A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hattrick at the Mestalla sealed a place for Arsenal in the Europa League Final in Baku.
Arsenal fans couldn’t have asked for a better response to their side’s terrible domestic form as the Gunners reached the Europa League final in Baku where they would now face London rivals Chelsea for the title. To reach the Final, Arsenal had to overcome a strong Valencia side, although the Premier League side triumphed emphatically with a 7-3 aggregate score in the end.
At the Mestalla, Arsenal finished the tie with a 2-4 win over Valencia with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring his first hattrick for the club, while Alexandre Lacazette also got on the scoresheet. In fact, taking both the legs into account, Arsenal scored 7 goals to Valencia’s three and all those goals were scored by the Gunners’ strike pair. Lacazette scored a brace at the Emirates, where the Gabon striker got one.
So the win takes Arsenal to Baku for the Final, and it would come as a chance for redemption after the North Londoners blew their golden chance of finishing in the top four with a run of four games without a victory, which included three consecutive defeats. Can Arsenal qualify for the Champions League by Europa League in Baku? That question should be answered with an excellent final performance.
For now, let’s take a look at how Arsenal’s players rated against Valencia.
Petr Cech – 6.5
A good day for Petr Cech who probably might have played the second-last game of his glittering career, considering he starts the Final or possibly even the last Premier League game of the season. Against Valencia he was grand, but some might feel he could have done more for the second goal by Gameiro.
Sokratis – 6
Still not at his best as some defensive lapses in the game could have proved costly. In fact, it did, and that’s how Valencia opened the scoring, but thanks to Arsenal’s attack those frailties were overshadowed.
Laurent Koscielny – 7.5
This game is a fitting tribute to Koscielny’s leadership, considering all things including his age and most importantly his gruesome injury in this exact fixture a year ago. Was by far the best Arsenal defender at the back, while he and everyone else at the club would be proud of what he has achieved taking Arsenal into the Europa League final.
Nacho Monreal – 5
Not one of Monreal’s best days on the pitch as he was majorly at fault for both of Valencia’s goal. His play forward was something that made up for his defensive problems, but he also showed awareness in possession. Needs to improve or Emery could prefer Mustafi in his place for the Final.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 6
Struggled in the first half to contain Gaya and Guedes on his side, although little help from Aubameyang helped with matters. He repaid the striker’s commitment with an assist for the third Arsenal goal. His second half performances were fantastic though.
Sead Kolasinac – 4
Bad day for Kolasinac as he was defensively and offensively weak. Completely switched off for the second goal and could be the case of wrong positioning. Offensively failed to offer much to Arsenal’s cause in attack as none of the goals came from his side.
Lucas Torreira – 7
After early struggles in the game, settled in fantastically and made sure he controlled the midfield as much as possible. There could have been better passing from Torreira, although none of his play ended in errors or gifts to the opposition. His rating is more because of the move when he won the ball and fed it to Lacazette for the second goal.
Granit Xhaka – 5
Never could settle himself in the game during the first half, although did so in the second period. In spite of that, Xhaka never could influence his team like in some games he’s done this season, especially with his possession and passing. Defensively he was not good but certainly not a liability for his side, while him making some sloppy passes that could have hurt Arsenal was a piece of horrific play.
Mesut Ozil – 6.5
Not the best of starts, but grew in his mould as the game went on. His play with the ball was fantastic, while he gave Arsenal’s attack a different dimension with his creativity and possession. Made an excellent chance for Aubameyang in the first half. Taken off for Mkhitaryan and on his way out made an ‘shhhhh’ gesture towards Valencia fans. Overall a tidy performance.
Alexandre Lacazette – 8.5
Time and again he proves why he is by far the most valuable player in this current Arsenal side with his all-round performances. Worked really hard on and off the ball. Provided the assist for Aubameyang’s first goal and then scored himself with a fantastic finish. Top class performance from Lacazette.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 9.5
He’s known for goals, but there have been some games this season where he contributed to all aspects of the game. Against Valencia, it was a similar story as he helped Maitland-Niles with defending the right side, while he was involved in so many things. Won the ball many times, and his trickery was all there to see. But most importantly he scored the hattrick that took Arsenal into the final, and all three goals were brilliant finishes.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 5.5
At first, taking off Ozil for Mkhitaryan looked puzzling, and sure it was because overall Mkhitaryan had no impact on the game whatsoever. However, his pass for Aubameyang’s goal which secured him an assist cannot be ignored, so the higher ratings for the Armenian.
Shkodran Mustafi – 5.5
Came on to replace the struggling Monreal and did fine against his former club.
Matteo Guendouzi – N/A
Actually not long enough to be rated, but was sent to keep control of the midfield and did his job.