Unai Emery said that Arsenal gave a ‘big performance’ as they survived travel chaos and freezing temperatures to beat Vorskla Poltava 3-0 in Kiev on Thursday evening.
Goals from Emile Smith-Rowe, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Willock made sure that Arsenal will finish top of Group E with one game to spare.
The match had been moved from Poltava to Kiev at late notice for political reasons, but it didn’t seem to affect Arsenal too badly and Emery was pleased with the performance.
“In the first minute they started pushing and they had some action in attacking moments, but we stopped it well and then when we scored the first goal we took confidence and then took control of the game,” the Spaniard told Arsenal’s official website.
“With our positioning, with having the ball, possession, and continuing finding every time an attacking moment for us. The individually quality was good and it was a big performance for us.”
The Arsenal manager reserved special praise for Smith-Rowe, who scored his third goal of the season and was one of Arsenal’s best performers on the night.
Emery believes that the 18-year-old can be an inspiration to his fellow youngsters. Eddie Nketiah made his first start for Arsenal, and there were second half debuts for Zech Medley, Bukayo Saka and Charlie Gilmour.
“He is taking confidence, he is taking responsibility and also I think today his performance in 90 minutes is very good,” he added.
“He is a good example for the other young players. We think they can help us but they need the confidence of playing matches, not only working with us in the training sessions.”
Emery will take charge of his first North London derby when Arsenal host Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.