Arsenal Wenger made me love the League Cup because it was a competition that we saw the young & future gunners in action. And they rarely disappointed, scoring for fun.
Last night Eddie Nketiah scored a hat-trick while 18 year old Charlie Patino came on as a substitute to score on his debut. Out-of-favour Nicolas Pepe was also instrumental last night. The Ivorian got a goal and provided assists for Patino and Nketiah.
Arteta started a mixture of youth, fringe and regular players: Leno, Cedric, White, Holding, Tavares, Elneny, Smith Rowe, Odegaard, Pepe, Balogun, Nketiah. The bench had the regular players and Charlie Patino. I had expected Salah-edine but Patino was fine.
Chambers and Lokonga tested positive for Covid-19 while Niles was ill before the game. They missed the opportunity to feature this goal fest
Sunderland didn’t just lie down at the Emirates, they put up a fight until the goal came in the 17th minute. Holding’s header was saved but it fell to Nketiah he kneed home the opener.
Pepe made it 2-0 in the 27th minute – converting a nice one-two with Cedric on the right and finishing via a deflection. The Gunners were cruising.
That cruise was punctured when Sunderland halved the deficit in the 31st minute. The goal gave the Black Cats hope and so they surged forward with more vigour. Arsenal held on till the break.
After the break, it was the Eddie & Pepe show. First Eddie turned in a low cross from Tavares in the 49th minutes before he hot his hat-trick few minutes later. Odegaard slipped a pass through for Pepe on the right. Pepe nutmegged a black cat and found Eddie in the 58th minute. The young striker scored what will be among the goals of the season, a flick-in.
Then there was 30mins of no goals before Patino slid in to score on his debut in the 91st minute – an assist from Pepe.
It was a good game overall and the intent was to score and goals they got. Eddie continues to show he is poacher in the box – very dangerous with few yards from goal. Good to see Pepe score and assist.
It was a good game for Flo Balogun, although he started on the left. A January loan will help his experience. Leno couldn’t get a clean sheet but that is the least of our problems.
We are through to the semi final. The draws will be made tonight. It is most likely a London Derby for us. It could even be a North London derby.