Glimt of Bodo, my first midweek game of the season, I do enjoy a night game under the floodlights it just seems to be a more dramatic occasion.
Arteta made some changes, not as many as some might have hoped but 8 changes is a lot, and it did have an effect on how Arsenal played. Some of those rotated in certainly had some rust in them their boots, but they needed minutes, and we have a lot of games pending, so needs must.
Turner, Tomiyasu, Tierney, Holding, Vieira, Lokonga, Nketiah and Marquinhos all made their second successive European starts aided by 1st team regulars Xhaka, Gabriel and Martinelli.
Glimt were tall, strong, physical, organised and skillful, they came to play and they were brave, and a credit to their manager and coaching staff. Tonight was no walkover believe me, Arteta was right not to underestimate the Norwegians. The return game on their plastic pitch will be fraught with banana skins, Arsenal will need to be at their best to win in Norway.
Arsenal despite the challenge from the Norsemen pretty much dominated and controlled the 1st 45. Turner didn’t have a save to make and our defence had the Norge pretty much in their pockets despite some slick approach work from the Vikings. Eddie followed up a Tierney shot to settle our nerves with a sharp finish, and then Super Rob Holding headed our second following good work from Vieira.
The 2nd 45 didn’t turnout the same, I don’t know what the Glimt manager said to his players at halftime but it certainly worked, and any hopes of a comfortable conclusion to this tie with one or two youngsters getting a run out disappeared as Glimt put Arsenal under a lot of pressure with some smart approach play and an appetite for a strong challenge that knocked any complacency out of the Gunners. We had to fight for the result for sure.
Arteta despite sending out Matt Smith and Cirjan to warm up had to err on the side of caution, with the lead being only two goals, and went with the more experienced subs, the job needed to be done. As some legs began to wane Arteta brought on Jesus, Saka and Odegaard for Xhaka, Marquinhos and Martinelli. Arteta followed that up with White for Tierney and finally Nelson for Eddie after Nketiah spurned the chance to get his second and secure the tie.
A brilliant mazy run by Jesus and a finish by Vieira sealed the game but I was a tad disappointed that that third goal hadn’t been found earlier as we might have seen Smith and/or Cirjan make their debuts, but a professional job was concluded and we move on to the next challenge.
I was pleased to see Turner make some good saves in the 2nd 45. It’s so difficult for a goalkeeper to find some form when they play so little, so it was encouraging to see him silence some of his doubters – for now anyway.