Young Gunners seize their chance

Emile Smith Rowe (right) congratulating Joe Willock after his goal for Arsenal during the Europa League match against Vorskla Poltava in Kiev on Thursday. Smith Rowe also scored in the English team's 3-0 win.
Emile Smith Rowe (right) congratulating Joe Willock after his goal for Arsenal during the Europa League match against Vorskla Poltava in Kiev on Thursday. Smith Rowe also scored in the English team's 3-0 win.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KIEV (Ukraine) • If there was any indication of where Unai Emery's priorities lay, it was evident in his team selection for Arsenal's Europa League dead-rubber tie at Vorskla on Thursday.

The Gunners manager showed he had more than one eye on tomorrow's London derby with Tottenham, bringing to Ukraine just two men who started their previous Premier League game - Rob Holding and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

The decision to bring a host of academy players, however, proved no impediment as Arsenal, who had already qualified for the round of 32, secured top spot in Group E, coasting to a 3-0 victory in Kiev.

Although Uefa moved the fixture from the city of Poltava at the last minute, with parts of Ukraine under martial law as political tensions with Russia continue to rise, the inconvenience did little to knock Arsenal off their stride.

Youth-team midfielders Emile Smith Rowe, 18, and Joe Willock, 19, scored either side of an Aaron Ramsey penalty in a match played in -10 deg C conditions.

Emery praised Smith Rowe, who has three goals in his last four appearances, as "a good example for the other young players".

"He is taking confidence, he is taking responsibility and also, his performance in 90 minutes is very good," the Spaniard said.

"We want and have the responsibility with young players like Emile but also the others, to stay, work and show us they can improve and stay with us (the first team)."

Chelsea will also avoid any of the Champions League dropouts in the next round, after thrashing Paok 4-0 at home to top Group L.

Olivier Giroud answered his manager Maurizio Sarri's demand for a reaction after their last game ended in a 3-1 league loss to Spurs.

Callum Hudson-Odoi and substitute Alvaro Morata were the other scorers, and Giroud felt that the emphatic manner of the victory would "start some new momentum".

"Four goals plus a clean sheet, a good night for us. When the manager starts me, I try to give my best, do my part," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2018, with the headline 'Young Gunners seize their chance'. Print Edition | Subscribe