Arsenal: Leno, Cedric, White, Holding, Tavares, Elneny, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Nketiah, Balogun
Subs: Ramsdale, Tierney, Gabriel, Partey, Xhaka, Patino, Saka, Martinelli, Lacazette
Arsenal made it through to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup after a 5-1 win over Sunderland in the Carabao Cup.
As expected, Mikel Arteta made plenty of changes, but there was still a strong element, with the likes of Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, and Ben White all starting.
The visitors had the first shot on target, Pritchard not troubling Leno unduly with a shot from the edge of the box. Balogun saw an effort blocked shortly afterwards before Nketiah headed over from a Cedric cross.
In the 12th minute, Arsenal almost found a fortuitous opener when Tavares brought the ball into the box, he crossed it into a defender’s leg and the ball clattered back off the bar. Pepe’s rebound was cleared.
We were on top, and the first goal felt like it was coming. It did, in the 16th minute when we won a corner. Cedric whipped in the corner, Holding saw a header saved, and Nketiah was there to knee the ball over the line from close range. 1-0.
The lead probably should have been doubled a couple of minutes later when a Cedric cross found Balogun at the back post, but he got his header all wrong. The young forward had another chance shortly afterwards, but shot straight at the keeper from a Smith Rowe pass.
The second goal came in the 26th minute. Arsenal worked it down the right hand side, Pepe played it to Cedric, he cut it back to Pepe who took a shot which took a deflection and ended up in the roof of the net. It was the Ivorian’s second goal of the season, both of them in this competition. 2-0.
However, rather than consolidate the lead, we let them back into it. A nice pass to Broadhead saw him advance on Leno and lift the ball over the German keeper to make it 2-1.
Leno had to make a good save to maintain the lead in the 33rd minute, and the visitors enjoyed a good spell of possession and pressure. There were calls from the crowd for a penalty on Pepe but the referee played on, Smith Rowe forced the keeper into a save with a volley from outside the box, and the first half ended with Arteta’s men taking a one goal lead into the break.
Neither side made a change for the second period, and early on the lead was extended. Tavares got away from his man down the left hand side, crossed it into the box, and Nketiah’s movement saw him get there to nick it home from close range. 3-1.
There was a yellow card for Balogun in the 54th minute, Embleton hit the outside of the post with a curling effort, and Xhaka came on to replace Balogun just a couple of minutes after his booking – it wasn’t a particularly good night for the young man, but one he should learn from.
In the 57th minute, Arsenal scored the goal of the game. Odegaard split the Sunderland defence with a great pass to Pepe, he nutmegged the defender, drove into the box, crossed for Eddie who flicked it beyond the keeper. Sensational stuff. 4-1.
Pepe was inspired by his nutmeg to do it again, this time creating a chance for Odegaard which the keeper saved, and the Norwegian almost caught the keeper out with a free kick from distance which went not far wide.
Arteta made further changes with a double Gabriel, Martinelli and Magalhaes on for White and Odegaard in the 73rd minute, and there was a yellow card for some dick called Bailey for a foul on Martinelli that was a borderline red.
The manager handed a debut to 18 year old Charlie Patino in the 79th minute when he replaced Smith Rowe, Arsenal thought they’d won a penalty when Nketiah went down in the box but the referee pointed for a goal kick instead.
Tavares blasted a shot miles over from close range after he got behind the defender, and in injury time the win was capped with a goal for the young substitute. We worked it out wide, Pepe again held it up in the box, squared it for the run of Patino who slid in to finish with his left foot and to grab a debut goal. 5-1.
All in all, a professional performance, a great night for Eddie, and we now wait to see who the semi-final opposition will be.