Joe Willock put in another man of the match performance as Arsenal showed again they can give the opposition a head start and still win.
Mikel Arteta’s men followed a now familiar script of starting slowly, getting better and then coming out on top with a comfortable victory to put themselves on course for the Europa League knock out stages.
Gunners midfielder Willock, 21, was one of the exceptions as he was good throughout with a goal to become the youngest Arsenal player to reach five European goals since Theo Walcott.
But Arteta did not look happy even when Arsenal were winning because they were so sloppy at times and the mix-and-match line-up of first teamers, fringe players and youngsters are making a habit of it in this competition.
Nicolas Pepe could hardly put one foot in front of the other in the first half, Bernd Leno was punished for a poor clearance with Molde’s opener and Arsenal needed a gift of two own goals.
They were sloppy against Dundalk last week but came through easy winners and went behind at Rapid Vienna only to come through and win two weeks ago.
Eventually, Pepe did also come good as he scored and provided the assist for Willock’s late fourth which just about summed up Arsenal’s night going from slow starters to convincing winners.
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It was also another opportunity for Willock who looks a real prospect thanks to his energy and forward runs but may struggle to break into the first team while they are in good form in the Premier League.
Arteta said: “Joe Willock could have scored more, he created a goal and a good performance. Keep doing what he is doing consistently and his chance will arrive (in the Premier League).
“It was really important for us to win tonight and go top of the group. We had a convincing victory and the boys tried to go for them from the first minute.
“We went a goal behind but it was about the reaction, we created lot of chances.”
Molde took a surprise lead after 22 minutes when Leno tried to play long – and got punished. His clearance only reached Stian Gregersen, Molde captain Magnus Wolff Eikrem played it onto Martin Ellingsen who beat Leno from 25 yards.
Eddie Nketiah had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside but there is no VAR in this competition but they got level in first half injury time. Granit Xhaka and Willian launched a lightning counter attack, Nketiah put over a cross and Kristoffer Haugen put through his own net.
Sead Kolasinac was guilty of the worst miss of the season before Arsenal went ahead and took charge. Willian’s 63rd minute cross was turned into his own net by Sheriff Sinyan.
Finally Arsenal got one of their own after 69 minutes as substitute Bukayo Saka provided yet another assist – his 14th in all competitions since the start of last season – for Pepe to fire home.
Arsenal got a fourth in the dying minutes when Pepe’s pass put in Willock who fired home into the top corner.
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