Having faced huge criticism during the week after a 2-1 loss to Watford, Arsenal needed a big win to get back on track.
Arsene Wenger once again invested in youth with academy graduates such as Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all making the starting line-up.
The hugely changed starting 11 failed to impress however, with an extremely lacklustre performance. A moment of magic from French forward Olivier Giroud, saw Arsenal take all three points in Belgrade.
How did each Arsenal player do?
Petr Cech: 7 – The Czech international was busier than expected, as Arsenal struggled to shut out the Serbian Superliga Champions. A few big saves, including a one-on-one following a sloppy backpass, helped the gunners on their way to a clean sheet.
Rob Holding: 5 – A less than solid performance from the young English centre back. Struggled to keep out the Belgrade forwards and looked uncomfortable from start to finish. Having been in and out of the squad all season, maybe Holding needs a longer spell in the team to re-find his form.
Mohamed Elneny: 4 – Playing out of position in central defence, the Egyptian midfielder struggled to find his feet, in a game that was anything but easy for the Arsenal defence. In the middle of three centre backs, Elneny looked out of place and uncomfortable on and off the ball. An under-hit back-pass to the goalkeeper, allowing the centre forward a free shot on goal, summed up a night to forget for the 25-year-old.
Mathieu Debuchy: 5 – The forgotten man at Arsenal was given his first start in 11 months for the Gunners, however failed to impress in Belgrade. In a make-shift defence, the Frenchman’s lack of first team football was evident, with a less than convincing performance. Will have to improve majorly if he’s hoping for a place in the starting 11.
Ainsley Maitland Niles: 5 – Academy graduate, who has made his way into the first team set up, started the game at wing-back, however lacked any creativity going forward. His best performances for the gunners have come when playing central midfield, as he struggled once again to put pressure on the current first teamers.
Joe Willock: 5 – Another lacklustre performance, as the 18-year-old struggled to dominate the midfield, and never looked to provide anything going forward. With competition in the midfield very strong, Willock will need a few big performances to be in contention.
Francis Coquelin: 4 – Having returned from injury, the holding midfielder put in a very shaky performance with a number of loose passes as well as picking up a yellow card. Once again, provided next to no urgency in the midfield, with reckless challenges and constant sideways passing. Much improvement needed.
Reiss Nelson: 7 – Another impressive performance from young Reiss Nelson, using his pace and skill as much as possible to get at the Belgrade full backs. The 17-year-old also worked defensively with an important block inside his own box to help maintain the clean sheet. He’s adapting very well to first team football and is looking like Arsenal’s brightest prospect since an 18-year-old Jack Wilshere.
Jack Wilshere: 8 – Was the best player on the pitch for the entirety of the game, being one of only two Arsenal players looking to test the Belgrade defence. His hard work eventually paid off as he masterminded a sweeping move with five minutes to go, which saw Giroud score an impressive overhead kick. If he can maintain his fitness, we could finally see Wilshere playing week in, week out in an Arsenal shirt.
Theo Walcott: 6 – A hit and miss performance from Arsenal’s longest serving player, as he struggled in front of goal, however provided the assist for the only goal of the game. The Englishman had a great chance to put the gunners ahead in the first-half, however saw his weak foot shot saved by the Belgrade keeper.
Olivier Giroud: 7 – A quiet performance for the big Frenchman until a moment of magic, late into the second half, saw the 31-year-old finish off a trademark Arsenal move with an acrobatic overhead-kick. With yet another goal, Giroud continues to put pressure on fellow countryman, Alexandre Lacazette for a place in Arsenal’s starting line-up.