Molde vs Arsenal result: Five things we learned as Gunners seal passage from Europa League group
Reiss Nelson impresses for Arsenal
Squad points proven
A couple of the younger Gunners might feel they continue to knock on the door for regular inclusion thanks to their European exertions.
On the night in Norway it was Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock who impressed most – not for the first time for the latter in particular.
There’s a real hunger about Willock’s movement going forward, a desire to get into the area and beyond the striker, but it doesn’t come at the expense of being in position defensively.
His cross for Nelson’s goal was a great example of his vision and technical ability, while Nelson himself was one of Arsenal’s more progressive players in both halves. Given the team’s struggles to find regular scoring chances, they must both hope for inclusion in Premier League games in the coming weeks.
With a win, Arsenal can consider it job done – they are into the knock-out phase in the new year.
There’s no point holding punches: this group was a real shocker, offering absolutely no challenge to the Gunners with sides from Norway, Ireland and Austria – six wins from six can be considered standard, if they achieve it.
The important task was merely to qualify, but the better positive is doing so while keeping squad members involved and resting a few who have been overworked elsewhere.
Arteta now gets a free pass for two fixtures essentially, with some youngsters perhaps in line for inclusion before the somewhat more relevant business of the latter stages begins in 2021.
Nicolas Pepe bounces back after his red card against Leeds
Perhaps the third goal gave a glimpse of who the next batch of youngsters to get their chance will be.
Emile Smith Rowe has long been tipped to make a spectacular breakthrough for the Gunners, but he has had to be patient with a loan spell or two and a gradual inclusion at first-team level.
The attacking midfielder has to find his own role in the team, which doesn’t habitually play with a central No. 10 under Arteta, but he can certainly fill in across a variety of roles – and there’s scope to experiment with the last two Europa games, of course.
Meanwhile, goalscorer Balogun was rumoured to be close to a summer exit amid a contract dispute, but he scored his first senior goal here and showed plenty of forward movement – there’s never any shortage of excitement over young talents who can find the back of the net.
One set up the other for the 3-0 clincher and perhaps both might feature more heavily against Rapid and Dundalk.
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