Arsenal, Mohamed Elneny overcome poor start


Arsenal produced a blistering second-half display to blow away Oxford United and keep the Gunners’ pursuit of a 15th FA Cup alive with a 3-0 win at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford on Monday.

Operating in all-white kits as part of the club’s “No More Red” anti-violence campaign, Arsenal early on looked a very different side to the one dominating in the Premier League and it was manager Karl Robinson’s Oxford team that impressed in the early stages.

But the Gunners’ quality eventually shone through, and midfielder Mohamed Elneny grabbed a rare goal when he converted Fabio Vieira’s cross before Eddie Nketiah’s breathtaking brace set up a mouth-watering fourth-round FA Cup clash with Manchester City later this month.

Positives

Two pinpoint assists will have done Vieira’s confidence no harm at all, while Nketiah’s finishing was world-class and could play a vital part in the absence of Gabriel Jesus in the coming months.

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Negatives

“Boring, boring Arsenal” sang the home fans in Oxford as the Gunners opted to change their selected throw-in taker twice in a matter of seconds. The visitors lacked intensity in spells and even looked rattled by their League One opponents in the first half.

Manager rating (out of 10)

Mikel Arteta, 6 — As expected, Arteta ranked the changes for this latest cup clash. The Gunners’ boss rotated his entire defense and midfield and it showed as th

Player ratings (1-10 with 10 = best)

GK Matt Turner, 8 — Looked eager to impress, and he did. Commanded his box well and denied Matty Taylor with a smart stop when the Oxford man was in one-on-one. His Cruyff turn with the ball at his feet won’t have hurt either.

DF Takehiro Tomiyasu, 7 — A first start since October for Tomiyasu, who should have done better when his low cross was straight down the throat of Oxford goalkeeper Edward McGinty. Capped a decent second-half display with a couple of well-timed challenges.

DF Rob Holding, 5 — The big defender wanted a penalty kick after he felt he was dragged to the ground from an Arsenal corner but there wasn’t really anything in it. Got away with a few iffy moments including a risky back-pass and a poor headed clearance.

DF Gabriel, 6 — Looked a little lethargic when he fired a bobbing back-pass back to his goalkeeper, but looked much more resolute as he repelled a dangerous cross from Ciaron Brown.

DF Kieran Tierney, 6 — Sensitive. Took no chances in the early exchanges against a positive Oxford side, opting to clear his lines under pressure rather than playing. He was eager to get forward too and won a corner after a neat exchange with Vieira.

MF Mohamed Elneny, 7 — Did well to slow things down and prevent Taylor from having a clear path towards the area after a poor header from Holding. Proved an unlikely scorer when he crashed home Vieira’s corner with his head. It was his first goal for Arsenal since May 2021.

MF Albert Sambi Lokonga, 5 — The industrious midfielder lacked a bit of fire and struggled to take control of the game in the middle. He was screaming for a penalty when his effort struck the planted arm of Elliot Moore, but referee David Coote waved away Arsenal’s protests.

MF Fabio Vieira, 9 — Showed his class for the first time just past the 15-minute mark when he snuck off Djavan Anderson’s shoulder before chopping back inside and lifting a neat pass towards the back post. Won the game for his side with two stunning assists.

FW Bukayo Saka, 7 — Thought he was in behind when Brown stumbled, but the officials rescued the Oxford man, awarding a free-kick for a nudge. Did the simple things well as you’d expect from a player of his quality prior to his withdrawal following a knock.

FW Eddie Nketiah, 9 — Barely had a sniff in the opening 45 minutes, but came to life in the second half. Extended his fine scoring run when he rounded McGinty and slotted into an empty net before dinking a delightful second over the goalkeeper.

FW Gabriel Martinelli, 6 — Ran his socks off but had little to show for it. Had the home fans in raptures when he was seemingly sent for a hotdog twice by Anderson, but the real culprit was the pitch, which resembled a slip-and-slide.

Substitutes (players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

DF, Oleksandr Zinchenko, (Tierney, 61″), 6 — Smashed a speculative effort into the Oxford car park in the final minutes.

MF Granit Xhaka (Lakonga, 61″), 6 — Replaced the under-par Lokonga and tightened things up in the middle.

MF Emile Smith Rowe, (Saka, 75″), N/R — Almost put the gloss on things when his effort deflected narrowly wide.

DF Ben White, (Tomiyasu, 81″), N/R — Shored things up at the back late on with a brief cameo.

FW Marquinhos, (Vieira, 82″), N/R — A first FA Cup appearance for the teenager but he had little time to make an impact.



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