LONDON -- Arsenal made it two wins from two in Europa League Group B as a burst of scoring either side of halftime carried them to a 3-0 win over Dundalk at the Emirates Stadium.
Eddie Nketiah pounced on a mistake from goalkeeper Gary Rogers to bundle home Arsenal's opener in the 40th minute, breaking the visitors' stern resolve before Joe Willock and Nicolas Pepe struck to take the game out of Dundalk's reach by the 46th minute.
Catch up with the key talking points from the game below:
Arsenal's familiar problem
Mikel Arteta seems to take a great deal of pride in opponent's belief that their best chance of success at the Emirates Stadium is sitting deep and challenging Arsenal to break them down. Speaking ahead of Thursday's game he reflected on the 1-0 loss against Leicester City, a match where the Foxes sacrificed possession and territory at the Emirates before hitting them with a Jamie Vardy sucker punch.
"I think it is a really good sign when Leicester suddenly comes to your house and acts like that, it is because they really respect you now and they are concerned," Arteta said. "We have to take that as something very positive and and as an advantage because if teams are going to start to do that, I'm telling you we are going to win a lot of games."
And yet the harsh reality is that there haven't been many signs that Arsenal are going to win against low blocks, such is their inability to break down these defensive banks. Even against these relative minnows it took an almighty helping hand for Nketiah to open the scoring in a game where, Reiss Nelson aside, there was no one who looked like he might slide a pass behind the Dundalk defense.
Dundalk's diligence undone
For all that Arsenal had been architects of their own difficulties better sides than the Gunners would have had their work cut out for them breaking down a Dundalk side who did the simple things right in defense. The value of that cannot be underestimated.
They knew their best chance to frustrate Arsenal would come from forcing their hosts to sling crosses into the box and were rightly convinced that their back three, anchored by the giant Andy Boyle, could deal with Nketiah. Their plan was working to perfection as they allowed a string of corners without all that much pressure.
It made all the more crueller a twist when their plan eventually backfired, Rogers miscuing a punch when he might have felt he was impeded by Joe Willock.
The Lillywhites certainly did their standing no shame in a match that was where a few minutes of misfortune and carelessness either side of half-time dictated the outcome. They would do well to reflect on the other 80-odd minutes when they at least held firm against top tier opposition.
No clues for Manchester United
One might have sensed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's gameplan in last night's stunning 5-0 win over RB Leipzig was one he could look to replicate when Manchester United welcome Arsenal to Old Trafford on Sunday. Don't fear your opponents' possession (particularly without a convincing attacking focal point), soak up the pressure and explode on the counter.
Where Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes did the damage off the bench in the Champions League it could be Mason Greenwood at the weekend. Arteta's selection was clearly informed by the trip up north on Sunday with 10 changes and few of the starters likely to feature in a few days' time.
How Arsenal's severely weakened defense, likely to be without David Luiz in addition to more long-term absentees, responds to United's explosive attacking will surely dictate the game but Solskjaer will have got little indication of any plans Arteta might have tonight. That is unless the Gunners boss intends to do something really unorthodox and start Granit Xhaka in the heart of a back three, as he did tonight.
Reiss Nelson: The young forward seemed to take it as a matter of personal affront that he had been so peripheral for Arsenal so far this season. Every time the ball came his way his first instinct was to attack the defense, to draw them out of shape with direct running. It often felt like his side's only real prospect of a goal. RATING: 8
Cameron Dummigan: On a gruelling night for the Irish side, who had just 35% possession over the first 65 minutes, their left wing-back was particularly impressive for his hard running up and down the pitch and his commitment in the tackle. RATING: 6
Joe Willock: He remains some way from the finished article -- it was notable how often Arteta and Mohamed Elneny had to adjust his positioning in midfield -- but when Arsenal are on the attack his late runs into the box are a great addition. RATING: 7
After their Premier League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford Arsenal will welcome Molde to the Emirates Stadium. Meanwhile Dundalk's next game in the competition will take them to Austria to face Rapid Wien.
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