Arsenal wins 2-0. Sevilla: Saka set up Leandro Trossard’s goal and then increased Arsenal’s advantage, although Mikel Arteta will be concerned about a second-half injury.
Following the controversy, Arsenal secured an easy victory and the opportunity to shine in the Champions League. The hosts needed this, a night to vent their wrath after back-to-back defeats in the Carabao Cup and Premier League, and they got it thanks to a brace of stunning displays from Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.
A straightforward win over a mediocre Sevilla team that, at current pace, would struggle to return to the Europa League gave Mikel Arteta some comfort and placed the Gunners in the last-16.
Arsenal have had a terrible week, but Saka and Martinelli have brought Arteta’s team back to life. Injuries have struck and an unsettling decline in form has followed among certain players of Arteta’s squad, but Saka and Martinelli were unstoppable.
Arsenal’s soaring wingers were liberated at the Emirates after being shackled and doubled-up on in the contentious 1-0 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday night; Sevilla’s full-backs, Juanlu and Kike Salas, could at least comfort each other after they both experienced terrible nights.
Saka was outstanding, though his late substitute following an uncomfortable landing threatened to aggravate Arteta’s temper and may knock him out of Gareth Southgate’s England side when it is revealed on Thursday afternoon.
At the very least, it assured he received a well-deserved standing ovation as he made his way around the Emirates pitch. Saka’s precise finish into the corner to increase Arsenal’s advantage halted a six-game goalless streak. Saka also set up Leandro Trossard’s opening, and it was his movement that directed Jorginho’s brilliantly cutting pass that separated Sevilla.
Sevilla had tried their best to stop Saka in his tracks, committing four fouls on the England winger inside the opening 17 minutes alone, but the 22-year-old’s persistence was rewarded as he escaped the reach of Salas and squared to Trossard for the simplest of finishes.
Martinelli was just as dangerous on the other side, with his twists and turns proving tough to contain as he easily beat Juanlu to the byline on multiple occasions.
Martinelli’s goal was set up by a deft run that picked up Oleksandr Zinchenko’s swift throw-in on the half-way line. As Arsenal moved away at breakneck pace, Martinelli slid Saka through, and the 22-year-old needed no invitation to fire after cutting inside the naïve Adria Pedrosa, who lunged into the challenge.
Sevilla were kept to a single moment of danger in each half, neither led to David Raya requiring to make a save. First William Saliba recovered superbly to pinch the ball from Pedrosa, who threatened to wake Raya from his first-half slumber after being released through on goal. Perhaps Saliba had fallen asleep after half time when he was brushed aside by Youssef En-Nesyri, only for the striker to hesitate and fail to produce either a finish or a pass when Raya was brought from his line.
Arsenal, on the other hand, were always at ease. Zinchenko pushed Dmitrovic into a save with a stinging volley, but Arsenal, with the exception of Saka and Martinelli, did not need to shift out of second gear.
The sight of Saka walking off after pushing for a high ball will worry both Arteta and Southgate, but after a week that included a Carabao Cup elimination and the “disgrace” of Newcastle, Arteta will be grateful for a simple evening. The last-16 draw has been delayed due to PSV’s victory against Lens, but Arsenal are almost there.