Arsenal (1) 5 Nottingham Forest (0) 0
Carabao Cup Third Round
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Tuesday, 24th September, 2019. Kick-off time: 7.45pm
(4-2-3-1) Emiliano Martínez; Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Kieran Tierney; Lucas Torreira, Joe Willock; Reiss Nelson, Mesut Özil, Emile Smith-Rowe; Gabriel Martinelli.
Substitutes: Hector Bellerin, Dani Ceballos, Matt Macey, Folarin Balogun, Tolaji Bola, Robbie Burton, Bukayo Saka.
Scorers: Gabriel Martinelli (31, 90+2 mins), Rob Holding (71 mins), Joe Willock (77 mins), Reiss Nelson (84 mins)
Yellow Cards: Reiss Nelson
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 68%
Referee: Darren England
In the end, it was mere bagatelle, as the statistics not only speak for themselves, they positively scream out the fact that tonight was a successful night for Arsenal Football Club. Out of eight shots on target, five hit the back of the net; sixty-eight per cent possession; fifteen corners. And on top of that, a big Emirates hello to former Glasgow Celtic full-back Kieran Tierney, making his first-team debut for us after recovering from a double hernia operation. Also it was great to see Rob Holding, returning to the first team tonight after battling (and winning) his own injury issues which kept him out of the squad for seemingly forever.
Unai Emery mixed and matched the side tonight, and with good reason too; we have two important matches next week, against Manchester United and Standard Liège, so it was good to see another version of his team in this match this evening. Right from the get-go, Arsenal showed intent and determination not to be anyone’s third round casualty on a rainy North London night. Confidence always plays a major part in sport, and Arsenal positively oozed that as early as the seventeenth minute, when Shkodran Mustafi came close with a cheeky back heel shot in which he was unlucky not to score. The man of the match was undoubtedly Gabriel Martinelli, and it was fitting that it was he that opened the scoring just after the half hour mark. An elegant Joe Willock ball out to the right found Calum Chambers, who wasted no time in crossing a powerful ball deep into the Forest penalty area that found the head of Gabriel Martinelli, who showed scant regard for time in putting Arsenal one up. This fired us up into attacking Forest time and time again and we were desperately unlucky not to score a second goal before the break. On a sad note, young Emile Smith-Rowe was taken off on a stretcher just before half-time after a collision with the Nottingham Forest goalkeeper, Arijanet Muric.
The second half started, in spirit, fairly the same as the first, with Arsenal piling yet more pressure on the visitors’ goal. Joe Willock, Mesut Özil and Bukayo Saka (who replaced Emile Smith-Rowe) all came close with their efforts, and sure enough, the second goal came with nineteen minutes left on the clock, courtesy of Rob Holding, who headed the ball into the net from a Reiss Nelson corner, completely unhindered. Héctor Bellerín laid the ball on for Joe Willock to score a well-deserved third Arsenal goal, and the excellent Reiss Nelson capped off a superb personal performance on the night by scoring a fourth goal with just six minutes to go. And still we were not finished; in injury time, Gabriel Martinelli received the ball deep in the visitor’s half and drilled the ball into the top right-hand corner of the Forest net. Five-nil; a good night’s work by anybody’s standards, and more importantly, we are in the fourth round of this much-maligned competition.
So many good things came from tonight’s performance; a successful debut for Kieran Tierney, who played well and pleased the crowd, and not forgetting Rob Holding, whose knee held up well tonight. As for 18-year-old Brazilian wonderkid Gabriel Martinelli, he certainly showed the reasons why Unai Emery signed him from Ituano a couple of months ago; six million pounds well spent. His potential is immense, and all we can do is hope that he progresses accordingly from this moment onwards. Everyone played their part, everyone did everything that was expected of them (plus more). The squad will take confidence and good heart from this victory tonight, let’s just hope that this carries on to next week and the important matches that lie ahead for us. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday, 30th September at 8.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.