Arsenal beat Bodo/Glimt: Four things learned as one Gunners star 'different class' in win


Arsenal weren’t at their swaggering best but got the job done in grinding out a 1-0 win against Norwegian champions Bodo/Glimt on Thursday night. The Gunners made it three wins from three in the Europa League with Bukayo Saka’s fourth goal of the season which came in the first half via a fortuitous rebound. Express Sport looks at four main takeaways from the match.

Gunners pass the test

This was not a walkover win for Arsenal, make no mistake. The name Bodo/Glimt may not have much prestige but they are a dangerous team nonetheless, especially at their home stadium. They had managed 14 consecutive home wins in European competitions before this and they tested the Gunners in the second 45.

Their plastic pitch, and the cold conditions in the Norwegian town just north of the Arctic Circle, posed a unique challenge to the visitors. Arsenal comfortably rose to that challenge in a controlled first half, albeit one without too much action.

Bodo/Glimt improved after the break and had several chances to score after a lull in the away team’s intensity. Mikel Arteta won’t have liked how much pressure his team had to sustain and brought on Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli in reaction, also calling upon Thomas Partey late on. But Arsenal ultimately secured a mature victory regardless. On to the next.

Saka ‘different class’

Goalscorer Saka’s star continues to rise. His brace against Liverpool made him the second-youngest player to reach 20 Premier League goals for Arsenal, after Nicolas Anelka, and meant he has netted against all of the big six.

And after his goal in Norway, he’s up to four goals and four assists in just 12 matches this term. The England international, still only 21 years old, managed 19 goal contributions in 43 games last season but is well on course to surpass that tally this year.

Arsenal legend Martin Known said of the academy graduate at half-time: “When you get balls to Saka, he’s a different class at the moment. He has the full-back on toast. That class in his game, he’s gone to another level, England, Arsenal, he’s got to play right now.” He’s not wrong.

One foot in the knockouts

After this, Arsenal are very much in control of Group A heading into their double-header with PSV. Their first match against the Dutch giants comes at the Emirates next Thursday.

No wonder Mikel Arteta has been taking the Europa League group games seriously because only the group winner gets a bye into the last 16. The second-placed team faces an extra two-legged tie in which they will take on a Champions League dropout, with Barcelona, Ajax and Juventus set to be among the possible opponents.

Arsenal shouldn’t have to worry about that though, at this rate. That’s now a maximum of return for the north Londoners with two potentially tricky away trips nicely managed. If they can beat Ruud van Nistelrooy’s side next time out, their job is almost done.

Arsenal’s surging momentum

As well as a perfect Europa League record, that’s now six wins in a row across all competitions for Arsenal. It is the first time since October 2018 they have managed a run of six consecutive victories in the same season.

That run has included tricky matches against Tottenham and Liverpool, and Arteta’s charges will be confident of keeping their streak going. They face Leeds United at Elland Road on Sunday before a trip to Southampton sandwiches their PSV double-header.

Nottingham Forest, Zurich, Chelsea, Brighton and Wolves all then await before the World Cup break. Arsenal will hope to send their players off to Qatar sitting pretty in the league – and will highy likely be into the Europa League knockouts as group winners. With this form and this confidence, not too many teams look equipped to stop the current Premier League leaders.


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