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UEFA Europa League 2019/20: 3 reasons why Arsenal drew with Vitoria SC

Scott Newman
Top 5 / Top 10
06 Nov 2019, 23:47 IST

Arsenal struggled in today
Arsenal struggled in today's game with Vitoria SC, piling more pressure on Unai Emery

A much-changed Arsenal side travelled to Portugal this afternoon for their UEFA Europa League tie with Vitoria SC, with boss Unai Emery making a total of eight changes from the side that drew with Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend.

The Gunners defeated Vitoria 3-2 last month at the Emirates Stadium, with two late Nicolas Pepe free-kicks sparing their blushes after falling behind to the Portuguese side twice, but if their fans were expecting a better showing at the Estadio D. Afonso Henriques, they were sorely mistaken.

Emery’s side struggled greatly against their Portuguese opponents, and could’ve gone behind on numerous occasions before Vitoria began to tire somewhat in the second half. Eventually Arsenal took the lead through a Shkodran Mustafi header, only to leak a late equaliser from Bruno Duarte, who found the net with an acrobatic bicycle kick. After another late scare for the Gunners, the game eventually finished 1-1.

Here are 3 reasons why Arsenal drew with Vitoria SC.

#1 Nicolas Pepe’s fantastic set-piece delivery

Shkodran Mustafi had a wonderful dead-ball delivery from Nicolas Pepe to thank for his goal
Shkodran Mustafi had a wonderful dead-ball delivery from Nicolas Pepe to thank for his goal

French forward Nicolas Pepe – who cost Arsenal a hefty £72m in the summer – hasn’t quite lived up to his price tag yet, but at times we have seen flashes of what he’s capable of, and perhaps his most notable contribution came in the Europa League game with Vitoria in October. Arsenal were trailing the game 1-2 before two expertly taken free-kicks from Pepe found the net to steal away all three points.

Arsenal were struggling greatly to break down Vitoria in today’s game and failed to create any decent chances, but when Unai Emery’s side won a free-kick on 80 minutes on the left hand edge of the penalty box, up stepped their record signing again.

Pepe floated a wonderfully weighted cross into the box, and the ball found defender Shkodran Mustafi who rose to find the net with a clean header.


The goal essentially came against the run of play – it was Arsenal’s only attempt on target during the entire game – but it was almost enough to hand the Gunners another valuable three points.

Pepe had a relatively quiet game overall but if this goal is anything to judge by he remains one of the most dangerous players in the world right now from dead-ball situations.

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