• By Charlie Stong

Youngsters secure top spot for Gunners


Vorskla Poltava 0 Arsenal 3

Some fine performances from Arsenal's stars of tomorrow ensured the Gunners topped Europa League Group E tonight after a convincing 3-0 win in Kiev against Vorskla Poltava.

Despite playing in their home country it seemed the eight-hour journey Vorskla took from Poltava to Kiev took more of a toll out of them than Arsenal's did all the way from London.

The match was switched to the Ukranian capital earlier this week after the country's decision to introduce martial law, but it did not appear to affect the Gunners one bit.

The most impressive performances came from Emile Smith Rowe, who appears more mature in his work with each passing game, and Joe Willock, who each scored a goal either side of an Aaron Ramsay penalty, all in the first half.

In temperatures which touched -10C at times, the hosts started the brighter of the two sides - Iurli Kolomoets firing over before Petr Cech fumbled a shot from Volodymyr Chesnakov.

But the home side's promise lasted but a matter of minutes, before Smith Rowe's far post tap-in. Shortly after that Ramsay, bound for the Gunners’ exit door in the summer, got up from being upended in the box and converted from the spot, before Willock's cool finish into the right corner - his first senior goal for Arsenal - wrapped up the points and the number one spot in the group before half-time.

It would be a huge surprise if any of the players on display tonight start against Tottenham on Sunday in the Premier League, but as he reflects on the game on the flight home this evening, Unai Emery will be delighted with the way his plan worked out.

Nobody would have blamed him had Arsenal come unstuck this evening - three days before such a big game he had to rotate, but in the end it was the perfect evening for the Gunners.

Eddie Nketiah up front was another fine performer, only let down by the part of his game which is usually most assured - his coolness in the box.

Zech Medley, Bukayo Sako and Charlie Gilmour were also all introduced from the bench on a night where Arsenal got the job done despite all the uncertainty over the game, Medley particularly catching the eye, looking calm and collected at centre-half for the final half an hour.

It's now 18 games unbeaten for the Gunners, who face two tough tests against Spurs at the Emirates on Sunday, then Manchester United at Old Trafford next Wednesday. Get to 20 unbeaten and the Gunners will be looking forward to a very happy Christmas indeed.

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