Gabriel Martinelli stole headlines with two goals and an assist to beat Standard Liège 4-0 in the UEFA Europa League group stage match on Thursday night. Willock and Dani Cellabos scored the other two goals. Unai Emery played a relatively young and inexperienced squad to play the Belgium side.
Although the game began slowly, Arsenal was quick to make use of opportunities. The young frontline of Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, Gabriel Martinelli, and Dani Ceballos did not waste any time to make their mark on the game. Newly recruited left-back, Kieran Tierney, who is returning from an injury crossed the ball in the box for Martinelli, who headed it beyond the outstretched hands of Milinkovic-Savic. The floodgates opened after the goal, and the second goal came in quickly, this time through a counter-attack and Martinelli's instincts helped him slot the ball into the far corner. There was a difference of only 131 seconds between his first and second goal.
Reiss Nelson attempted a shot from just outside the box, which was blocked by the defenders and the ball fell to Willock, who was quicker than the static Liege defenders to slot it into the bottom right corner. The home side was three goals up by the 21st minute and went into the break with relative comfort.
In the second half, Martinelli's impressive show continued as he worked on the right flank to deliver a cross inside the box for Dani Ceballos to tap in the ball from a few feet from above the ground.
Unai Emery would be pleased with his side's free-flowing football, which hasn't been visible for much of the season. Martinelli's performance, which saw him register his fourth goal in just his second start will be a big boost, especially since Alexandre Lacazette has been out with an injury for a couple of weeks. It would give some relief to Pierre Emrick Aubameyang, who has been carrying the load of scoring the goals for a while. Hector Bellerin and Tierney are getting closer to first-team Premier League action, and their performance in the match would hint that they would be ready to make a comeback post the International break in October.
Emery, however, has to also weigh in on the standard of the opposition and also consider that the Premier League is a different ball game. The team has been lacking creativity and has been conceding an embarrassing number of goals. His off-field issues with Mesut Ozil are depriving the team of some real talent and ability to break-away from closely-knit defensive units in the PL. Excluding the World Cup winner completely from the squad on Thursday night was not ideal since it won't be adding to the confidence of the player. Another player who has admitted to be lacking in confidence is the new record signing winger Nicolas Pepe, and it was the perfect stage for the Ivory Coast international to get a game where he would not be under significant pressure. However, the coach decided against starting him and brought him on the field in the second half, which did not prove to be fruitful.