Arsenal moved one step closer to finishing in the top spot in Group E of the UEFA Europa League with a scoreless draw against Sporting. The result saw the Gunners secure a top-two spot in the group and a ticket for the next round.
The Gunners have yet to lose in the competition, winning their first three matches. They lead Sporting by three points. Qarabag beat Vorskla in the other Group E contest, so Arsenal have qualified for the next round.
Here’s one talking point from the game.
Emery Needs to Drop Mkhitaryan for Iwobi
Henrikh Mkhitaryan once again failed to make much of an impact on Thursday, continuing his run of mediocre performances in the Arsenal shirt. The Armenian arrived in the swap deal that sent Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United, but at this point, it would appear both clubs lost in that trade.
The 29-year-old spends too much of his time in a passive role, rather than demanding the ball and making something happen. Sportswriter Alex Shaw thought he was also guilty of it during the weekend against Liverpool:
And while Mkhitaryan fell flat, Alex Iwobi once again flashed his considerable talent, even if it didn’t lead to a goal. The Nigerian has been among the team’s most improved players under Unai Emery and has seen his playing time steadily increase as a result.
Per WhoScored.com, he still ranks behind Mkhitaryan in minutes played, and the former Borussia Dortmund man has gotten the nod in key matches. That needs to change. Iwobi has earned his shot and carries more long-term upside, so there’s no reason to play it safe by going with the underwhelming Mkhitaryan instead.