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Bodø/Glimt, the most northerly opponent (67°16′57.72″N – thanks, bt8) we have ever faced in our long, though less than appropriately decorated history of European competition, pitched up at the Grove on a mild autumn evening for our second game in Europa League Group A. Their short history and recently highly successful playing style have been detailed in Dr F’s exquisitely researched match preview which I commend, even in retrospect, if you haven’t read it. Before kick-off, Bodø sat top of the group with 4 points from their first two games. The Arsenal are tucked in behind them in second place after our solitary match to date against Zurich. A win in tonight’s game would give us a measure of control of the group after only two games.

There was much pre-match speculation about Arsenal fielding a heavily rotated starting XI for this match, given the 9 matches scheduled for October and particularly with Sunday’s looming match against the Mugsmashers. Verily, the boss rang a series of changes but retained the first XI spine of Gabriel, Xhaka and Martinelli. Those two Brazilians had been able to rest during the recent Interlull while our new Mr Reliable, Granit Xhaka has made himself undroppable. Turner came in for Ramsdale in goal and our first-choice fullbacks from last season, Tomiyasu and Tierney returned to flank the previously familiar combination of Holding and Gabriel at centre back. Vieira came in again at ‘8’ for Ødegaard, despite the latter’s Norwegian connection while Lokonga got another opportunity to strut his stuff in Thomas Partey’s role in deep midfield. Up front we got another chance to see the exciting Marquinos on the right, with local boy Nketiah leading the line flanked by another Brazilian, Martinelli, on his left. Uncontroversially, Xhaka was captain. The calvary (© North Bank Ned) were on the bench.

Arsenal began by stroking the ball around deep midfield as if to draw the Glimters out before themselves initiating a high press. An early attack resulted in a driving run by Nketiah but his shot sailed past the far post then a high ball from the left was taken down well by Vieira in the box but his pass was cut out. There suddenly seemed to be lots of space to run into and Nketiah took the opportunity to run through the Bodø midfield to shoot wide from the edge of the box. Bodø, for their part, showed a willingness to commit players forward. Their winger Mvuka briefly looked dangerous racing down our left but was dispossessed easily as he cut inside. After 7 minutes there was an alarm as Vieira went down clutching his foot after a stamp by a defender but he resumed the field and promptly hit the bar after a neat turn and volley in the box from a deflected cut back from Tierney. 

After ten minutes Arsenal’s early surge seemed to abate. Bodø then showed their predicted high press and possession game, dispossessing first Xhaka then Martinelli in midfield but without threatening Turner’s goal on either occasion. In reply, Arsenal regained the initiative but Xhaka’s curving cross from the left sailed out for a throw-in with no one attacking the far post. Meanwhile the Bodø support spent much of the first half jumping up and down – presumably a Pavlovian response to generate warmth after finding themselves in a football ground despite the 14 degree ambient temperature!

A period of Arsenal pressure, as we came towards 20 minutes, enlivened the home crowd who finally woke up and were briefly vocal though a couple of penetrative surges down the left came to naught despite a spill from the keeper as he cut out a low cross. A lob from the left by Martinelli was then beautifully trapped by Marquinos in the box but he promptly ran into a defender and lost the ball. Shortly after that disappointment, Martinelli picked up the ball centrally, dribbled through their midfield and passed to Tierney on the left of the box. Tierney’s firm strike hit the far post and rebounded for Nketiah to make a difficult shot look easy as, under pressure from a defender, he found the back of the net from near the penalty spot.

1-0 to the Arsenal (Nketiah, 23)

Marquinos had frequently been getting joy from pressurising the Bodø left back and another challenge broke to Vieira whose run into the box unfortunately took him too close to the keeper. The resultant corner taken by Vieira from the right was headed away but only to Vieira who had rushed out to meet it and jinked past a defender to curl a beautiful left-footed ball into the box for Holding to head firmly inside the Bodø keeper’s right-hand post.

2-0 to the Arsenal (Holding, 27)

We then sat back and allowed Bodø a spell of possession during which they moved the ball around silkily but failed to penetrate our back four. Our comfortable scoreline encouraged a hitherto somewhat taciturn crowd to vocalisation and a round of Tequila/Saliba was forthcoming.

A Bodø defender handballed on the edge of their box as he tried to block a penetrative move involving Vieira and Nketiah giving Arsenal a freekick in a very good position. That freekick was rolled sideways by Vieira to Xhaka who fired the ball towards the far top corner forcing the Bodø keeper to tip it over his bar. Tierney then drove into the Bodø penalty area after a back heel from Xhaka but fired the ball wide. Shortly afterwards Nketiah dispossessed a centre back but failed to score as he ran in on the keeper.

After 37 minutes, a Glimter with the name of an Italian mineral water had a shot at goal that sailed well wide. Marquinos then showed him how to do it but his shot on target was deflected over. By 40 it was clear we were enjoying ourselves and were doing to Bodø what their coach had claimed they would do to us – we had possession and we pressed high. Xhaka was then carded for handball preventing a Glimter taking it past him as he lay on the ground after a challenge. A few seconds later, Xhaka cut the ball back to Vieira on the edge of the box but his sweet left-footed shot curled past the post. 

As half time approached we were sitting back with a low block, wingers alongside the fullbacks, a bank of three in front of the back four and looking very solid. 

HT: Arsenal 2 Bodø/Glimt 0

Although we were worth our half time lead, we were by no means imperious in that first half and didn’t control the flow of the game. Instead we conceded considerable periods of possession and initiative to the opponent. However, Bodó’s failure to threaten Turner’s goal in the first half contrasted with our clear threat in front of goal suggesting that there might be a gulf in class between the two teams. Bodø’s football in possession was pretty but their moves always seemed to break down against our defensive line. 

The Arsenal players began the second half as if Arteta had put a rocket up them. Martinelli dribbled past two defenders as he ran along the bye line and cut the ball back to Xhaka who struck a firm shot on goal that was parried by the keeper towards Nketiah who could only direct his header wide. Then seconds later, Nketiah closed down the keeper who just managed to clear a back pass. However, Arsenal’s early threat proved ephemeral. At the other end a back pass from Holding gave a Glimter of hope but Turner cleared it reasonably comfortably.

A Bodø forward then gave Turner the opportunity to catch the ball with their first shot on target. Berg then ran unchallenged from their half all the way to the edge of our box where he laid the ball off to another Glimter whose shot curved past the far post as another Glimter failed to connect. Bodø came forward again after sloppy possession in midfield and Saltnes shot over our bar. Turner then got down well to a Pellegrino shot in the box that had passed through a forest of legs. Arsenal’s early aggression had faded and our energy seemed to have dissipated. In those first ten minutes of the second half we had given the Glimters too much encouragement.

We were looking distinctly second best as 57 minutes rang up. This game was only going in one direction and action was required. Arteta promptly replaced Martinelli with Jesús, Xhaka with Ødegaard and Saka replaced Marquinos. The substitutions had an immediate energising effect and we began to regain and retain possession.

Nonetheless this remained more of a contest than the first half had been. A free kick wide left in their half for Arsenal was botched and led to another Bodø breakaway attack that was happily smothered. Our midfield now seemed easier to run through than it had been – no Partey and now no Xhaka? Mercifully, their breakaways still tended to fizzle out as they met out back line but on one occasion it was Jesús who made the critical challenge in our box. As the ¾ point came up, Bodø were again dominating possession but happily, still without too much threat. However, it felt that if they got a goal, we would have to survive a very nervy last few minutes. On 69 minutes a flagging Tierney was replaced by Benjamin White and Tomiyasu switched to left back.

A neat move up the left by Bodø led to a centrally directed ball to a forward whose shot cleared our bar before the flag went up for offside. On 72 minutes Solbakken and another Glimter replaced Mvuka and another Glimter. Arsenal responded with a nice run inside from Saka whose ball found Jesús but his instant return from the left was cut out before it reached the onrushing Saka. On 75 minutes, our brilliant number 7 took a hefty kick that left him limping for several minutes. Fortunately, he appeared to run it off. At this point it felt as if we were just trying to see this game out at 2-0. Turner showed his aerial ability firmly clutching a high ball from a Pellegrino free kick and to be fair had competently dealt with the ball at his feet all match.

A now rare flash from Arsenal saw a lovely through ball from Ødegaard to Nketiah to take him behind the Bodø defence but his shot sailed wildly over the bar. On 81 minutes, Nketiah was replaced by Nelson who made his first appearance in 14 months. Jesús moved from the left flank into his usual central position. 

Arsenal then appeared to wake up!

A beautiful mazy dribble along the bye line by Jesús who had received a ball in the wide left position from a throw-in, mesmerised several Glimt defenders and as he approached the keeper’s right-hand post he cut the ball back perfectly to Vieira who struck it first time with his left peg high into the net. 

3-0 Arsenal, Vieira 84

Jesús then set Nelson free on the left but his shot from the edge of the box was deflected for a corner. Gabriel headed the ball over from the resulting corner.

A swift and fluid move out of defence with passes from White to Ødegaard to Nelson finished with a cross from Nelson to Vieira who was quickly closed down by a couple of Glimters.

In added time, Holding had to hook the ball off the line to preserve the clean sheet after a pass from Pellegrino had found its way to Saltnes inside our six-yard box near Turner’s right-hand post. His shot was pushed upwards by Turner but span goalwards before Holding’s second critical contribution.

The game drew to a close with Jesús making a driving run from the left along the edge of the box, laying the ball off for nice interplay on the right between White, Lokonga, Saka and Ødegaard. The latter chipped the ball towards Nelson running into the box but his effort from the edge of the 6-yard box was blocked by a diving defender. The referee blew for time as a Saka breakaway ended with a heavy touch on the half-way line.

FT Arsenal 3, Bodø/Glimt 0

Three excellent goals, each with an outstanding assist, saw a team that rarely run out together claim a deserved victory over the piece. No-one had a poor game. It was just not as silky and free flowing as the first XI have made us come to expect. Caviar and sausages, as Arsene might observe. For me, Vieira was man of the match. We will see more of that silky left peg.

Yet this was one of those games of two halves. Despite several periods of silky possession, Bodø were distinctly second best in the first half and while we hadn’t exactly dominated the game, at half time it seemed possible that the second half might be a canter against a clearly inferior outfit. However, Bodø seemed a different outfit in the second half and dominated possession until the latter stages. Our second-string players seemed unable to rise to the challenge when Bodø began to assert themselves in that second half and the early appearance of Jesús, Ødegaard and Saka was essential to restore energy and competitiveness to see out the challenge. That second half suggests that we are in for a frosty experience when we visit the Arctic Circle next week.

27 Drinks to “A Glimpse of a Future That Bodes Frosty”

  1. 1
    TTG says:

    Very fair and comprehensive report Bath . I enjoyed the game. I can be a nervous watcher of Arsenal on TV but I was totally relaxed tonight . I felt we played with a handbrake and Krooklok ( remember those ?) on and won very comfortably .
    I agree with the very positive appraisal of Vieira. He is every inch a footballer and looks like a regular scorer too .Nketiah was excellent and Jesus when he came in was different class. Turner did better than in Zurich and looked ok with his feet .
    Bodø were ok but struggled to play out from the back.They may be a different proposition on a synthetic pitch in the Arctic Circle next week.,

  2. 2
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Arse 3 – Hobbits 0

  3. 3
    North Bank Ned says:

    I was thinking of writing, a very fair assessment, Bath, before reading TTG@1’s opening sentence. But, there, I’ve written it anyway, because it was.

    Incidentally, that was our first clean sheet at home since the Leicester game last March, a run of nine games in which we conceded.

  4. 4
    Potsticker says:

    Not surprising for the monks to have calvary on their minds when thinking of Jesus.

  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    Thanks Bath for your excellent report! If latitudinal exactness is what the readers need, I’m only to glad to be of research assistance. 😬
    I’m expecting chilly conditions and balls bouncing high on the carpet in the second leg. Granit could be what the local fans get to see even as they’re clamoring for countryman Martin who’ll be fresh from bamboozling the bindippers. 🙏

  6. 6
    scruzgooner says:

    excellent report, and of a fine game to watch. i agree with pretty much all you saw, though i’d give some credit to sambi for doing his job very well.

    for next week’s game, think a cold february in stoke, 70% chance of rain and a range from 6° to 9° C. but, with no doubt nicer people and better football than up in staffordshire.

  7. 7
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers Baff. Excellent report.

    The Doc’s preview was indeed stellar too.

    I’ve nothing to add about last night’s game – attention is squarely on Sunday now.


  8. 8
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    “I’m expecting chilly conditions and balls bouncing high on the carpet in the second leg.”

    How you choose to watch matches when in your own home is entirely up to you bt8…

  9. 9
    Countryman100 says:

    As we strolled up Holloway Road in search of food, we kept seeing patches of custard yellow in the various restaurants and bars. Our Norwegian friends were up for a night out. Supper taken care of (an excellent Greek restaurant just ten minutes from the stadium) we reached our seats around 7.20 on a lovely mild autumnal evening perfect for football. The Bodo end was already full. We examined the team with interest. The only real point of discussion was to wonder why Martinelli wasn’t being rested.

    A superb play by play review by Bathgooner above means I just want to focus on a couple of things. First the crowd. Although the quietest home game of the season, especially when compared to the white hot atmosphere of the NLD, it certainly was not quiet. Plenty of singing, chanting and supportive shouts. Eddie described the atmosphere afterwards as electric. That may be gilding the lily a little, but it was far louder than most Europa Group stage matches. The Bodo fans were just superb. I expect they were staying overnight, which may have been the reason why even after going 3-0 down not a man Jack left (are you watching Spurs?).

    The second is my complete awe at the run of Jesus to setup Vieira for the third goal. We sit in row 9 and it happened right in front of us. I have not seen such a high speed run, with complete control, using both feet, since Santi Cazorla hung up his boots. I am so pleased he plays for us. Or as his song goes, “I believe in Jesus, he’s Arsenal’s number 9”

    So on to Liverpool on Sunday, with a massive goonerholics forever lunch pre match. I’m leaving the car at home that day.

  10. 10
    ClockEndRider says:

    Excellent write up of a game I will watch tonight snuggled up with a bottle of red with wife and daughter out for the evening.
    Reminder to those coming for the festivities on Sunday that there is some kind of a train strike scheduled, so make sure you do your homework in advance regarding what is and isn’t running.
    Although given the nature of the trains in UK, the strike does rather beg the question: “How are we to notice the difference?”

  11. 11
    bt8 says:

    You misinterpreted my meaning GSD. 🤣🤣🤣

    Must try to use more precise language in future, should balls and carpets need to be expressed in the same sentence.

  12. 12
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@9: It looked from the TV pictures that there were a few empty seats, especially in comparison to the packed visitors’ section, which was a sea of yellow.

    Truly, Jesus’s assist for the third goal was out of this world, especially the moment when he shifted the ball from his right to left foot before passing to Vieira.

  13. 13
    Countryman100 says:

    Ned. There were a few empty seats, although the game was sold out weeks ago. I would guess there was comfortably 55,000 in the ground, which is excellent for a mid week Europa league game. A shame those ST holders who decided not to go (probably in full knowledge it would be a squad team rather than the full first XI) didn’t use ticket exchange to give others a go. The seats were very cheap, in the high teens or low 20s.

    Tickets for Sunday’s game v Liverpool are virtually impossible to get.

  14. 14
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent reportage Bath, covering all the key moments and offering an accurate and concise summary at the end.

    I have really started to enjoy watching Vieira play. I like that he likes to find himself in goal scoring positions and taking shots himself instead of trying for the perfect pass. The assist to Holding was lovely too, but of course not as otherworldly as the bit of magic by Jesus for the third goal.

    Bodø played quite well in the second half and agree with those that we will find it difficult in the return leg especially in the unfamiliar conditions. But if we can win next Thursday we will take significant steps towards finishing top of the group.

    Thought Reiss looked sharp enough in his ten odd minutes. Given the hectic schedule we will definitely need him in the next few weeks.

  15. 15
    bt8 says:

    In his brief stint on the field Reiss looked to have bulked up slightly and to exude a smidgen more confidence, if it’s possible to judge. What a boost it would be to have significant contributions from him especially considering the injury situation of ESR.

  16. 16
    Esso says:

    Cheers Baff!

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Trev says:

    Thanks Bath – and please excuse the repetition – for a comprehensive and fair report.

    It filled in the 15 minute spell from 55 to 70 minutes which I missed due to unfortunately dozing off along with the team. It wasn’t that the fare was that bad – just the result of a lot of work and a late finish. There were several returnees from injury and others who haven’t been playing much recently, so it was expected that the tempo and precision in play would tail off after about an hour. We did have some reasonable subs to bring on though who were immediately able to restore order.

    There has been some online chat recently about the necessity to get players like Saliba, Saka and Martinelli signed up to long term deals. Just as, if not more, important is it to make sure that Arteta and Edu are similarly secured. They, with the support of the rest of the club, have done a truly superb job in improving and uniting the club – and in remarkably quick time considering the shambles they inherited.

  19. 19
    bt8 says:

    Cheers Esso @17, What a classic!

  20. 20
    TTG says:

    Most members of the squad have received praise this season but , partly because he is out of the first team, we have perhaps overlooked Tomayisu. I think he is a superb defender and he does produce very good suppor5 for his attacking wide man.
    I would like to see him starting. In my view, White, who is having an excellent season , will form a superb partnership with Saliba . But Tomi was a very important buy and great value for money .
    It’s interesting that we may have fighting for places next season
    Hein / Okonkwog
    Norton- Cuffy Rekik Awe Sousa
    Patino Nwaneri
    Cozier Duberry Flores Cirjan
    That’s without dipping into the transfer market

  21. 21
    OsakaMatt says:

    Belated thanks Bath, great report on a game we made easy for ourselves with an excellent first half. Looking forward to the Liverpool game now and we certainly shouldn’t lack confidence. Also I’m heartily sick of losing to the dippers.
    It’s a good point about Tomi, TTG. He was an important player for us last season and in the end I think he will win back the RB spot. We’ve replaced a team of iffy defenders with a group that’s the best we’ve had in years and I have no idea how Mikel will keep them all happy in future, but it’s nice to have them this season at least.

    Advice noted CER 😉

  22. 22
    21st century gooner says:

    Good win against limited opposition. We should top the group now. But today I wanted to congratulate the efforts of my family’s team over in Cyprus, omonoia Nicosia in their heroic performance against probably the biggest club in world football in man united. Never in a million years did I ever believe I would see them share a football pitch with Cristiano Ronaldo and co on this stage. Before the game I was expecting us to get well and truly battered but we held firm, and incredibly took the lead with a brilliant counter attack goal which sent me knee sliding across the room. In fact despite having assembled one of the most expensive squads in the history of football, and starting a bloke with 5 balon d’ors to his name, united actually had to bring on both rashford and martial to breach our defence. We should have equalised shortly after their second goal but we did manage a second near the end to set up a grandstand finish. Given that we recently lost 3-1 to united a 3-2 defeat was an incredible effort for a club of our stature. The level of performance was much higher than I expected and lots of the players put themselves right in the shop window for bigger European clubs. I am debating if I should try to snaffle a ticket in the home end for the game at old Trafford next week just so I can laugh just in case the incredible happens but it very nearly did last night. But it goes to show that anything can happen in football and I am very proud of my team who did not only the club proud, but the whole island. I was praying for us to get them in the group but seeing them play against one of our rivals was the next best thing. Also we’re managed by Neil Lennon which adds a very welcome British contingent to the fan base. I still dream of a day where they come to the emirates but hopefully they can put in a similar performance in Manchester.

  23. 23
    bathgooner says:

    Thanks for the kind words, chaps.

    On reflection, that game demonstrated the marked improvement in the team when Jesús, Ødegaard and Saka are added to the mix. It shouldn’t really be a surprise! Jesús is clearly the best striker we’ve had in ages and his energy and skill changed the momentum of that second half. I was very impressed at how much difference Ødegaard made when he took over his ‘8’ position from Vieira (who had had a good game) and added quicker movement and passing through midfield plus those penetrating through balls. Of course Saka brings more threat than Marquinos who will continue to develop. Hopefully that knock hasn’t left him crocked. I also thought that. like the Manure game, it showed how much we rely on Partey in deep midfield to dominate games and to secure the back door. For all Sambi Lokonga’s best efforts (and he is a very able midfielder and had a good game), we do miss TP5 when he’s not available because he is one of the best there is in his role currently. Nonetheless we do have to rotate or we will run these guys into the ground and we cannot expect to have equivalently talented back-ups twiddling their thumbs on the bench forever – c.f. RB and LB.

    And well done Omonia Nicosia!

  24. 24
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@13: Thanks. The TV shots inevitably capture the seats nearest the front so it is difficult to get an overall picture, and the singing comes through intermittently, though it was loud at times on Thursday. The Ems should be filled to the rafters and rocking on Sunday.

  25. 25
    Countryman100 says:

    Nice NYT piece on the way the atmosphere has got better at the Emirates. I might have mentioned the away support but it’s worth a read.

  26. 26
  27. 27
    Pangloss says: