Henrik Mkhitaryan

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Aubameyang, Arsenal cruise past Vorskla

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  • Aubameyang scores two
  • Mkhitaryan shines
  • Welbeck, Ozil also score

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as Arsenal cruised to a 4-2 win over Vorskla Poltava in its first Europa League match of the season.

Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil also scored for the Gunners. Volodymyr Chesnakov scored a rocket goal late for Vorskla and Vyacheslav Sharpar scored in stoppage to give the Ukrainian visitors two nice bits of consolation.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery handed a Gunners debut to 18-year-old Emile Smith Rowe in the win.

[ MORE: Europa League standings ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan sprung the break when a Vorskla player dummied a pass into his path. Racing 50 yards before springing Alex Iwobi, Mkhitaryan had a prime angle to watch Aubameyang meet the Nigerian’s cross and punch it into the goal from 15 yards. 1-0.

Lucas Torreira came close to swerving a free kick home in the 38th minute, but swept it into the outside of the netting. And Aubameyang just missed a terrific second goal with a curling effort off the post just before half.

[ MORE: Europa League schedule ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Mkhitaryan and Torreira were both wonderful for the Gunners, and the former cued up Welbeck’s second goal with a pinpoint cross to the top of the six for a headed finish.

Aubameyang struck for his second in the 55th minute, an effortless curler from outside the 18.

Mesut Ozil came off the bench to poke home Arsenal’s fourth after build-up from Stephane Lichtsteiner and Matteo Guendouzi, though Vorskla’s goal may be the highlight of the second frame.

Arsenal’s Wenger played to his advantages in Swedish blowout

Robert Henriksson/TT News Agency via AP
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You know that argument we make on behalf of preseason MLS teams when they face Liga MX sides in the CONCACAF Champions League?

[ RECAP: Ostersunds 0-3 Arsenal ]

Imagine you’re a Swedish club and instead of Pachuca, it’s Arsenal on the other side.

Ostersunds staged its second match since Dec. 7, and was overwhelmed by the speed and press of Arsenal from moment one as the Gunners claimed a 3-0 first leg win in the Europa League’s Round of 32.

“Overall we played a serious game, so job done,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “They looked very nervous and we took advantage of it.”

Ostersunds’ only other competitive match of 2018 was a Swedish Cup game on Feb. 9.

Nacho Monreal and an Ostersunds goal had it 2-0 by halftime, and Mesut Ozil put the finishing touch on the scoreline in the second half.

Ostersunds’ 2017 Allsvenskan schedule wrapped up in November, leaving only the Europa League group stage fixtures and the aforementioned Cup game to keep them sharp for the Europa League Round of 32.

The club won’t play outside the UEL until after the Arsenal tie is over, and doesn’t begin the 2018 Allsvenskan schedule until April 1.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan forced the own goal with a hard cross, and says Arsenal was prepped to pressure the out-of-sync hosts.

“It was their first game after a while, because we are in the league and keep playing maybe we are more practiced,” Mkhitaryan said. “They are a good team, tried to play, but we scored two in the beginning.”

Mkhitaryan said, “Why not?” when asked if Arsenal could win the whole thing.

“We have to focus on every game regardless of this result to ensure more success. Even with the League Cup final, I think we have to play with the same team and win at home.”

Sanchez, Mkhitaryan transfer still up in the air

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The player-swap/trade/transfer between Arsenal and Manchester United still appears to be heading towards completion, but it was further delayed Friday.

Multiple reports in England state that while Alexis Sanchez seems set to move to Manchester United, Henrik Mkhitaryan has yet to agree to move the other way, as talks between the player’s agent and Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was seen training at Manchester United’s practice facility on Friday, and because the latest delay, both players would be unable to debut for their new teams this weekend after missing the Premier League registration deadline.

[MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks]

Arsenal hosts Crystal Palace Manchester United travels to Burnley, both on Saturday at 10 a.m. (Watch Arsenal live on CNBC, Manchester United live on NBCSN, and both live on NBCSports.com)

The London Evening Standard reports that Mkhitaryan would command a $242,000-per-week salary but that as of Friday morning he had yet to undergo a medical for the transfer. Arsenal reportedly still wants a transfer fee included for Sanchez, while Manchester United would prefer to just swap the two players.

It’s also looking as if that won’t be Arsenal’s only business in the transfer market. While it seemed like a far-fetched rumor at first, the links between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal have only grown stronger in the past few days, and the Gabon international appears to be in the Gunners sights. It appears that Bordeaux’s young striker Malcolm is now off the table.