Three matches left earlier than Arsenal log out for the World Cup. Their European goal of reaching the final 16 with out extending their schedule was achieved right here, although not particularly stylishly. A Sunday derby at Chelsea and retaining noses in entrance of Manchester Metropolis had clearly taken precedence.
Although at this level on this concertinaed season, with video games each three days, squads completely reshuffled, outcomes are all that matter. Zürich had not come to lie down and gave Arsenal some late scares and bruises, too, however Kieran Tierney’s first-half purpose ended up being sufficient to complete for his staff to complete up group winners.
Arsenal might have already got certified however final week’s defeat at PSV left them needing to ensure their standing as group winners. Victory would imply avoiding an additional two legs going through a Champions League dropout that Manchester United should fulfil. Ducking Juventus, Barcelona, Ajax, Sevilla and additional fatigue in February was vital motivation. Mikel Arteta had picked Gabriel Jesus, regardless of Sunday’s excessive midday appointment at Stamford Bridge, risked to guide the road as captain for the night.
Bukayo Saka’s presence on the subs’ bench was reduction on this precarious, pre-World Cup netherworld when a knock cancels a airplane ticket to Qatar. Reiss Nelson had changed Saka on Sunday and scored twice towards Nottingham Forest, and was showing in successive Arsenal matches for the primary time since December 2020.
Neon-shirted Zürich, managed by lank-haired Kidderminster Harriers alumni Bo Henriksen, their followers filling the Emirates with noise and smoke, have been in a win or bust scenario. And never even a win assured them a parachute to the Europa Convention League.
With Granit Xhaka’s suspension stopping him from going through his compatriots, Mohamed Elneny partnered Sambi Lokonga in midfield with Fabio Vieira offering the creativity. The Portuguese teen performed his half in Tierney’s purpose, his shot blocked after Ben White’s ball from the byline. Tierney steered the rebound expertly, with venom, past Zürich keeper Yanick Brecher, a primary shot on purpose after what had been a sluggish begin.
Jesus was as energetic as ever, relentless in chasing down a free ball after Eddie Nketiah had pressured a save identical from Brecher, although additionally over-eager when getting in the way in which of a goal-bound Vieira shot.
Zürich remained decided, Vieira on the top of a yellow-carded foul from Fidan Aliti and Jonathan Okita forcing a save from Aaron Ramsdale with a long-range shot. One other Arsenal purpose nonetheless regarded far likelier and Nketiah’s header pressured an acrobatic cease from Brecher. Subsequent, Vieira may need carried out higher when Tierney’s cutback however may solely hit the primary defender.
Jesus, conscious he was unlikely to play the complete 90, tried to get the job accomplished straight from the second-half whistle, crashing large although from an offside place then forcing a determined problem from Nikola Katic for a reserving. Zürich clearly noticed the tough stuff as their approach again in. Cheick Condé had a nibble at Jesus’s ankle earlier than Zoran Boranijasevic tore the chest of Tierney’s shirt asunder with a cynical seize because the full-ball sped previous him.
Zürich’s aggression did take wind from Arsenal’s sails, and Arteta despatched Saka and Thomas Partey on, Jesus and Elneny departing, Saka’s arrival receiving an enormous cheer from the house followers. There was but louder noise from the away contingent after they believed Adrian Guerrero had equalised, just for him to be known as offside from Ramsdale’s save of Antonio Marchesano’s shot.
Takehrio Tomiyasu and Martin Ødegaard got here on for Vieira and White, and with PSV main Bodo/Glimt within the different group recreation, a Zurich equaliser would have dropped Arsenal into second place. When Bohdan Vyunnyk, the Ukrainian, got here on for Zurich and flashed a shot large with Ramsdale launching himself at full stretch there have been collywobbles, shared by Gunners followers and an more and more agitated Arteta.
Tomiyasu, with what regarded a muscle harm, limped off, his participation in Japan’s World Cup squad doubtful, one other potential sufferer of this season’s unforgiving schedule.