Young Gunners on target as Arsenal make winning start in Europa League
3-0 win against Eintracht Frankfurt ahead of Villa clash at the Emirates Stadium
20 September, 2019 — By Steve Barnett
IT proved a great night for the Arsenal academy last night (Thursday) as graduates Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka both scored in the club’s Europa League opener in Germany.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was also on target as the Gunners eventually ran out 3-0 winners at the Commerzbank Arena to become the first English club to beat Eintracht Frankfurt on their own turf.
Head coach Unai Emery turned to youth as he made seven changes from the side that drew at Watford at the weekend, bringing in Willock, Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe.
Arsenal had squandered a hat-trick of good chances before Willock finally broke the deadlock towards the end of the first half. The 20-year-old midfielder raced on to Saka’s pass before cutting inside two defenders and unleashing a shot that deflected in off defender David Abraham via the crossbar.
Despite both teams creating, and wasting, a host of good chances, it remained 1-0 until a frantic final 10 minutes.
Frankfurt’s Dominik Kohr was sent off for two bookable offences in the 79th minute and Arsenal took full advantage.
Six minutes later 18-year-old Saka scored a screamer, curling a sumptuous effort into the bottom corner from all of 20 yards. Aubameyang then got in on the act, wrapping up the win with Arsenal’s third as last season’s beaten finalists kicked off their Europa League campaign with a deserved victory.
While going forward the Gunners always looked dangerous, defensively they again looked far too fragile. They had Emiliano Martinez to thank for keeping a clean sheet – along with Frankfurt’s wayward finishing.
The 27-year-old shot-stopper pulled off a string of fine saves that on another night would have earned him the man-of-the-match award, had it not been for Saka’s shining performance.
The 3-0 win means Emery’s side sit top of the early Group F table on goal-difference after Standard Liege beat Vitoria 2-0 in the night’s other game.
Arsenal will now turn their attentions to their Premier League game against Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, before resuming their Europa League campaign when they host Standard Liege on October 3.