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Arsenal 3-0 Dundalk: 5 Talking Points as Gunners romp to victory | UEFA Europa League 2020-21

Arsenal striker Joe Willock celebrates.
Arsenal striker Joe Willock celebrates.
Sunaadh Sagar
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 30 Oct 2020, 04:58 IST
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Arsenal put behind their disappointing loss to Leicester City in the Premier League, with an impressive 3-0 win over Dundalk in the 2020-21 UEFA Europa League. The Gunners' first win over Irish opposition sees them topping the Group B table, level on points with Molde, while Dundalk are rock bottom along with Rapid Wien.

Dundalk acquitted themselves well in the opening half, restricting Arsenal to half-chances. The Irish champions then shot themselves in the foot when goalkeeper Gary Rogers flapped at a corner. The ball eventually deflected to Eddie Nketiah as he stabbed home the opener in the 42nd minute.

The dam had burst. So when Nicolas Pepe's cross in the 44th minute deflected to Joe Willock in space in the left channel, it was no surprise to see the latter hammer a rising shot into the net and make it 2-0 in the 44th minute.

Arsenal started the second half in storming fashion. Pepe guided a beautiful right-footed shot into the top corner from the edge of the box with just 30 seconds gone, to make it 3-0.

The Gunners went on to dominate the rest of the half, coming close to scoring multiple times but eventually saw out the game to make it two wins from two in Europe this season.

On that note, here are five talking points from an entertaining night at the Emirates Stadium in London.


#5 Alex Runarsson makes a confident debut for Arsenal

Alex Runnarsson
Alex Runnarsson
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Bernd Leno has had a nervous few games for Arsenal of late. So it was no surprise to see Mikel Arteta name Alex Runnarsson in his starting lineup.

The Iceland international was called straight into action. He had to make a great diving save to divert Patrick McEleney's long-range shot away for a corner. Standing an inch over six feet, Runnarsson strangely looks shorter than he is, but whenever Dundalk aimed a threatening ball into the box, he was on hand to collect with ease as confidence brewed among the Arsenal defenders.

The Irish champions failed to test Runnarsson adequately. Nevertheless, even in such a game, the former Dijon keeper quietly impressed. He was also quick with his distribution.

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It's a welcome relief for Arteta, who will be glad to have a decent backup for Leno after Emi Martinez's move to Aston Villa.


#4 Dundalk require a miracle to qualify

Dundalk FC vs Molde FK: Group B - UEFA Europa League
Dundalk FC vs Molde FK: Group B - UEFA Europa League

The Irish champions had created history with a win over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the group stage of their last Europa League sojourn in 2016. However, not much was expected from Dundalk when the 2020-21 Europa League draw was made. 

Manager Filippo Giovagnoli did set his side up well in their opening game against Molde. Dundalk led for the better part of an hour before going down 2-1. The Irish side had a similar game in North London, managing to keep Arsenal at bay for 40 minutes, with the Gunners looking unusually quiet.

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It all went wrong for Dundalk after an error from keeper Gary Rogers, though. However, defenders Andrew Boyle and Brian Gartland put in impressive defensive shifts against Arsenal. There was an element of naivety to Dundalk's game as well.

With losses in their opening two games and having to play their home games in a ground that is not their own, it looks unlikely that Dundalk may manage to get a win, let alone qualify from the group.

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Published 30 Oct 2020, 04:58 IST
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