Vorskla Poltava 0 Arsenal 3
Smith-Rowe 10, Ramsey 27, Willock 41

Arsenal secured top spot in Group E of the Europa League with a 3-0 win over Vorskla Poltava in Kiev. Emile Smith-Rowe struck after ten minutes with a well taken goal and in bitterly cold conditions, the Gunners fired two further strikes when Aaron Ramsey struck from the penalty spot after he was bundled over. Joe Willock then also netted before half time for a 3-0 first half scoreline from which the hosts were never going to recover from. Unai Emery made ten changes from the side which prevailed at Bournemouth last week end, with only Rob Holding retaining his place. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil were among a host of first team players to have remained in London, and given UEFA’s decision to switch the game to Kiev, 200 miles away from the original venue due to security concerns along the Russian border, that turned out to be an even better move, and especially with Sunday’s north London derby on the immediate horizon.

The manner is which this much changed Arsenal line up thrived against Vorskla suggests that the coaches and the Hale End academy are doing some great work. Eddie Nketiah and Ramsey combined with some quick inter passing before the ball fell for Smith-Rowe for a smart finish for the game’s opener after ten minutes. It was 18 year old ¬†Smith-Rowe’s third goal in his last four games.

Despite their relative inexperience in the ranks, ¬†Gunners were moving the ball well, with the experienced Stephan Lichsteiner, Mohamed Elneny, Ramsey, Carl Jenkinson and Petr Cech in goal, and all guiding the side. When Smith-Rowe, raced forward on the left, he found Ramsey. The former Wales captain was impeded by his marker for a penalty. Ramsey dusted himself off to fire in Arsenal’s second.

Three minutes before the break, Elneny’s through ball fell just right into the path of the on rushing Willock. Having composed himself, the Arsenal striker took aim and curled the ball beyond Shust in the Vorskla goal.

Medley, Gilmour and Saka came on in the latter stages of the second half, adding to the energy and skills of youth.

Nketiah got into some promising positions, but was unable to find the target, while Smith-Rowe and Willock had chances to extend the tally. That said, Emery will have been pleased to have reached the last 32 of the Europa League with a game to spare. Qarabag make their way to the Emirates stadium in a fortnight, when Arsenal could field another youthful side.

Emery was delighted to have progressed in the Europa League and later praised his young Gunners and the efforts of Smith-Rowe in particular.

“He is taking confidence, he is taking responsibility and also I think today his performance in 90 minutes was very good.

“He is a good example for the other young players. We think they can help us but they need the confidence of playing matches, not only working with us in the training sessions.

“They need to take minutes in matches like today. We want and have the responsibility with the young players like Emile but also the others for them to stay, work and show us that they can improve and stay with us,” said Emery.

Arsenal will now focus on Sunday’s north London derby where another much changed first team will aim to keep the unbeaten run going.