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 By Tom Adams

Youngsters Matt Macey, Reiss Nelson impress in Europa draw vs. Red Star

Arsenal qualified for the last-32 of the Europa League but hardly did so in style, clinging on for a 0-0 draw at home to Red Star Belgrade in front of a half-empty and half-hearted Emirates Stadium.

Arsene Wenger's team offered little to excite the fans. Jack Wilshere had a shot cleared off the line in the second half but Arsenal's second string had too little quality as they failed to win for the first time in six cup games this season.

Red Star should have taken all three points, but Richmond Boakye wasted two giant chances. In the end, a draw was all Arsenal needed.

Red Star BelgradeRed Star Belgrade
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Arsenal are through to the last-32 with two games to spare. Their first-teamers had another evening's rest and the youngsters and fringe players banked more playing time. From that point of view this was a productive night's work.


The performance. Arsenal were pretty insipid and the supporters were unimpressed with many booing at the final whistle. The defence looked very vulnerable to pace and the midfield and attack created too little. This was not up to standard.

Manager rating out of 10

6 -- Arsene Wenger did little wrong. He took a calculated gamble by picking a weakened team again and although Arsenal did not win, they achieved all their other basic objectives. He could have had some better players in reserve to bring off the bench and infect some quality, but the starting XI should have been good enough to get three points.

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

GK Matt Macey, 6 -- Looked very nervous when, after five minutes, a terrible attempted clearance almost gave a goal away. Got himself in trouble on 37 minutes as he hesitated to deal with a high ball but made amends by tipping the subsequent header from Vujadin Savic onto the bar. Looked assured thereafter.

DF Mathieu Debuchy, 5 -- His lack of pace was a problem as Arsenal were opened up repeatedly at the back.

DF Mohamed Elneny, 6 -- Looked surprisingly at home in the centre of the back three and ensured Arsenal distributed the ball effectively from the back -- aside from some wayward long-range passes. Wandered forward at will, perhaps too much.

DF Rob Holding, 5 -- Rescued Macey after his early mistake with a fine tackle but was lucky to see Boakye fire horribly wide later in the first half when the forward nipped in behind him. Arsenal looked very vulnerable in his area.

MF Reiss Nelson, 6 -- Looked uncertain of his position at times but when he had the ball at his feet he could do little wrong. He rarely took the wrong option and added dynamism on the flank.

Third-string keeper Matt Macey made his first European start and looked good, after some initial hesitation, against Red Star.

MF Francis Coquelin, 4 -- Gave away possession far too frequently for a central midfielder. His technique seems to be breaking down and on this evidence he is a long way off a proper first-team role. Was awful for much of the night.

MF Joe Willock, 5 -- Didn't always take the right choice in the final third but showed good initiative to win possession and play in Giroud with a neat pass on 34 minutes. Always game, but needs to sharpen up a bit.

MF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 6 -- The youngster too often left space in behind but combined nicely in attack. Is dangerous when darting into the box and always had a positive attitude.

FW Theo Walcott, 5 -- Offered too little as a member of the front three. Briefly sprang to life when he flashed a header wide with 14 minutes to go.

FW Olivier Giroud, 5 -- Had a golden chance to open the scoring after 10 minutes but saw his shot saved. Denied again on 34 minutes when Willock put him through. His presence encouraged Arsenal to go long. It didn't work.

FW Jack Wilshere, 6 -- Notionally on the left of the attack but had licence to roam where he wished. Wilshere was keen to make a big impression after being left out of the England squad and had a scooped shot acrobatically cleared off the line after 64 minutes. It just didn't quite happen for him and he dropped back into midfield.


Eddie Nketiah (for Willock, 68), 6 -- He came on as a left-sided forward as Wilshere moved into midfield. Buzzed around the box a bit but never threatened the goal.

Tom is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @tomEurosport


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