A hat-trick after just 19 minutes from highly-rated Reiss Nelson, coupled with strikes either side of the interval by Donyell Malen helped Arsenal u18s to a comprehensive 5-1 thrashing away against Blackburn.

Kwame Ampadu had a strong squad to pick from, bearing in mind the next and final u23s’ fixture isn’t until 8 May against Manchester United at the Emirates.

The Young Guns are currently unbeaten in the Merit Group Tier One division and their recent form has been impressive to say the least.

Arsenal started quickly as usual and Nelson scored his first after being sent through by fullback Tolaji Bola. It was the winger’s first appearance since sustaining a minor injury earlier in the month and although he is now an u23 regular, he was able to showcase just why he’s so highly-rated around north London.

Doubling the lead just two minutes later, Nelson managed to complete a hat-trick inside 20 minutes and Blackburn were understandably stunned. They’ve only won one of their Tier One fixtures thus far, a 2-1 win over West Ham.

Here, they needed to dig deep just for a comeback as Billy Barr’s players went into the interval with a three-goal deficit to overturn.

Donyell Malen, who has scored in sporadic patches this term, had made it three-one, grabbing a goal of his own shortly after the half-hour mark.

This was after Bradley Lynch had restored some form of pride for Blackburn who were constantly being exposed defensively.

Ampadu made a triple substitution after the hour mark: Eddie Nketiah, Charlie Gilmour and Vlad Dragomir were all introduced. It was the creative Romanian midfielder, Dragomir, who teed up Malen to net his sixth goal at u18 level this term.

The perfect revenge for a forgettable FA Youth Cup exit in December, Arsenal have the potential to be u18 champions – but know that consistency remains key.