Despite fielding a heavily rotated side, Arsenal continued their impressive start to the season with a 3-0 victory over Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League. Several fringe stars impressed on the night, with Eddie Nketiah justifying why he is unhappy with his lack of minutes at the moment.
The striker was on hand to slot home from close range to open the scoring in the 23rd minute, after Kieran Tierney’s fierce strike rebounded out off the post. Arteta’s side then doubled their lead just four minutes later as Rob Holding steered home his header following a cross from Fabio Vieira.
Gabriel Jesus then came off of the bench to show why he is being touted as one of the signings of the summer by the Gunners, weaving his way past several defenders before teeing the ball back for Vieira to smash home.
Bodo/Glimt provided Arteta with the ideal opportunity to rest some of his important stars whilst also giving those on the fringes of the first team a strong test given that the Norwegian side were no pushovers. The match certainly showed who could feature more regularly in the Premier League.
Express Sport takes a look at five things learned at the Emirates Stadium…
Reiss Nelson still not ready
Arteta was heaping the praise on winger Reiss Nelson in the build-up to this Europa League tie, yet the youngster only featured for eight minutes on the night. The England Under-21s star was reportedly available for the match having returned from injury at the weekend, though it was decided against playing the forward – unless Arteta is planning on him featuring for an extended time this weekend against Liverpool at the weekend.
Nelson spent last season out on loan with Eredivisie outfit Feyenoord and was brought back with the intention of giving the 22-year-old the ‘opportunity’ to earn a new contract with his boyhood club. Though if Marquinhos remains a preferred option on the wing, it is hard to see when Nelson may get many better chances to prove his worth given the nature of the opposition on Thursday night. He was a bright spark when he came off the bench, being played through the middle, though it will be taken with a pinch of salt by many given the result was a foregone conclusion at that stage.
Nketiah a man of his word
Earlier this week, Nketiah spoke of how he was frustrated with his lack of opportunities at Arsenal since putting pen to paper on a deal. He admitted: “The coach has a tough decision and it is up to me to keep working when I get the opportunity, on the field or in training, to show why I should be playing.”
With a point to prove, Nketiah returned to the Arsenal team in great form and proved that he was still a valuable asset in the final third. His poacher’s instinct and willingness to link up with players and create space for his teammates emulated the work of Gabriel Jesus so far this season, and Arteta could be tempted to rotate the pair more frequently with that in mind.
Knutsen continues to put himself on the map
After Graham Potter’s departure, Brighton were heavily linked with appointing Kjetil Knutsen as their new manager and heavily considered the Norwegian boss before opting for Roberto De Zerbi. Although the defeat, Bodo/Glimt did take the game to Arsenal on some occasions, which will leave some pondering how Knutsen would fare with access to better players and facilities.
With Wolves looking to appoint a manager, despite Julen Lopetegui being a firm favourite, and Nottingham Forest and Southampton potentially looking for a change of face in the dugout, Knutsen could find himself on several shortlists soon.
Vieira proves his worth
Vieira was excellent in the No 10 role for Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and will certainly pose Arteta a team selection headache over the coming weeks. The Portuguese playmaker created three chances against the Norwegian side, having five shots as well, as he staked his claim as to why he should feature more regularly in the Premier League – with his late goal the icing on the cake for the 22-year-old.
The former Porto star has just 115 minutes of league football to his name so far this season, with captain Martin Odegaard not allowing his teammate to really get a look in. However, with so many games on the horizon, Arteta will certainly have no fears about a switch-up in the final third after Vieira’s inspiring display.
Jesus and Nketiah partnership trialled
Arteta spoke of how Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus could be used as a partnership rather than being seen as players competing for the same spot in the starting eleven, and he showed that on Thursday. The pair were given 20 minutes together, with Jesus being subbed on for Gabriel Martinelli to play on the left wing.
Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1 system doesn’t facilitate both players starting in a central role but Jesus proved during his time at Manchester City that he can be versatile and equally as threatening when deployed on the wing. The Brazilian international showed just how influential he can be in that left-wing role late on when he provided an excellent assist for Vieira’s goal, and Arteta could decide that the two could cause Liverpool’s shaky defence some serious issues this weekend.