Sheffield United
West Bromwich Albion
11:45 AM UTC
Game Details

Late moment of brilliance from Olivier Giroud keeps Arsenal perfect in Europe

A rare moment of quality just minutes from the end gave Arsenal their third successive win in the Europa League this season. It was a game that did little to excite fans of either side, although Petr Cech had to make a couple of smart first half saves.

To say it was dull would be to do dull a disservice but as it looked as if the game would end in a stalemate, the Gunners produced a goal of the highest quality. Jack Wilshere was involved, bursting through the Serbian side's defence, before trading passes with Theo Walcott.

The England winger nodded the ball across goal and saw it acrobatically hooked into the top corner by Olivier Giroud. It was a goal worthy of winning any game and in a match bereft of anything to get excited about, Arsene Wenger will be happy his experienced men came up with the goods.  

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Game Details


Cech's first-half interventions ensured Arsenal weren't put on the back foot by the home side, but the main bright spot was Jack Wilshere. The midfielder looked head and shoulders better than those around him -- not simply because there were kids in the Arsenal team, but because he had the spark of invention and quality in the ball you need.


Basically the entire game up to the goal. Of course there are mitigating circumstances, Arsenal played a makeshift side, with players out of position all over the pitch, but it's also a chance for some of the fringe players to catch the manager's eye and not too many did that.

Manager rating out of 10

6 -- Wenger's team selection was informed by a trip to Everton on Sunday and a game against Norwich on Tuesday, but he might have expected better from some. Still, a win is a win and Arsenal maintained their 100 percent record t in the Europa League this season.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Petr Cech, 7 -- Not overly troubled, made some good saves in the first half and was calm and assured under crosses and set pieces.

DF Mathieu Debuchy, 6 -- The first time he's completed 90 minutes for Arsenal since Nov. 2015. Did well enough, even if he looked tired by the end.

DF Mohamed Elneny, 5 -- Wenger's need to keep the likes of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny fresh for the Premier League meant the Egyptian was pressed into service as the defensive anchorman. Delivered a Ron Burgundy performance.

DF Rob Holding, 6 -- Solid overall, used the ball well, looked to make forward passes more than some of those around him.

MF Reiss Nelson, 6 -- He showed some exciting flashes at times, but given he's an attacking midfield player he finds it hard to showcase his talent in a more defensive role.

MF Francis Coquelin, 5 -- His first game for some time, looked rusty, his control was off, but did work hard.

Olivier Giroud netted late on to win it for Arsenal.
Olivier Giroud was not at his best but produced a moment of magic to deliver Arsenal all three points.

MF Joe Willock, 6 -- The youngster faded as the game went on and had to go off with cramp, but he looks unfazed in midfield and looks to have a clever turn at times.

MF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 6 -- He's a defensive midfielder playing at wing-back, so like Nelson he is out of position and at times it shows. His pace was obvious as he snuffed out some danger in the Gunners final third.

MF Jack Wilshere, 8 -- He has invention, vision, and looks to be getting that turn of speed back which allows him to break through the lines and cause danger. Would have been more effective with different players ahead of him.

MF Theo Walcott, 5 -- Missed a good chance early in the game, and found it hard to make any kind of positive impact. His headed assist doesn't do enough to offset what was a poor performance overall.

FW Oliver Giroud, 6 -- The finish was superb, and we know he has that in his locker, but like Walcott he had a stinker of a night for the most part.


MF Marcus McGuane, NR -- Came on late for a cramped Willock.

MF Ben Sheaf, NR -- Replaced Coquelin who also appeared to pick up a knock

Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.


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