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Dundalk 2-4 Arsenal: 5 talking points as Nketiah and Mari make their marks

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will be pleased after fielding a number of youngsters and fringe players against Dundalk.

They emerged winners after a trip to the Republic of Ireland with the likes of Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock impressing.

As a result, they have topped their group in the Europa League with six wins out of six and now face, theoretically, an easier draw in the knockout stages.

It will be a welcome relief from their Premier League woes, where they sit 15th in the table with just 10 goals.

Arteta will now be hoping to replicate their European form domestically as they take on relegation zone dwellers Burnley at the weekend.

Here are five things we have learned from their win over Dundalk.

Mari-age of convenience

Pablo Mari returned from injury to mark a good match

With David Luiz out injured, there is a chance for one of Arsenal’s defenders to put a stamp on the first-team.

That man could be Pablo Mari, who has come back from injury at just the right time for Arsenal and had impressed prior to his long-term ankle problem.

Luiz’s passing from the back was a huge weapon at Arsenal and Mari’s range was good against Dundalk and could provide a solution to Arteta’s problems.

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Eddie’s ready

With Arsenal’s frontline failing to fire home all season, there needs to be someone giving Arteta a selection headache.

Eddie Nketiah fully deserved his first-half effort and is now Arsenal’s top scorer in all competitions.

The 21-year-old should be included from the start against Burnley with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette failing to impress.

Eddie Nketiah scored the opener for Arsenal

Elneny pushing

Another position that needs looking at is in midfield – where Arteta has problems.

Thomas Partey aggravated his thigh injury against Tottenham and is facing a spell out while Granit Xhaka was blasted for his poor performance.

Elneny was the forgotten man at the Emirates prior to this season but enjoyed a mini-revival in the first-team in the opening exchanges.

He was relegated back to the bench but his performance on Thursday night proves he is more than able to step back into the starting XI after scoring a beautiful goal.

Poor, poor Pepe

Nicolas Pepe was anonymous for large portions of the match

This was another chance for Nicolas Pepe to prove to Arteta and the Arsenal fans that he can be the answer to the Gunners’ misfiring.

But he could not get himself into the game for large periods and will have to do more to earn his first-team spot back.

His red card against Leeds United was almost forgotten after starring in the Europa League days after.

The Smith Rowe Show

Emile Smith Rowe was Arsenal’s true outstanding player on the night, giving the Dundalk defence hell all night.

Three players received bookings for tackles on the former Huddersfield loanee, who was too fleetfooted.

Unai Emery once said Smith Rowe was one of the outstanding stars in the Arsenal academy and a year later he might be able to make the step up into the first-team.

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