5 talking points as Arsenal comfortably see off Dundalk in the Europa League


Arsenal made it two wins out of two in the Europa League with an easy 3-0 victory over Dundalk in Group B.

After a slow start to the game the Gunners finally opened the scoring on 42 minutes when Eddie Nketiah took advantage of a mistake by the Dundalk ‘keeper to poke home from a corner.

Just minutes later it was two after Joe Willock finished well from a rebound, and straight after half-time Nicolas Pepe made it three with a finish from outside the box to finish the game as a contest.

Mikel Arteta’s side are now top of their group, and have another home European game to come next week when they take on Norwegian side Molde.

Here are five talking points from the Emirates…

Goals finally fly in for Gunners

This was a much-needed big win for Arsenal

It may have only been Dundalk, but this victory will have done Arsenal’s attacking players the world of good confidence-wise.

Previous to tonight they had suffered two consecutive 1-0 defeats, and questions were beginning to be asked about Arteta’s ability to set up the team offensively.

For 43 minutes it looked like it could be another night of frustration, but suddenly the floodgates opened and the goals flew in.

They certainly looked a lot sharper going forward, with fast-paced passing and much more creativity than we have seen in recent weeks.

The big question now is whether they will be able to do the same against Manchester United this weekend in what already looks like being a potentially huge game in their Premier League campaign.

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The problem of Pepe

Nicolas Pepe scored Arsenal’s third goal

What a very strange player Nicolas Pepe is.

In the first half it looked like being another one of those nights for the unpredictable Ivory Coast winger.

He lost possession 15 times after constantly dribbling into Dundalk defenders, and he also put in an early contender for worst corner of the season when he managed to find the side netting rather than any teammates.

Yet just when he was being written off again he came out in the second half on fire and scored a delicious goal to make it three before he was withdrawn on the hour.

Whether he will ever find consistency in north London remains to be seen, but he is certainly fascinating to observe, as you simply never know what you’re going to get.

Wonderful Willock

Joe Willock was arguably Arsenal’s Man of the Match

Joe Willock was a man with a point to prove tonight, and he took advantage of his rare start with an accomplished performance in the middle of the park.

The 21-year-old constantly made brave choices with the ball, and took his goal well with a beautiful touch before his thumping finish.

He also grabbed an assist by setting up Pepe’s strike, and was at the centre of everything Arsenal did well.

Considering how little football he has played so far this season Willock could not have done much more tonight, and he may well have played himself into Arteta’s thinking as the Gunners’ packed fixture schedule continues.

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Runarsson makes Arsenal bow

Runar Alex Runarsson had a solid debut

Arsenal fans got their first sight of new backup goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson tonight since he joined from Dijon last month.

Although he had a relatively quiet evening, there were signs of promise, and the Icelandic international did well to tip away an early long-range effort with relative ease.

He also claimed a number of corners with a bellowing cry of “Alex’s!”, and he was vocal and confident throughout.

Tougher tests will no doubt follow, but as debuts go it couldn’t have gone much better for Runarsson, and considering he only cost around £1m the 25-year-old could well prove to be a smart bit of business.

Qualification already in sight

Arsenal look certain to qualify for the knockout stages already

With a home game against Molde coming up next week, Arsenal could all but seal their qualification to the knockout stages with victory.

Arteta will no doubt be desperate to get over the line as quickly as they can, and would no doubt appreciate having one or two games where he is able to experiment and play the kids without pressure.

Their fixture list does not look kind towards the end of November going into December, with the Gunners facing the likes of Wolves, Tottenham, Everton and Chelsea in the festive period, and the opportunity to rest key men is one which could be crucial.

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