Kieran Tierney’s excellent strike was enough to see Arsenal seal top spot in Europa League Group A after a 1-0 home victory over Zurich on Thursday.
Mikel Arteta’s side disappointed in their last European outing with a 2-0 loss at PSV but responded with a much-improved performance to ensure they bypassed the competition’s knockout-round play-offs.
Tierney scored what proved to be the winner with a thumping first-half effort at Emirates Stadium, where Adria Guerrero saw a second-half equaliser disallowed in an otherwise dominant Arsenal showing.
Arsenal will avoid the likes of Barcelona and Juventus in Monday’s draw after topping the group, in which PSV came second, while Bo Henriksen’s side were eliminated from Europe after finishing bottom.
Zurich were without a win in five away matches against English sides in Europe but started in encouraging fashion with Lindrit Kamberi blasting a presentable opening off target.
Arsenal struck first after 17 minutes, though, as Tierney latched onto a loose ball to fire a left-footed half-volley from outside the area into the bottom-right corner.
Yanick Brecher denied Eddie Nketiah’s header from Fabio Vieira’s corner as Arsenal attempted to capitalise on the impetus from Tierney’s opener.
Gabriel Jesus inexplicably smashed over after the interval before Guerrero finished past Aaron Ramsdale on the rebound, only to see the offside flag deny him an equaliser and Zurich a share of the points.
What does it mean? European home comforts continue for in-form Arsenal
Premier League leaders Arsenal have made their north London home ground somewhat of a fortress in domestic outings, and the same can be said for their performances in Europe.
The Gunners have lost just one of their last 20 group games at home in major European competition, winning six such matches in a row, as their blistering start to the season continued.
While tougher tasks will follow at Chelsea on Sunday and in the latter stages of the Europa League’s knockout rounds, Arteta’s side continue to impress both domestically and on the continent.
Vieira has had to wait patiently for his chance at Arsenal after his move from Porto in the last transfer window, but proved his worth with an excellent performance here.
The 22-year-old, usually a deputy to Martin Odegaard, appeared to be everywhere on the pitch as he created a game-leading four chances in an encouraging attacking display.
Fabian Rohner endured a game to forget up against the astute defensive pairing of Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes.
The Zurich striker managed just eight touches and one successful pass – both lows among starters before his half-time removal – and won just one of his three duels.
Arsenal head to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in a crunch Premier League clash, while Zurich visit Lugano in the Swiss Super League on Sunday.