ierre-Emerick Aubameyang knew who the main man was and, for once, it was not him. Instead, at the end of the night, Arsenal’s talisman pointed to the smiling teenager under his wing, the 18-year-old who had done more than anyone to lift the mood at a club where the fans were beginning to grow restless and the atmosphere was threatening to turn dark.
There is nothing quite like the spirit of youth to invigorate a football team and no player did quite so much to lift Arsenal as Bukayo Saka, the scorer of one goal and creator of another two against an Eintracht Frankfurt side that had never before lost at home in the Europa League. Saka deserved the plaudits, as Aubameyang knew well, and Unai Emery’s side ultimately deserved the three points on another thoroughly entertaining, and altogether chaotic, evening in the world of modern Arsenal.
Three goals scored and none conceded against the toughest opponents in their Europa League group tells its own story. It does not tell the whole story, though, and Arsenal remain almost laughably open in midfield and defence, where they needed goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to make a string of impressive saves.
After conceding a scarcely believable 31 shots against Watford on Sunday, there were another 24 from Frankfurt here. In truth, at least a few of those efforts should have been converted. Arsenal and Martinez kept them out, though, and at the other end the kids did the damage, with Saka being joined by Emile Smith Rowe, another teenager, and Joe Willock in leading the offensive charge.
Willock struck the first, a deflected effort from Saka’s pass before half-time. Saka curled in the second, after Frankfurt’s Dominik Kohr had been shown a red card, and then he provided Aubameyang with the pass for the third. “Their performance tonight was good,” said Emery of the youngsters. “They deserve it.”