Sporting Lisbon 0 Arsenal 1
Danny Welbeck’s 77th minute strike in Lisbon this evening made it 11 straight wins for the Gunners and all but sealed their path through to the knock-out stages of the Europa League.
Lacking some of the free-flowing attacking play they have produced of late, this steely Gunners performance was more George Graham than Arsene Wenger, but one thing is for sure, Unai Emery is quickly making his own mark on the red half of north London, and it was good to see they can tough it out when needs be, too.
Truth be told the group stages of the Europa League are a far cry from the tests ahead in the Premier League and, hopefully next season, in the Champions League, too, but the Gunners did what they had to do against a poor Sporting side in the early evening kick-off.
Welbeck looked as though he has put Arsenal in front just prior to his legitimate goal but was punished for the softest push as he rose to head the ball home.
Undeterred, Welbeck, who has looked sharp on his rare outings this season, secured the three points soon after, making space for himself after pouncing on a mistake by Sebastian Coates and drilling low past the Sporting keeper.
Arsenal have been spoilt for choice for strikers this season and it seems the form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette is inspiring their deputies, Welbeck and Alex Iwobi - who has been, without doubt, the most improved player under Emery so far.
Arsenal sit at the top of group E, with nine points from nine and with convincing wins over all three of their opponents in the Europa League now under their belt.
One more victory from the three remaining games will be enough to secure qualification and almost certainly top spot in Group E.
The games are coming thick and fast now – in the Premier League the Gunners go to Selhurst Park on Sunday in the Premier League for a clash with Crystal Palace, before Liverpool visit the Emirates on November 3.
In between those games is a Carabao Cup clash with Blackpool in London on Halloween. But nothing is spooking the Gunners right now.