Arsenal youngsters accounted for three of their four goals as The Gunners compiled a perfect Europa League group stage record with a 4-2 victory over Dundalk.
Calum Chambers made his first Arsenal start in almost a year as manager Mikel Arteta’s team showed 11 changes for the Europa League Group B finale away to Dundalk.
Having recovered from a serious knee injury suffered last December against Chelsea, Chambers was recalled alongside Shkodran Mustafi and Pablo Mari.
There were also starts for Mohamed Elneny, Joe Willock and Emile Smith Rowe, as well as club-record signing Nicolas Pepe, who was banned for the weekend Premier League defeat at Tottenham.
Arsenal dominated the early proceedings and took the lead as Nketiah’s smart finish broke the deadlock with just 12 minutes on the clock.
The second goal followed soon after, this time Egypt midfielder Elneny scoring his first Arsenal goal in three years with a sumptuous finish from all of 25 yards out.
"Pick that out for a goal!" 🚀
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 10, 2020
Despite the one-way traffic, Dundalk halved the arrears as Jordan Flores flashed home a decent finish, although Arsenal goalkeeper Alex Runarsson will feel he should have done better.
A period of relative calm then descended on the contest and lasted until the stroke of half-time when the hosts spurned a chance at equalising.
A superb cross found Darragh Leahy in a dangerous position, but Calum Chambers’ last-ditch block deflected the effort over the bar to preserve Arsenal’s lead at the break
Folarin Balogun was introduced on the hour mark along with Dani Ceballos to add spark to what had thus far been a sedate second half.
The substititions paid dividends when the visitors effectively put the game to bed in the 67th minute following superb hold-up play from Balogun.
A Dundalk clearance came straight back, with the young striker pinning his marker before laying off to Willock.
The midfielder crafted a yard of space before unleashing a strike that squirmed between arm and body of the goalkeeper.
That goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Dundalk, and Arsenal’s young guns continued to capitalise.
Nicolas Pepe found a pocket of space on the edge of the area before feeding Balogun with a perfectly weighted pass. The frontman produced a fine first-time finish to sweep the ball into the far corner to make it 4-1.
The goals continued to flow, but this time at the other end as the arrears were pulled back to 4-2.
A set piece situation found Sean Hoare who has evaded his marker. His finish wasn’t pretty, with the ball appearing to go in off his shoulder, but they all count nonetheless.
The goal was little more than a consolation, however, with Arsenal emerging victorious 4-2 to make it six wins from six in the group stage.