Arsenal ended their Europa League Group F campaign by drawing 2-2 with Standard Liege, who surrendered a two-goal lead to deny themselves a chance in the competition’s knockout phase.
Freddie Ljungberg’s side were rather unfortunate to twice concede from deflected shots, but the all-action Bukayo Saka rescued a point for the Gunners by producing an assist and a goal.
Arsenal’s point earned them top spot in Group F after Frankfurt spectacularly lost to Vitoria SC, who scored two late goals to win 3-2.
London-born teenagers Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe can leave Belgium with their heads held high.
Saka in particular carried the Gunners through the later parts of the second half and was rewarded with a spectacular assist and equally eye-catching goal to equalise.
Meanwhile, Smith Rowe’s injection of pace aided the visitors’ options moving forward.
Woeful decision-making when playing out from back could’ve more than once resulted in Ljungberg’s side conceding an embarrassing goal in the first half.
Arsenal’s midfielders also struggled to retain possession while Lacazette’s generally ineffective movement in front hardly inspired free-flowing play.
Manager rating (out of 10)
6— Switched formation midway through the second half to play with a back four, a tweak which worked a treat as Arsenal went on to rescue a consolation point.
That said, Ljungberg had mostly young Saka’s individual efforts to thank as the Gunners rallied from 2-0 down.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Emiliano Martinez, 4 — Poor first-half decision-making invited Standard to press Arsenal’s back three and more than once, Martinez was caught making rash late decisions that were to the detriment of his team’s ability to move possession forwards.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 4 — Declined the opportunity to close down Samuel Bastien ahead of Standard’s fortuitous opening goal. Like his defensive colleagues, his decision-making when playing out from the back was well short of the expected standard.
DF David Luiz, 5 — Was evidently frustrated by the work of those in front of him and to say he carried some Arsenal players through the game would be fair. Passing improved as the game went on, though he wasn’t immune to a trademark defensive error or two.
DF Konstantinos Mavropanos, 4 — Would’ve wanted to make a bigger impact on his European debut having been limited to only EFL Trophy appearances this term. Poor when passing out from the back epitomised a poor performance from the Greek.
MF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 4 — Made rash decisions when under very little pressure to gift Standard possession when play really should’ve been moved forward. Neglected potentially dangerous runs to ease the hosts’ pressure in their own half.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 5 — Became the pantomime villain to the home supporters when embarrassingly falling to ground while clutching his face, despite video replays proving no contact. Tackles were mis-timed and his movement in front of the back three hardly inspired forward play.
MF Joe Willock, 4 — Worked hard in midfield to win back the ball, but flopped when it came to consistency. A dreadful error in the build-up to Standard’s second goal did little to help his score — and that error followed an early trend where possession was squandered far too easily.
MF Bukayo Saka, 8 — Arsenal’s star man on the night, though he must be more clinical in front of goal — particularly when presented as many clear-cut chances as he had this evening. In the positive column, his runs were well-timed and executed professionally, and he was ultimately rewarded with a goal and an assist.
MF Reiss Nelson, 5 — Did well on occasion to win possession from unfavourable positions but often gave possession away cheaply, most notably when Bastien was allowed a clear sight on goal to shoot and then score.
MF Emile Smith Rowe, 6 — Injected a certain burst of energy into the Gunners on the right wing that aided the visitors’ ability to open play up. Unlucky not to score when an early shot was toe-poked wide, but he generally lacked support.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 5 — Generally, didn’t do the job a proven goalscorer should in the Europa League. Loose with possession, and his first touch wasn’t the best either but it was his sloppy build-up play that was the most frustrating thing on the evening. Salvaged a five thanks to poaching a late goal.
FW Gabriel Martinelli, 6 — Wasn’t influential in either of his side’s goals, but contributed enough in midfield to help peg the hosts back.
DF Calum Chambers, N/R — Solid work defensively to block out Standard.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang N/R — Came on in the concluding minutes and had little time to impact the game and grab Arsenal a winner.