Dundalk 2 Arsenal 4

Arsenal finished their Europa League Group B campaign with a 100% record as they overcame Dundalk in muddy conditions at the Aviva Stadium. Eddie Nketiah gave the Gunners the lead when he clipped his shot past Gary Rogers after an error by Andrew Boyle. Mohamed Elneny doubled the advantage with a superb strike before Jordan Flores made it 2-1 with an angled shot. Joe Willock and Folarin Balogun scored late on for the Gunners before Sean Hoare grabbed a second for Dundalk.

His side’s form in Europe is in stark contrast with their three defeats and a draw in the past four Premier League matches. The Spaniard added: “Now we have to forget about the Europa League because that’s in February. Although this was a dead rubber, the players selected in Dublin had the chance to prove to Arteta and Arsenal fans that they could be the ones to change the misfiring team’s fortunes in the Premier League. However, there were only a handful who made a strong claim, with winger and £72m club-record signing Nicolas Pepe, suspended at domestic level after his red card against Leeds, particularly underwhelming on the right with his poor decision-making and deliveries.

Of the attackers, striker Nketiah probably made the strongest claim to be in the XI against Burnley on Sunday. The 21-year-old, who has not started a league game since 4 October, became the club’s top scorer this season on five goals with his opener, and he produced four other efforts. Full-back Ainsley Maitland-Niles and midfielder Emile Smith Rowe, on the left, formed a good partnership on the left, with Arsenal looking most dangerous when they broke down that flank. Midfielder Willock impressed once more and took his low effort well, while 19-year-old substitute Balogun, who set up that goal, kept his composure for his side-foot finish. At the back, Calum Chambers was making his first start following his cruciate injury last year and made an outstanding block at 2-1 to deny Darragh Leahy an almost certain equaliser.

This was Dundalk’s final match of the season, coming after they won the FAI Cup last weekend. On a cut-up Aviva Stadium pitch they troubled Arsenal, especially in the first half. Flores lit up the night with his angled strike which, while not as impressive as his stunning entry for the Fifa Puskas award, was still superbly struck, and Hoare’s late header was just reward for the team’s efforts. Arsenal are unbeaten in nine away major Uefa games (W7 D2) – the Gunners’ longest ever streak without a defeat on the road. Arsenal have scored twice as many goals in the Europa League this season (20 in six games) as they have in the Premier League (10 in 11).

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