Bukayo Saka injured as Arsenal dominate Sevilla to take control of Champions League group


A cold night in North London but Arsenal were keen to warm things up in their fourth Champions League group stage game. Sevilla arrived having pushed Arsenal close in Spain a couple of weeks ago but after the injustices of Newcastle, it was clear that Arsenal wanted to put things to bed.

Mikel Arteta was, of course, the focus of much talk in the week and there was even a hint of a strategy to approach the officials which was noticeable for the first time. But the performance from the Gunners was a strong one which, if replicated, can certainly be a bedrock for things to come.

Arsenal started off with the early chances in the game from two set pieces, certainly moments which have been in the Gunners' favour somewhat during Mikel Arteta’s tenure. Nicolas Jover has been a regular fixture on the touchline and despite criticism from pundits, his impact has clearly been felt.

First, Kai Havertz had the chance to kick the game and his confidence into the perfect direction but headed wide from a corner. Shortly after, a free-kick into the box found Gabriel Magalhaes but the Brazilian headed wide of the other post.

The constant fouling of Bukayo Saka by several different Sevilla players was a regular fixture of the first half. Arteta was seen getting particularly irate on the sidelines, but let his right-hand man have conversations with the fourth official.

However Arsenal were unable to take advantage of these set pieces. Saka firing a shot high and wide and a short option was eventually headed clear by the visitors.

READ MORE: Arsenal reminded of William Saliba injury risk as rival defender 'out for months' in title blow

READ MORE: Arsenal vs Sevilla LIVE - Kick-off time, TV channel, team news, live stream details

The England international was then down in the box claiming a penalty kick but the referee and VAR deemed the winger to have gone down too easily. Kai Havertz also came off second best in another challenge but the calls were waved away.

But it wasn’t long until Arsenal were able to break the deadlock. Declan Rice characteristically won back possession in the opposition half before the ball was worked to Jorginho and his pinpoint pass through the Sevilla defence found Saka, whose pass across was perfect for Leandro Trossard to tap into the net. Gorgeous.

Arsenal then needed to defend first and William Saliba was on hand to do just that. Adria Pedrosa looked clean through on David Raya’s goal, bursting through the middle of the centre-halves but the Frenchman was there to slide in and tap the ball back to his keeper in what was just another episode of a masterclass from a player with no right to be this good and this consistent at this age – ludicrously brilliant.

The second half started much like the first with the Gunners very much on top. A good chance coming early to Havertz after Saka had burst clear down the right flank, checking back before switching the play to the German but his strike was blocked.

He then had another chance soon after. Cutting onto his left foot before curling an effort around Dmitrovic’s right-post; so close to a massive moment once again for the player who needs it more than any other.

When the chance fell to Saka to do the same, he made no mistake. Showcasing his speed initially to sprint away from the Sevilla defence, he cut back flooring the full-back before slamming the ball into the back of the net – that’s the Saka we know and love.

The big news of the night outside of the win, however, was sadly the substitution of Saka. After a night of constant kicks and flying challenges he was brought off 85 minutes; the hope will be that, like Bournemouth, that this is not too serious and just precautionary.

With him off, Jakub Kiwior came on and Oleksandr Zinchenko moved into midfield. An interesting tactical tweak that plenty of supporters have been calling for.

But the night ended with he Gunners four points clear at the top of Group B knowing that a win over RC Lens in their next game will see them confirmed as group winners with a game to spare. Something which with a hectic Christmas schedule coming will be like a present come early.

football.london Arsenal WhatsApp channel

Mikel Arteta celebrates Arsenal's recent Premier League victory over Manchester City

Want to keep up to date with the breaking and important Arsenal stories whilst on the move? Well now you can!

Click this link to follow the football.london Arsenal WhatsApp channel, where you'll be kept up to date on the latest Gunners news wherever you are.

Just remember to turn on the notifications once you've followed, and you won't miss a beat!

Adblock test (Why?)