A wan smile could possibly be glimpsed on Eddie Nketiah’s face when, with 28 minutes left, he swapped locations with Folarin Balogun and headed to the bench. Nketiah in all probability sensed there have been extra targets for him in an entertaining sufficient sport, having opened the scoring with a textbook instance of the attacking aggression Arsenal have missed. However maybe he knew, too, that within the 19-year-old Balogun he has critical competitors. If an absence of targets is a significant reason behind their nosedive within the Premier League, there may be a lot to recommend that needn’t be an issue in the long term.
Inside moments of his arrival, Balogun held off his man and teed up a purpose for Joe Willock. He continued to make use of the ball astutely after which, in the direction of the top, he swept Arsenal’s fourth dwelling confidently from 12 yards after a Nicolas Pépé move. There’s something about the way in which he carries himself that appeals to the intuition: Balogun simply appears to be like the half and, assuming Arsenal lastly resolve his long-term future, it can’t be lengthy earlier than he’s invited to switch a pure assuredness to a extra exalted stage.
“He was excellent,” Mikel Arteta stated of Balogun, who had scored his first senior purpose in opposition to Molde a fortnight in the past. “He seemed a menace once more. He seemed actually vigorous and mature on that pitch. Hopefully we will attain an settlement and prolong his contract.”
Given Arsenal’s rapid considerations it will be unwise to extrapolate an excessive amount of from a sport between two sides whose fates had lengthy been sealed. Arsenal have romped by Group B; Dundalk depart pointless however with eight targets and loads of goodwill. Inevitably the depth dropped at instances however Arteta may absolutely do worse than mix a component or two from his buccaneering Europa League aspect when Burnley go to on Sunday.
Nketiah’s purpose made a degree of its personal in each method and timing. He has not began a top-flight match for over two months and, whereas sure facets of his sport require improvement, his charging down of Andy Boyle’s clearance and subsequent chip previous Gary Rogers supplied a microcosm of his strengths. Final season Nketiah constructed a fame for forcing errors and, given his penalty space instincts are past reproach, maybe he presents the sting they require?
“He’s vigorous, he’s received the starvation, he’s solely happy when he scored and he’s an possibility for certain,” Arteta stated. Mohamed Elneny tends to pack much less of a punch however doubled Arsenal’s lead with a 28-yard screamer after good work from Emile Smith Rowe, who was beginning for the primary time this season and made his personal case to push on.
Dundalk responded by Jordan Flores, whose raking drive beat Alex Rúnarsson earlier than half-time. They’d sniffs of an equaliser however needed to accept the ultimate phrase, Sean Hoare heading in close to the top. Between these targets Balogun had made his mark; now he’ll hope for one more likelihood. “We have to begin profitable soccer matches instantly,” Arteta stated. On current proof, his youth merchandise wouldn’t be cowed by that problem.