Arsenal’s Joe Willock hands Arteta positive selection headache following impressive showing vs Dundalk

Arsenal’s Joe Willock hands Arteta positive selection headache following impressive showing vs Dundalk

Arsenal vs Dundalk

Arsenal returned to European action a short time ago.

The Gunners have been drawn in Group B of the 2020/21 Europa League, along with Molde, Dundalk and Rapid Wien.

It was the latter of this trio whom Arsenal faced last week, seeing off the Austrian outfit in by 2 goals to 1, despite a shaky display.

This game week, meanwhile, saw the north Londoners welcome Irish outfit Dundalk to the Emirates.

Dundalk began their Europa League group stage journey with a 2-1 defeat, with Mikel Arteta’s hosts overwhelming favourites ahead of kick-off on Thursday.

And, when all was said and done in the English capital, an Arsenal victory was exactly what come to fruition.

The Gunners fielded a heavily altered starting XI, with a number of heavy-hitters left on the bench.

But they were nevertheless able to pick up a comfortable win.

Arsenal dominate

Arsenal, unsurprisingly, began the clash in firm control of possession, with no.2 Alex Runarsson basically playing as a centre-back when the Gunners had the ball.

It was Dundalk who managed the first effort of the tie, though, with Runarsson forced into a solid save from a long-range strike.

As for the home side, wayward efforts from Cedric and Nicolas Pepe were their only real half-chances early on.

In truth, despite the clear gulf in quality between the two sides, Arsenal looked rather lacklustre, with Reiss Nelson one of the few bright sparks inside the opening 20 minutes.

And it was Nelson who had Arsenal’s first decent chance of the game, firing his effort just wide of the Dundalk post 23 minutes in.

The home side eventually managed a shot on target 33 minutes in, when Sead Kolasinac headed straight at the Dundalk goalkeeper from a decent Joe Willock cross.

Eddie Nketiah then really should have put Mikel Arteta’s side 1-0 up just before the break, when the ball fell to him about four yards out. But the youngster somehow managed to direct his effort wide.

Nketiah atoned for his error just moments later, though, tapping into an empty net after Dundalk’s no.1 misjudged the flight of a corner.

An Arsenal 2nd then quickly followed, with Joe Willock the scorer on this occasion, slotting home into the roof of the net following a deflected Pepe strike.

The first 45 drew to a close with Arsenal boasting perhaps a slightly undeserved 2-0 lead.

Willock shines

After a pretty slow first-half, the second 45 began in much the opposite fashion, with Nicolas Pepe’s curling effort from the edge of the box making it 3-0 less than a minute after the interval.

The Gunners were unable to add a 4th, though, with the final having eventually blown with the scoreline at 3-0.

In truth, there weren’t too many positives to take away from Thursday’s clash, from an Arsenal perspective.

Yes, they won the game comfortably, but the Premier League outfit were expected to do so anyway.

And though they did, in the end, net three times, the fact that it took the Gunners nearly 45 minutes to open the scoring against such average opposition will no doubt worry Mikel Arteta – especially given the fact that his side’s first-choice attack hasn’t exactly impressed of late, either.

One of the few bright spots for Arsenal on Thursday, however, was the display of Joe Willock.

The 21-year-old has been on the fringes of the Londoners’ first team this season, and is yet to make a single Premier League appearance.

But, after such a bright display in Europe, which saw him score one and assist one, the Englishman must surely at least be considered by Arteta for a starting berth at the weekend.

It is also worth noting that the Arsenal boss appears to be attempting to switch to a three-man midfield at present, with Willock, whose ability to drive forward from midfield was on clear display this evening, an altogether different option to any of Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos.

See also: Wolves vs Crystal Palace betting tips: Premier League preview, predictions & odds

Heart of Midlothian vs Hibernian betting tips: Scottish Cup semi-final preview, predictions and odds


This article was edited by Conor Laird.

Arsenal betting odds, next game:

Tottenham vs Arsenal odds: result, both teams to score, correct score & goalscorers

Tottenham vs Arsenal Full time result
Tottenham
10/11
Draw
11/4
Arsenal
14/5
Tottenham vs Arsenal Result/Both teams score Yes No
Tottenham 3/1 9/4
Arsenal 6/1
Draw 15/4 10/1
Tottenham vs Arsenal Correct Score
Tottenham
Arsenal
Tottenham vs Arsenal Goalscorers First Last Anytime
Harry Kane7/4 7/4 1/1
Carlos Vinicius11/5 11/5 5/4
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang9/4 9/4 8/5
Alexandre Lacazette3/1 3/1 9/4
Eddie Nketiah3/1 3/1 9/4

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Premier League table
# Team MP D P
1 Tottenham Hotspur FC 10 12 21
2 Liverpool FC 10 5 21
3 Chelsea FC 10 12 19
4 Leicester City FC 9 6 18
5 Southampton FC 10 3 17
6 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 10 0 17
7 Everton FC 10 2 16
8 Manchester United FC 9 0 16
9 Aston Villa FC 8 8 15
10 Manchester City FC 9 4 15
11 West Ham United FC 9 5 14
12 Leeds United 10 -2 14
13 Newcastle United FC 10 -3 14
14 Arsenal FC 10 -2 13
15 Crystal Palace FC 10 -3 13
16 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 10 -2 10
17 West Bromwich Albion 10 -11 6
18 Burnley FC 9 -13 5
19 Fulham FC 9 -9 4
20 Sheffield United FC 10 -12 1
Premier League 20/21
Topscorers
Disciplinary
Assists
Player Team Goals
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 10
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 9
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 8
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 8
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 7
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 7
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 7
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 7
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 6
Grealish, Jack Aston Villa FC 5
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 5
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 5
Jota, Diogo Liverpool FC 5
Ward-Prowse, James Southampton FC 4
Werner, Timo Chelsea FC 4
Mahrez, Riyad Manchester City FC 4
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 4
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion FC 4
Bowen, Jarrod West Ham United FC 4
Jimenez, Raul Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 4