Lucas Torreira excels, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back in the goals as Arsenal cruise in Europe
Unai Emery's first European game as Arsenal head coach ended in a 4-2 home win over Vorskla, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring twice.
It was an insipid first half hour but the game sprung to life on 32 minutes when Arsenal profited from a miscalculated dummy to launch a rapid counter-attack, finished off by Aubameyang. Danny Welbeck claimed his second of the season when heading home after 48 minutes and Aubameyang made it three as Vorskla continued to crumble on 56 minutes, curling home a precise finish.
Emery made three changes before 70 minutes and one of his substitutes, Mesut Ozil, soon claimed his second goal in two games with a clever finish. But Arsenal were denied a clean sheet on 76 minutes of their Group E opener when Volodymyr Chesnakov pounced on some unconvincing defending from Stephan Lichtsteiner. Vyacheslav Sharpar then added a second in injury time.
The main objective of the evening seemed to be to get some goals from Aubameyang and he duly obliged. After a poor opening 30 minutes, Arsenal stepped things up decisively and looked sharp going forward with all the main attackers contributing goals or assists. Newcomer Lucas Torreira also pushed his claims for a Premier League start with an impressive showing.
Emery is still without his first clean sheet as Arsenal manager and conceding twice to such a limited team will have irked him.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Emery got his team selection spot on as he made eight changes and saw his heavily-rotated side come up with a convincing win. Picking Aubameyang paid off as he filled his boots and Torreira also took his chance to impress from the start. The opposition were poor but, an unconvincing start aside, this was a pleasing evening's work. He even gave a nod to the youth system with a senior debut for Emile Smith-Rowe.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 6 -- Made his first appearance following his summer move from Bayer Leverkusen and looked more at ease than Cech when asked to play out from the back. Had little to do and the Vorskla goals gave him no real chance.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 6 -- The 34-year-old made his first start of the season and was found wanting for Vorskla's first goal as he got the ball caught under him. Bagged an assist for Ozil though.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 7 -- This was an attentive and tidy performance from the summer signing. Wasn't pressed into action too often but did play a role in the fourth goal with a delicious dinked pass into the box for Lichtsteiner.
DF Rob Holding, 6 -- Acquitted himself well throughout. Needed to show Emery what he was capable of.
DF Nacho Monreal, 7 -- Captain for the day, Monreal barely put a foot wrong. Took advantage of the weak opposition to push on with regularity and join the attack.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 6 -- Has barely been seen under Emery but put in a typically tidy performance without ever shining.
MF Lucas Torreira, 8 -- Showed why fans are clamouring for his inclusion on a regular basis with a performance of real class in deep midfield. Torreira's passing was crisp and accurate; he soldiered on after a kick to the ankle; and he even struck a fierce free kick into the side netting. Lots to admire.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 7 -- Grew into the game slowly and showed his first real flicker of quality when seeing a rasping effort saved on the brink of half-time. Enjoyed having the run of central areas and set up Welbeck for the second with a fine cross before playing in Aubameyang for the third.
MF Danny Welbeck, 7 -- Capitalised on a rare start with a goal when he directed a header home early in the second half. He worked hard in a wide role and will have done his standing with Emery no end of good.
MF Alex Iwobi, 8 -- Worked hard wide on the left and supplied the assist for the opening goal with a well-judged centre for Aubameyang. This was an influential performance and he provided balance on the left, tying play together.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 8 -- Arsenal's record signing wasn't the natural candidate to start in the Europa League but he was in to boost his confidence and did just that. Aubameyang put Arsenal in front with his sliding finish in the first half, smacked the bottom of the post before the half was out and curled home his second before being removed.
FW Mesut Ozil (on for Aubameyang, 57), 7 -- Scored 17 minutes after his introduction with a smart finish on the half-volley.
MF Matteo Guendouzi (on for Torreira, 57), 6 -- Tried hard to impress and often looked for an ambitious forward pass.
MF Emile Smith-Rowe (on for Iwobi, 70), 6 -- Had some bright moments.