Arsenal's youngsters starred in Azerbaijan to lead the Gunners to a 3-0 win over FK Qarabag and make it eight wins on the bounce for the north London club.
Despite the weakened side, it took Arsenal just three minutes to take the lead. An out swinging corner was met well by Nacho Monreal who headed down and Sokratis Papastathopoulos applied the final touch to guide the ball past a helpless Vagner da Silva from point blank range.
Bernd Leno was called into action a couple of times as the half progressed to protect Arsenal's lead, but the Gunners were good value for their 1-0 lead at half time.
Qarabag came out for the second half with renewed vigour, and would have been on level terms just before the 50th minute had the offside flag not disallowed a smart finish from Mahir Madatov.
Arsenal would double their lead just three minutes after almost conceding though, a swift counter attack would see Emile Smith-Rowe slot home cooly after being played through by Alex Iwobi to give the Gunners some breathing room.
Mateo Guendouzi would seal the deal for the Gunners with 10 minutes to go after yet another Arsenal counter attack. Substitute Alexandre Lacazette picked the perfect pass to find Guendouzi who drilled home from just inside the area to cap off an impressive display. 3-0 didn't flatter the Premier League club, who looked a class above.
Key Talking Point
A home match against a second string side that's still adapting to a new manager, this is a match that Qarabag should've been looking at as winnable.
The reality was very different though, and on this showing the Azerbaijani club simply won't have enough quality to progress from this group. The side does show promise in some areas, but there's a tactical naivety to the way they play, and Arsenal made them pay on the counter.
Starting XI: Vagner (5); Medvedev (4), Guseynov (6), Rzezniczak (5), Agolli (5); Michel (6), Garayev (6); Madatov (6), Ozobic (5), Zoubir (6*); Emeghara (5).
Substitutes: Delarge (5), Abdullayev (N/A), Slachev (N/A).
STAR MAN - Abdellah Zoubir
In a side that seems to lack any creativity, Zoubir was the stand out when Qarabag came forward against Arsenal.
Zoubir’s a tidy footballer.— Pain In The Arsenal (@PainInThArsenal) October 4, 2018
Though his contribution wasn't reflected by goals or assists, Qarabag's positive moves all seemed to go through the attacking midfielder.
WORST PLAYER - Maksim Medvedev
Qarabag's captain simply couldn't deal with the combined threat of Sead Kolasinac and Alex Iwobi in the first half, and his performance was best summed up by the yellow card he received for dragging back Iwobi.
Iwobi nutmegging Medvedev and then shoving him to the floor with disdain a particular highlight so far.— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) October 4, 2018
He did try to get forward more in the second half, but appeared incapable of affecting the match in the final third either, frequently delivering a disappointing final ball.
Key Talking Point
Looking at Arsenal's line up on paper you could've been forgiven for asking where the goals were going to come from. Danny Welbeck is hardly prolific and the Gunners' midfield looked functional rather than creative.
This is where Unai Emery's choice of system really came to the fore, because despite the lack of a recognised goal scorer or play maker, Emery's 3-4-3 was creating chances at an impressive rate. It'll be interesting to see whether the Spaniard elects to play with a three man defence in the Premier League too.
Starting XI: Leno (8); Holding (7), Sokratis (7), Monreal (6); Lichtsteiner (6), Elneny (6), Guendouzi (8), Kolasinac (8*); Smith-Rowe (7), Welbeck (6), Iwobi (7).
Substitutes: Torreira (6), Ozil (5), Lacazette (6).
STAR MAN - Sead Kolasinac
The Bosnian was definitely the main beneficiary of Emery's choice to play a 3-4-3. His link up play down the left hand side in the first half created multiple chances for Arsenal.
Although the change to a back four in the second half stifled his attacking output somewhat, Kolasinac was the stand out both in an attacking sense and defensively. A shout out should go to Guendouzi too, who was impressive in the middle of the park and scored a well deserved goal.
WORST PLAYER - Danny Welbeck
With all due respect to Welbeck, this showing should make Gareth Southgate question just why he's included the forward in his latest England squad.
Welbeck with the captain armband is embarrassing— KHVL (@Kanderz_) October 4, 2018
Ineffective and outshone by those around him, Welbeck is a long way from the quick and powerful finisher he used to be. This was a good opportunity for him to show why he should be starting for the Gunners, but this performance will convince nobody.
Arsenal now face a trip to Portugal to face Sporting in their next Europa League contest, and Qarabag will be looking for a much improved performance as they host Vorskla.