Arsenal beat Dundalk 4-1 in Thursday’s Europa League group stage clash.
If there was ever a dead-rubber, this was it. Arsenal had already secured top spot with a perfect start to Group B, while Dundalk were assured of finishing bottom without a single point thus far.
Victory would hand Arsenal their best ever group stage campaign in European competition, and Eddie Nketiah got the ball rolling 12 minutes in with a lovely dinked finish after pressurising the Dundalk centre-back.
Just six minutes later and Mohamed Elneny produced and absolute GOLAZO, with his outstanding strike echoing the goal scored by a certain Mathieu Flamini against Newcastle. Remember that one?
Dundalk pulled one back through Jordan Flores’ well-taken strike, although there were question marks over Runar Alex Runarsson’s role. After the break Joe Willock settled the tie with a close-range effort following Folarin Balogun‘s.
The substitute then turned scorer with a delightful finish from Nicolas Pepe‘s pass, with Dundalk striking back from a set-piece as Sean Hoare’s header beat Runarsson.
Far from perfect, Thursday provided some welcome respite from the impeding Premier League struggles.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Runar Alex Runarsson (GK) – 5/10 – Runarsson looks weak when faced with shots. Sadly for him, that’s quite an integral part of being a goalkeeper. Some elements look okay, but it’s clear he has a long way to go before reaching the level required.
Calum Chambers (CB) – 6/10 – His first start in nearly a year was never going to be flawless, yet Calum Chambers had arguably the better performance of the three central defenders. Played almost solely as a right-back to allow Cedric to go roaming, and made a fine block at the end of the first half.
Shkodran Mustafi (CB) – 5/10 – Did find a few teammates through the middle with some neat passes…but also fluffed a few. There were occasions we he could have shown some adventure in possession in the centre only to opt for the risk-free pass.
Pablo Mari (CB) – 6/10 – He’s quite slow, isn’t he? Not much in the way of turning circle for Mari, who understandably isn’t at full match sharpness yet. Played a few neat passes down the line, particularly in the first half, and chose when to press well. Effective reading of the play.