Marquinhos and Eddie Nketiah were in clinical form as Arsenal secured a 2-1 victory over FC Zurich on Thursday.
Arsenal opened their UEFA Europa League campaign with a win over FC Zurich after goals from Marquinhos and Eddie Nketiah secured the points. Although Mikel Arteta would have expected more from his attackers, it was still a reasonably a straightforward victory, even though the opposition proved tricky with their defensive work.
Zurich set a low block at the back, which the Gunners could not open up frequently. Arteta would have wanted his side to score plenty to get early momentum in the group, but Arsenal could only manage two strikes, which proved enough in the end.
Fabio Vieira released Eddie Nketiah, who had plenty of space to find Marquinhos inside the box after the Brazilian had made an 80-yeard dash from his defensive third to meet the ball. The 19-year-old finished the chance to give Arsenal the lead, marking an emotional moment in his Arsenal career.
Right around the stroke of half-time, Nketiah was unfortunate enough to dangle a leg and concede a penalty. Mirlind Kryeziu equalised from the spot to bring Zurich back into the game. The second half began with Arsenal dominating and searching for another goal to get ahead.
Arsenal held a moment of silence at the start of the second half of their match vs. Zurich following Queen Elizabeth II’s death pic.twitter.com/pyxOtqywOc
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 8, 2022
After thorough probing, the Gunners found the lead as Nketiah headed in Marquinhos’s teasing cross at the far post and nodded it beyond the Zurich keeper. Arteta may have wanted to get possibly another goal, and he sent on Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard, but the Gunners could not find an opening.
Here’s how the Arsenal stars fared in their win over Zurich to begin their Europa League campaign.
Matt Turner: 5.5/10
Turner had a nervy game initially but settled afterwards. There was a moment of concern, and the error could have been lethal. In the end, he would be disappointed not to achieve a clean sheet and has plenty of work ahead to become a more reliable keeper.
Takehiro Tomiyasu: 6.5/10
Tomiyasu put in a typically sound performance and would be delighted to make his first start of the season. While keeping Zurich’s attack in check, he also made some notable contributions in the final third.
Rob Holding: 5.5/10
Holding was a bit aggressive in his approaches but lacked quality on the ball. He probably got away with a challenge right outside the box as the raised flag saved him. Without much defending, the centre-back should have contributed more in possession.
Gabriel Magalhaes: 6/10
Gabriel continues to make silly errors at the back, which a stronger team may otherwise punish the team. He did his defensive duties well and proved difficult for Zurich attackers to get past.
Kieran Tierney: 7/10
Tierney is learning the ropes of a new style under Arteta as the left-back finds space to enter the box repeatedly. He was always an outlet on the left side while taking up central positions occasionally.
Albert Sambi Lokonga: 6/10
Lokonga was a steady presence in midfield and made the team tick. The Belgian midfielder visibly was more conscious of his defensive work; he did look over ambitious at times which could be down to the quality of the opposition.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10
There is no rest in sight for Granit Xhaka, who continues to feature heavily for Arsenal. The Swiss midfielder put in a solid display in midfield as he continued bringing something different to their final-third activities.
Fabio Vieira: 7/10
Arteta will be happy with Vieira’s contribution on his first start. The Portuguese playmaker opened up the game with a superb pass for Eddie Nketiah to set up the first goal and proved a threat to the Zurich defence. Arsenal have invested wisely in the attacking midfielder, and there is more to come.
? Off the mark in the @EuropaLeague
? Marquinhos becomes the first player to score on his debut since Charlie Patino in December 2021
? 0-1 ⚫️ (37) pic.twitter.com/vLDz1YNNVe
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 8, 2022
Marquinhos would not have dreamt of such a start to life at Arsenal. On his first start, the 19-year-old produced an output-driven performance notching a goal and assist to his name. The Brazilian opened the scoring after making a darting run from a distance and then turned provider for Nketiah’s goal with a teasing cross. Arteta will give him more games.
Eddie Nketiah: 8/10
Nketiah opened his account for this season with a brilliant header at the far post to give Arsenal the advantage. The striker led the line well and was unfortunate to concede the penalty. That incident was just a blip as he proved his efficiency with a goal and an assist to cap off a terrific performance.
— ebere✪ (@Emmanulagu) September 8, 2022
Gabriel Martinelli: 5/10
There were questions asked of Arteta on why he let Martinelli get these many minutes when he could have rested him a bit. The Brazilian was not at his best, and although there were some opportunities to score, he did not take them well.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 6/10
Zinchenko brought about technical stability in the side, as Arteta wanted to give him more minutes after his recent injury.
Martin Odegaard: 5/10
Odegaard replaced Vieira as Arteta wanted to keep the Norwegian sharp for the games ahead.
Bukayo Saka: 5.5/10
Bringing Saka and Gabriel Jesus on attracted some criticism on social media, but this turned out to be a harmless outing for the forward.
Gabriel Jesus: 6/10
Jesus increased Arsenal’s threat level on the front, as Arteta was keen on getting another goal to kill the game.