Result: West Brom 0-6 Arsenal
Competition: Carabao Cup, 2nd Round
Date: 25 August 2021
Venue: The Hawthorns
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tavares, Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac, Elneny, Xhaka, Odegaard, Pepe, Saka, Aubameyang
Subs: Leno, Mari, Maitland-Niles, Sambi, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Lacazette
Arsenal beat West Brom 6-0 at The Hawthorns as Mikel Arteta’s side made light work of a first appearance League Cup second round in 26 years.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang kick-started his season with a hat-trick and Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alex Lacazette also got on the scoresheet as the Gunners attacking unit finally found its groove after two blanks in the league.
Arsenal’s reward is a showdown with AFC Wimbledon in three weeks time.
New signings Aaron Ramsdale and Martin Odegaard were both handed their first starts as Mikel Arteta mixed things up following the defeat to Chelsea. The Norwegian filled in for Emile Smith Rowe in the number 10 role and, alongside Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe, was charged with providing ammunition to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Mo Elneny, in for Sambi, and Granit Xhaka sat in front of a defence made up of Nuno Tavares, Sead Kolasinac, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers. Alex Lacazette, back from his bout of Covid, was on the bench.
If there were fears pre-game that an in-form West Brom would go hell for leather with a physical approach, they were allayed when the team sheets revealed the home side’s average age was 22. Manager Valerian Ismael, citing the league as a priority, was happy to play his kids despite knowing the potential consequences.
To be fair, the Baggies made a go of things early on. While Arsenal had most of the ball, the home side created a flurry of half-chances inside the opening 15 minutes. Ramsdale had to deny Tom Fellows with a save low to his right and from the resulting corner, Adam Reach’s effort trickled just past the post.
Despite our recent problems, the Gunners looked confident and composed. Odegaard had a few neat touches that kept things moving in midfield and Bukayo Saka buzzed around with his usual energy.
It was the England international’s determination that led to our opener. Having attempted a cross that was cleared, he pounced on the loose ball on the edge of the area, barged past a couple of defenders and drilled a low effort that keeper Palmers spilt into the path of Aubameyang. The striker, showing good awareness, couldn’t miss from three yards out. (1-0)
It should have been two five minutes later when Saka caused more havoc with a run and shot that was deflected into the path of Odegaard. The Norwegian from a tight angle hit the post.
Palmer denied Aubameyang the chance to double the lead on 34 minutes when he raced out of goal to clear but the reprieve was only temporary.
In the closing stages of the half we scored a quick-fire brace to kill the game. Pepe, played in by Elneny, hit the post before Auba tucked home the rebound. (2-0)
Our captain then squandered a fine chance for a hat-trick but after having a clipped effort saved managed to fortuitously find Pepe with an overhead kick that the Ivorian tapped home. Again, Saka had done brilliantly in the build-up. (3-0)
We picked up where we left off. Saka charging from midfield played the ball to Odegaard who flicked the ball around the corner and the 19-year-old finished on the run with real swagger in front of the travelling fans. He, they, we all, enjoyed that one. (4-0)
The home side made life difficult for Ramsdale for five minutes as they forced the new boy into a couple of saves. He then winded himself as he fell awkwardly claiming a corner.
Odegaard, who was very polished all evening. made it as far as the hour mark before being replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Playing in midfield, he immediately helped himself to an assist, laying off to Aubameyang who cut in off the left to curl a beauty into the top corner. (5-0)
Alex Lacazette came on for his first appearance of the season in place of Granit Xhaka and with his first touch released Pepe. One on one with the keeper, the winger beat the keeper with his chip only for it to clip the bar. We didn’t have to wait long for our sixth. Pepe turned provider for Lacazette who crashed home first time as he burst into the box. It was a lovely finish. (6-0)
Ramsdale produced another eye-catching stop to ensure some of the plaudits went his way, Auba went off to a standing ovation and Laca nearly added a seventh. There was a late scare then Saka was floored by a late challenge but he managed to limp his way to the final whistle.
After a horrible start to the new campaign, this evening certainly provided some light relief. That said, there won’t be many of you sticking money on us repeating the trick at the Eithad on Saturday.