Arsenal 3-0 AFC Wimbledon: Eddie Nketiah, Alexandre Lacazette and Emile Smith Rowe fire Gunners through to Carabao Cup fourth round
- Mikel Arteta made 10 changes to his Arsenal side for the Carabao Cup clash
- Arsenal captain Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring from the penalty spot
- Emile Smith Rowe then made sure of the victory by firing in with 13 minutes left
- Eddie Nketiah added the gloss to the performance with a third shortly after
- Victory secures a clash against Leeds in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup
Another win for Arsenal as they go about tidying up the complete mess they made of the start of this campaign.
This one began with a penalty scored by Alexandre Lacazette and ended with a flourish, two goals in three minutes by starlets Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah to delight home fans in the closing stages against AFC Wimbledon.
In between, they were not entirely convincing but after two wins in the Premier League, they ease into the Carabao Cup fourth round where they will face Leeds, and momentum is gathering ahead of Sunday’s derby at home to Tottenham.
Arsenal captain for the night Alexandre Lacazette steps up to put the home side ahead early on
Lacazette celebrates after firing the Gunners ahead inside 11 minutes at the Emirates Stadium
Emile Smith Rowe added a second for the Premier League outfit with 77 minutes on the clock
Eddie Nketiah (second left) put the game beyond doubt by adding a third for Arsenal late on
Arsenal (4-3-3): Leno 6; Soares 6.5, Holding 7, Mari 6.5, Tavares 6; Maitlaind-Niles 6, Partey 7 (Smith Rowe 60, 7.5), Lokonga 6; Martinelli 7.5 (Saka 76, 6.5), Lacazette 7, Nketiah 6.5 (Balogun 84)
Subs not used: Chambers, Elneny, Kolasinac, Hein
Goals: Lacazette (11, pen), Smith Rowe 77, Nketiah 80
Manager: Mikel Arteta 7
AFC Wimbledon (4-2-3-1): Tzanev 6.5; Lawrence 6, Henegan 6, Nightingale 6.5, Guinness-Walker 5.5; Woodyard 6.5, Hartigan 6; McCormick 6 (Mebude 60, 6), Assal 5, Rudoni 6 (Chislett 69, 6); Palmer 5 (Pressley 54, 6)
Subs not used: Csoka, Marsh, Alexander, Oualah
Booked: McCormick, Heneghan
Manager: Mark Robinson 6
Referee: Jarred Gillett (Australia)
‘Absolutely the mood has changed,’ said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta. ‘Winning matches brings that connection and belief and makes the fans happier. They have always been with the team. We expect them to be at higher level against Tottenham because we need them.
‘Confidence rises, competition brings the best out of you when you have difficult moments. The boys have managed to win three games in a row so credit to how they have handled the situation. Now they are looking forward to Sunday in what is the biggest game of the season for us.’
Even the Wombles from Wimbledon, those litter-picking freaks from vintage children’s telly, might acknowledge Arteta’s mini clean-up operation were it not for the fact they had a vested interest in this one.
For the League One team from South West London, it was a first trip across the capital to Arsenal since their demise and resurrection. They fought hard and tried to play their passing style, roared on by 8,000 fans.
They resisted for long spells of pressure despite conceding an early goal, when Gabriel Martinelli was cut down in the penalty area by a mistimed tackle from Wimbledon’s left-back Nesta Guinness-Walker.
Jarred Gillett, the Australian who will become the first overseas referee in a Premier League fixture when he takes charge of Watford against Newcastle on Saturday, pointed to the spot and Lacazette stepped up to score past Nik Tzanev.
Gabriel Martinelli is brought down by AFC Wimbledon’s Nesta Guinness-Walker in the area
Lacazette stepped up and sent the AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot
Smith Rowe fires through bodies to double Arsenal’s lead and all-but secure the victory
‘A disappointing goal to give away,’ said Wimbledon boss Mark Robinson, although a perfect nerve-settler for Arteta, having made 10 changes to the team that started at Burnley last weekend. Thomas Partey was the only survivor from Turf Moor.
Martinelli’s trickery on the ball caused more problems for the visitors but for more than an hour the second goal eluded Arsenal.
It nearly came via a gift when Kiwi ‘keeper Tzanev misjudged a high ball and almost pushed it into his own net. Wimbledon survived the desperate scramble, which followed and Tzanev made good saves in the second half to frustrate Partey and Nketiah.
Substitute Ethan Chislett went closest for Wimbledon but, by this stage, they were already three down and out of it.
Smith Rowe, who replaced Partey after an hour, tucked in the second from close range and Nketiah added the third with a delightful flicked finish, the goal of the night. There might have been more in a chaotic final few minutes but Arteta was satisfied.
Spirits are rising before the visit of Spurs, a truer test of the revival.
Nketiah heads home to make it 3-0 and knock League One AFC Wimbledon out of the cup
Mikel Arteta made 10 changes to his Arsenal side but they managed to get the job done
Striker Nketiah tries to scramble the ball over the AFC Wimbledon line in the first half