By the time the Bleacher Report Live platform sorted out the streaming issues, which was sometime around the 25th minute, this one was already over. Arsenal were up three on Standard Liège and the visitors had packed it in. Dani Ceballos would add a fourth in the second half. Truth be told, the Gunners could have had 6 or 7 but for missed chances and blocked shots.
Standard Liège were never really in the match; they just didn’t look up to it. It’s tough to say whether that was because Arsenal scored two in the first 16 minutes of the game or because they weren’t ready for the level of play. They were outclassed at every position on the pitch and outplayed for every yard of territory on the ground. This match was not close.
As much as I want to predict that Gabriel Martinelli will be taking Neymar’s spot on the Brazilian and Kieran Tierney is ready to pip Andy Robertson for Scotland (wait, that one might actually happen), I’d encourage us all to remember against who those guys just looked like worldbeaters.
That said, they both put in exceptional performances on the evening. Martinelli has an unbelievably high workrate and a knack for finding both the open space and the ball in the area. He is also surprisingly good in the air. He’s only 5’11 but his technique is tremendous. The angle at which he redirected Kieran Tierney’s cross for the first goal was tighter than the platform at the Arsenal tube station after a match.
Kieran Tierney’s service has been a revelation. Every ball he puts into the area seems like it could end up in the back of the net. It’s in large part because of his vision. I watched him closely tonight — he checks to see where and to whom he should serve the ball as he is making his run and before he receives a pass. It’s a simple thing but it makes a world of difference. I’m interested to see how he fares against tougher opposition with more of an attacking threat coming the other way at him.
I don’t like bringing down the mood by harping on the manager after a convincing win, but two of Unai Emery’s three substitutions made absolutely no sense. I can understand bringing Nicolas Pépé on to give him a chance to build his confidence and find his game in the midst of a difficult start to the season. But why bring on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Matteo Guendouzi, your best and arguably second best player this season, up 4-0 with nothing on the line? Only bad things can come of that.
Tonight’s win gives Arsenal a commanding grip on their Europa League group. So long as his side is on top, Unai Emery can continue to use the Europa League to give younger players runouts and to rotate the squad. The Gunners are next in action at the weekend home to Bournemouth before the international break.