Arsenal v Sevilla: Champions League – live | Champions League
57 mins: Sevilla are giving Saka and Martinelli less space to operate in, which is a sensible decision.
55 mins: Speaking of Havertz … he gets the ball on the right and cuts in onto this left foot before letting fly but his effort wings its way wide.
54 mins: Pat emails: “For me, the Havertz issue comes down to two things. It’s worth saying from the off that he’s clearly a very talented footballer. Great ball skills, good positioning, thinks well, clearly liked by his teammates.
“But first, he’s what my dad would call a lummox. He looks uncoordinated. He’s got a normal sized body on Peter Crouch’s legs. So when he does something poor, it looks twice as bad as if another player had done it. (It doesn’t help when he wears those big black boots.)
“Second, he doesn’t have a natural position. He’s no Declan Rice or Saka who are clearly suited to a specific place on the pitch. He’s not fast enough to be a winger. He’s not strong enough to be a defensive midfielder or even a thrusting, attacking midfielder. He’s not confident enough to be a striker. Definitely not a defender. But managers see the skills and keep thinking well maybe I’ll try him here. Hmmm no, that didn’t really work. What about here? And it takes a season or two before the manager realises that he’s probably just not worth it.”
53 mins: The first sight of Martinelli breezing past a Sevilla of the half sees him reach the byline from where he chips to the back post but there is no one in red waiting to knock it.
51 mins: More Saka trickery on the edge of the box concludes with the winger tumbling inside the area. Neither he nor the ref look too interested in a penalty being awarded.
49 mins: Sevilla have not changed their plan. They will just sit back and hope someone manages to get an equaliser from their home half or something. They do get a free-kick into the Arsenal box but Arsenal break on them at speed. Saka drives up the right and picks out Havertz, who takes a touch and fires towards goal but a Sevilla boot deflects it wide.
47 mins: Juanlu takes an appalling foul throw but no one intervenes. VAR should come down like a ton of bricks on this. His foot was off the floor!
Niall Sullivan emails: “Reminds me of the good old days vs Bolton when Nolan and Davies used to go around kicking everyone until they got a booking.”
Here we go again!
Zinchenko is on for Tomiyasu.
I am not saying this Arsenal match is not grabbing the attention of the pundits but Rio Ferdinand is sat in the studio watching the United match.
It has been a straightforward 45 minutes for Arsenal against a pretty average Sevilla team who have offered nothing going forward. The only surprise is that Arsenal have not scored more.
45 mins: Martinelli gets to the byline for roughly the 176th time in the match but his cross drifts out of play. For all the fine work he has done, his end product has been lacking.
One minute added on.
43 mins: We seem to be drifting towards half time. Neither side look particularly engaged in proceedings.
“If Saliba doesn’t win Arsenal Player of the Year I’ll eat my hat,” claims Daragh Thomas.
41 mins: Havertz is late on a challenge with Fernando but, like everyone else tonight, avoids a booking.
39 mins: Sevilla almost get beyond the Arsenal back four but Saliba is alert to the danger and slides in to get the ball back to Raya. That’s as good as it’s got for Sevilla thus far.
37 mins: Saka swings in a free-kick from the right but the goalkeeper is able to punch clear.
Despite not being in this game at all, Sevilla are still trying to play out from the back. It must feel like 100 miles from their goal to Arsenal’s passing it this slowly.
35 mins: Saka shifts the ball and breezes past a couple of defenders down the right but his cross is overhit.
Kike Salas fouls Saka again. Sevilla cannot cope with the Arsenal wingers.
33 mins: Sevilla look like a team who have won once in eight and lack the confidence required to give Arsenal a game.
31 mins: Can Sevilla get back into this? The evidence is to the contrary.
Finally! The ball is wonderfully slipped between two defenders by Jorginho for Saka to collect. He takes a touch and crosses to Trossard to sweep home.
28 mins: Martinelli again wanders down the left at speed; he reaches the byline but his pullback is cleared. He gets another chance soon after but Bade is in the right place to head away.
Matthew Stephens offers even more positivity: “I take a lot of positivity from Kai Havertz’s presence in the team. It give me hope at age 52 that I could get a game for Arsenal.”
26 mins: I was at Man City v Young Boys last night and this match has a very similar feeling. It is extremely one-sided. I await Arsenal opening the scoring …
Saka shows off his tricky feet once more and he goes down under pressure from Kike Salas in the box. Saka wants a penalty but he does not merit one.
24 mins: A Martinelli cross is headed out to the edge of the box to Jorginho, who lays it off for White to shoot but he fails to get any power or accuracy on his effort.
22 mins: Kari Tulinus emails: “Having watched my share of Bundesliga games through the years, I can testify that Havertz was brilliant for Leverkusen. Sometimes good players don’t fit into a team, and that might be the case with him and Arsenal. As for him not living up the hype, he did score winning goals in the finals of Champions League and Club World Cup. That’s a pretty good rate of return for eighty million or whatever Chelsea paid.”
Some positivity is what we need.
20 mins: Lamela dispossesses Rice in the Arsenal half, which is about the most attacking thing Sevilla have done all game.
18 mins: I do not think Sevilla have crossed the halfway line. It is very one-sided. Stats claim Arsenal have had around 70% possession.
SAKA IS FOULED AGAIN! Kike Salas again. Someone needs booking here. The Romanian referee needs to be stronger.
Saka fires the free-kick over the bar from around 25 yards. I am sure he will get another soon.
16 mins: A slight change for Saka as he is fouled by Kike Salas on this occasion. It’s good to have variety.
14 mins: Martinelli once again nips past Juanlu. The Arsenal wingers are going to have a great night here.
Gudelj commits another foul! Just book him, mate.
12 mins: Martinelli rinses the right full-back and gets into the box, he pulls it back to Trossard and/or Rice but neither can get a shot away in a crowded area, allowing Sevilla to clear.
10 mins: Gudelj cleans out Saka for a second time. It is a poor challenge but he somehow avoids a yellow.
“What is so difficult to understand?” asks Jeff Sax. “Havertz has not and will not live up to the hype about him from years ago.
“Another one of Arsenal’s inexplicable signings.”
8 mins: The referee has a strong word with Gudelj after he takes down Saka from behind. I think the Sevilla man is in for a tough evening. Saka swings in the subsequent free-kick from the right touchline … it lands on Gabriel’s head but his effort is completely misdirected. A bad start for Arsenal and headers.
6 mins: The away end at the Emirates looks a touch lively, that’s for sure.
“Poor old Havertz,” emails Charles Antaki. “A simple header at the far post completely fluffed. Either he has the luck of the devil, a confidence level in minus figures, or shares in a meme-producing company specializing in footballer howlers.”
4 mins: Loic Bade is at centre-back for a Sevilla, a man who barely got a kick at Nottingham Forest in the first half of last season. He has been decent since moving to Spain. I suspect Forest underestimated him.
3 mins: I am not sure if Sevilla have completed a successful pass yet. It is all Arsenal.
2 mins: Martinelli darts down the left and earns his side a corner within 25 seconds. The Brazilian whips it to the back post where Havertz is completely unmarked but his header is utterly woeful and goes well wide from a few yards.
“There’s not much in reserve tonight, is there?” suggests Mike Jakeman. I always think people underestimate how hard it is when squads return to the CL and have two big games every week. Takes two or three years for the squad to get properly grooved. Only City among the English CL clubs this year are used to the grind.”
Peep! Peep! Peep! Here we go!
The mascots dressed up in Mastercard kit gets me every time.
“Who controls the TV cameras during a UEFA Champions League match?” asks Kurt Perleberg.
The host broadcaster’s director will be in charge of the coverage.
The players are in the tunnel, as are Laura Woods and Rio Ferdinand for some reason. This coverage is far too busy. It’s just a bit weird.
Mikel Arteta speaks: “I like to control games in the last 20 metres. It is the most difficult thing in football when teams are really low against us. This season we have been struggling to unlock teams early, unlike last season.”
Bit more VAR chat: “It is my duty and who I am. I will defend this club and these players. In the dressing room, I demand the best and I am the same out here.”
TNT’s coverage really is trying too hard. They are jumping from behind the goal, to the side of the pitch and now to the commentators to do some analysis. Get in a studio and keep it simple.
Rai Skrupskis lands in my inbox: “Let’s hope Sevilla are denied a winner by an outrageous VAR decision so Arteta can rage about the injustice of it all. Eh? Oh.”
Russell Eberts gets in touch touch to say: “I find it odd that Arteta gets stick for the same things that Klopp, Mourinho, Sir Alex, and many other managers have done over the years. Klopp gets mad at reporters for asking him how he feels about playing on Saturdays! Mourinho threw his players under the bus time and time again. Sir Alex used his bully pulpit as much as he could. Not sure why people dislike Arteta so much, except for maybe the fact he coaches Arsenal, and people can’t stand Arsenal being good again (and they are good).”
Jeff Sax emails: “Let’s see what Arteta will whinge about tonight?!
“What he lacks in coaching skills, he makes up with whining.”
Sid Lowe and Victor Orta together at last.
There is no Eddie Nketiah for Arsenal tonight because the striker has an ankle issue.
Get in the mood for tonight’s match with a look at Arteta v VAR.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu; Rice, Jorginho; Havertz, Saka, Martinelli; Trossard
Subs: Ramsdale, Hein, Soares, Kiwior, Zinchenko, Vieira, Nelson, Elneny, Cozier-Duberry, Sagoe Jr.
Sevilla (4-1-4-1): Dmitrovic; Juanlu, Badé, Gudelj, Kike Salas; Fernando; Lamela, Jordan, Sow, Pedrosa; En-Nesyri
Subs: Flores, Gattoni, Ocampos, Suso, Rafa Mir, Rakitic, Lukebakio, Mariano Diaz, Nianzou, Navas, Torres, Soumare
The Gunners sit top of the table and a win tonight could confirm their place in the knockout stages, depending on results elsewhere. Mikel Arteta’s team have, however, lost their last two matches and the manager is still absolutely fuming about VAR.
On the upside, the only time Sevilla have been victorious in their past eight outings was a victory in the Copa del Rey over fourth tier Quintanar. They find themselves 15th in La Liga thanks to a grand total of two victories in 11 and are already onto their second manager of the season, with Diego Alonso replacing Europa League winner José Luis Mendilibar at the helm in October.
Let’s hope for a cracker!
Kick-off: 8pm GMT.