier League at the weekend. An uneventful first half followed, as both teams struggled to create any meaningful opportunities, with Danny Welbeck’s unfortunate ankle injury in the 25th minute being the only notable moment.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck the woodwork after the break and had another attempt blocked as Arsenal tried to find a way through the visitors’ defence, but to no avail. With less than five minutes on the clock, Jeremy Mathieu was shown a red card after fouling Aubameyang, who was through on goal, but the Gunners failed to capitalize on their numerical advantage.
The draw was, however, enough for Emery’s side to seal qualification to the knockout stages of the competition, while they also extended their unbeaten run to 15 matches across all competitions.
😟 No goals at Emirates Stadium…
But we have secured our qualification for the knockout stages ✅
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 8, 2018
Here’s how the Arsenal players fared on a disappointing night at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
Petr Cech: 6/10
The veteran stopper, handed a start ahead of Bernd Leno, had very little to do on the night, given the Portuguese outfit had no shots on target in the game. Used the ball well when in possession and was alert when needed to be.
Stephan Lichtsteiner: 7/10
The Swiss full-back, starting in place of Hector Bellerin, got up and down the right flank with good energy and delivered a couple of very good crosses into the box. Was solid defensively as well, dealing with the pace of Nani without any trouble. Hobbled off with an injury late in the game.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 7/10
Back from injury, the Greek international put in a commanding display at the heart of the defence for the North Londoners. Organised things well at the back, stayed alert to whatever little threat the visitors posed, producing a couple of important blocks. A solid return for the seasoned campaigner.
Rob Holding: 7/10
The young Englishman continues to get better with each passing game. Holding hardly put a foot wrong on Thursday night, in what was another composed and steady display. Defended solidly, with his block on Fredy Montero’s effort being a critical moment, while his use of possession was sharp and purposeful as well. Growing in confidence.
Carl Jenkinson: 6/10
The forgotten man got another chance at left-back and while he did not stand out on the night, he did not do much wrong either. Did not always look at home on his weaker side, but tried to get forward and had a couple of poor lashed efforts at goal. Defended steadily, before being replaced at the hour mark.
Aaron Ramsey: 5.5/10
Starting in a more withdrawn role in the middle of the park, the Welshman did some solid work defensively, but failed to make much of an impact in the attacking half of the pitch, much to the disappointment of the home support. Looked to get involved and kept things ticking, but was guilty of trying a little too much on occasions.
Matteo Guendouzi: 7/10
Back into the team after his suspension for the weekend game against Liverpool, the youngster was once again very impressive. Industrious in the middle, kept the ball moving with sharp and accurate passes, while screening his back four effectively. Booked late on for a foul on Nani.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 5/10
Another hit and a miss outing from the Armenian, as has been the case for almost the entirety of his spell in England. Created the chance for Aubameyang after the break and had the opportunity to score himself late on, but failed to take it. On the periphery for the rest of the game.
Emile Smith Rowe: 6/10
Always looking to get on the ball, Smith Rowe produced some neat touches and bright moments of skill, but failed to break through the Sporting defence. Not the most impactful display from the teenager, but one filled with lots of endeavour as he, once again, gave a good account of himself on the big stage.
Alex Iwobi: 6/10
Handed a start after his sprightly cameo against Liverpool, the Nigerian looked confident as he ran at the defenders each time he was on the ball, but was well-dealt with by the opposition. Little came off for him on the night, but that didn’t stop him from trying. Worked very hard without the ball as well.
Danny Welbeck: N/A
The hero of the previous meeting between the two sides, Welbeck started brightly and looked to cause some problems to the visitors, until he had to be stretchered off close to the half hour mark due to a serious-looking ankle injury.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6/10
Came on for the injured Welbeck just half an hour into the game. Hit the woodwork a minute into the second half and posed a threat to the Sporting backline with his pace. Should have done better with an effort from which he hit the side netting and wasted the late free-kick as well.
Sead Kolasinac: 6/10
Replaced Jenkinson for the last half an hour. Offered a decent outlet down the left side.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: N/A
Came on to replace Lichtsteiner for the final fifteen minutes.