Europa League group F: Arsenal 3 Vitoria Guimaraes 2
It was a tale of two Gunners at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal edged out Vitoria Guimaraes in dramatic fashion.
Two sublime free-kicks from Nicolas Pepe in the final ten minutes secured a 3-2 win for the home side and maintained their 100% record in the Europa League.
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The Gunners are top of group F on nine points, three more than Eintracht Frankfurt, who beat Standard Liege 2-1 in Thursday night’s other pool game.
Having a laugh
But while Pepe stole the show on the pitch, off it the talk was all about Mesut Ozil’s omission.
The German midfielder was snubbed yet again by Unai Emery, perhaps the reason why Ozil had posted a message on social media that, in The Sun’s opinion, was “taking a dig at Emery”.
Underneath a photo of a chuckling Ozil were the words, ‘You make me laugh’, and the Sun believes the post was “aimed at Gunners manager Emery”.
If Emery has lost faith with Ozil, he’s found faith in Pepe, who shrugged off his slow start to his Arsenal career with two scintillating set-piece strikes.
The goals rescued his team, who were once more defensively disastrous as the Portuguese visitors played with a pace and vigour that defied their recent Europa League form.
Defensive disaster zone
Former Tottenham youth player Marcus Edwards took advantage of shocking defending to fire Vitoria into the lead after eight minutes.
Although Arsenal’s Brazilian teenager Gabriel Martinelli levelled with a header on 32 minutes, the visitors soon restored their lead when Bruno Duarte was the beneficiary of more laughable Arsenal defending.
That’s how the scored remained until Pepe’s late, late show.
“We are very happy for him and these goals will give him real confidence,” said Emery, who then acknowledged that the £72m signing has struggled for form since his summer arrival from Lille.
“Nicolas is a very good player and we believe in him totally. Every player needs time to adapt but his two goals were perfect and they gave us the win we deserved to keep us top of our group.”
Asked to explain Ozil's omission, Emery snapped: “This is not the day to speak about that. He’s not in the squad and that was the decision tonight.”
Ozil to Old Trafford?
Someone who can’t understand the German’s continued exclusion is former Manchester United star Paul Scholes, and he suggested that Ozil should consider a move to Old Trafford.
Speaking after United had ground out a 1-0 win away at Partizan Belgrade thanks to a penalty from Anthony Martial, Scholes told BT Sport: “Someone like Ozil would make a real difference in this team. I think he’s got great quality, he’s shown that in his career. He could be an answer short term.”
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