Arsenal continued their Europa League campaign by welcoming Irish Champions, Dundalk to the Emirates. The Gunners would run out 3-0 winners in a game that saw them struggle at first to breakdown their organised visitors. However, once Eddie Nketiah broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute, the floodgates would open as Joe Willock would add another 2 minutes later. Nicolas Pepe added a third one minute into the second half with a sublime right-footed strike from the edge of the box.
Arsenal Player Ratings
GK: Alex Runarsson: 6.5/10
Arsenal fans have been waiting a long time to see their new no.2 and tonight they got their wish. Although the Gunners weren’t playing the most formidable of opponents, Runarsson ensured he was sharp and switched on throughout the games. When called upon, he responded well by claiming 2 crosses and making 1 save.
RWB: Cedric Soares: 6.5/10
It seems as though Thursday nights will be the only time Arsenal fans see Cedric Soares. The Portuguese international has failed to make any Premier League squad this season but has featured heavily in Europe. In a solid display, the 29-year-old provided 9 crosses and created 3 chances for his teammates.
RCB: Shkodran Mustafi: 6.5/10
As one of Arsenal’s two fit centre-backs, it was imperative the German-made an appearance tonight. Mikel Arteta needs the 28-year-old to be as fit as possible, so tonight’s game was an opportunity to gain much-needed match sharpness. He will need all his wits about him for the showdown with Marcus Rashford on Sunday.
CB: Granit Xhaka: 6.5/10
Arteta’s most trusted midfield soldier was asked to do a different job today. Such is the extent of Arsenal’s injury crisis, the Swiss international had to be deployed at the centre of a makeshift back three. Although playing out of position, Xhaka was rarely tested in any 1v1 scenarios as he made only 1 tackle. Is this a preview of things to come at Old Trafford?
LCB: Sead Kolašinac: 6.5/10
Despite almost being sold in the summer, it’s become clear that Arteta has space in the squad for the Bosnian international. As an LCB off the ball and LB on it, Kolašinac played his role to perfection. The 27-year-old had 80 touches of the ball, completed 69 passes, 2 dribbles, attempted 1 shot and created 1 chance.
LWB: Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 6.5/10
Making only his seventh appearance of the season, Maitland-Niles gave a decent account of himself with an assured & versatile performance. As an LWB on paper and LCM on the ball, Maitland-Niles did well to control his zones in both the attacking and defensive phases. At first, you could see he was a bit rusty due to his lack of match sharpness, but once he got into his rhythm, he adjusted accordingly.
RCM: Joe Willock: 8/10
The Hale End Kaka had one of his finest performances in an Arsenal shirt to date. The 21-year-old was not only slick on the ball, but he was also decisive and productive in the final third. Willock played with ample amounts of confidence and showed a certain level of maturity as the team’s creative midfielder.
His runs into the box were refreshing to see as Arsenal have often been criticised for their lack of creativity in recent weeks. In a sparkling performance, the 21-year-old completed 88% of his passes, won 3 duels, created 3 chances, completed 3 dribbles and scored 1 goal.
LCM: Mohamed Elneny: 6.5/10
The reason Arteta likes Mohammed Elneny so much is due to his consistency. He’s not a world-class player or an individual with any standout attributes, but he’s just steady and reliable in what he provides. Even for the final quarter of the game, the Egyptian seamlessly slotted into the back three to top off a professional performance.
RW: Nicolas Pepe: 7/10
Arsenal fans are growing tired of waiting for the Ivorian to come good. He has shown in glimpses that he’s a special player but not provided it on a consistent basis. Tonight, we saw the best and worst of the 25-year-old as he enjoyed a mixed performance against the Irish Champions. Although he lost possession 18 times, he was still able to provide 6 crosses, create 1 chance and score 1 wonder goal.
LW: Reiss Nelson: 7.5/10
Many have been calling for the 20-year-old to make more appearances for the first team. Tonight, he showed Mikel Arteta why. The youngster showcased dazzling feet & blistering pace as he constantly glided past players. The only thing that lacked was the winger’s end product as he often got into the right positions without providing the right ball. In a display that will give his manager much to think about, Nelson created 2 chances, completed 2 dribbles and provided 10 crosses for his teammates.
ST: Eddie Nketiah: 7/10
With Alexandre Lacazette’s place in the team under threat, Eddie Nketiah showcased tonight why he should be rivalling the Frenchman on PL matchdays. The England U21 all-time top scorer was always on the move tonight as he looked to destabilise a low-block Dundalk defence. His work would not go in vain as he would bag the game’s first goal and his third of the season.
Dani Ceballos: 6/10
Brought on just to freshen up tired legs, Ceballos did well in the middle of the park to sustain Arsenal’s constant pressure.
Returning from injury, the Brazilian used this opportunity to gain some much-needed match fitness. Switching regularly between the left and right, Willian looked sharp and dangerous in the final third.
Kieran Tierney: 6/10
The left-back came on in the final part of the game to inject energy down the left flank. The Scotsman got into a few promising positions and was able to attempt a few efforts on goal in the process.
Folarin Balogun: 6/10
Tonight, the 19-year-old made his much-anticipated debut for Arsenal. Having made his mark in the U23s, Folarin Balogun’s exploits hadn’t gone unnoticed and Arteta trusted him enough to hand him a senior call-up.
In his 19 minutes on the pitch, Balogun didn’t get much service but his final third movement and pressing were promising and left Arsenal fans wanting more.