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Five talking points as Arsenal progress past AFC Wimbledon with a 3-0 win
24/09/2021 10:46:30

Arsenal’s hunt for an elusive League Cup remains alive and well after Mikel Arteta’s men proved too much for AFC Wimbledon to handle in the third round of the Carabao Cup.

Alexandre Lacazette bagged his second goal of the season – both of which have come in this competition, from the penalty spot after Gabriel Martinelli was fouled inside the area after eleven minutes.

The win sees Arsenal progress to the fourth round of the League Cup - a tournament the club hasn't won since 1993.

Given the lack of European football at the Emirates this season, Arteta will view the League Cup as a chance to hand minutes to fringe players who would otherwise be benched for Premier League action.

The game as a contest was far closer than both Arteta would have hoped and anticipated, the League One side causing the hosts a series of problems in the second half particularly.

However, Emile Smith Rowe's introduction turned the tide and it was the attacking midfielder who put the tie beyond any doubt when he scored Arsenal's second.

Eddie Nketiah notched his first goal of the season to make it three, but Wimbledon's efforts aren't reflected in a scoreline that perhaps flatters Arteta's side.

Bernd Leno starts

Arteta may have provided Arsenal fans with a huge hint as to who will be between the sticks for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon.

A lot of the pre-match discourse has been centred around who is viewed as Arsenal’s number one, after Bernd Leno started the first three games of the season before being dropped in place of summer signing Aaron Ramsdale.

Ramsdale, a former Wimbledon player himself, is yet to concede a goal in an Arsenal shirt but was not given the chance to against his old side this evening as Leno was favoured instead.

Before a ball had been kicked this season Leno is likely to have never expected being viewed as Arsenal’s ‘cup keeper’ but Ramsdale’s fine form has made Arteta’s mind up for him.

Leno was rarely tested by Wimbledon, but will be grateful for any minutes in his current predicament.

Given Leno featured this evening, it is likely – though not confirmed, that Ramsdale will keep his place for when Harry Kane and co. Arrive on Sunday.

Nketiah benches Balogun

Despite Folarin Balogun penning a new-deal with the Gunners at the beginning of this season and starting the opening game, the New York born forward was dropped in place of Eddie Nketiah – who has been persistently linked with a move away.

Nketiah spent the summer being touted with a move away from the Emirates, Crystal Palace one of a number of sides rumoured to be interested in the young striker.

However, a deal failed to materialise and as a result Nketiah remains an Arsenal player for now, though his start came as a surprise to some given Balogun has been heralded as one to watch, while the Gunners are rumoured to be all too willing to ship Nketiah off the books.

The former Leeds loanee spurned a number of chances in the first half to make the score-line more flattering but redeemed himself with a delightful back-heeled finish for Arsenal's third.

Shortly after, Balogun entered the fray in place of Nketiah who will view his performance as a solid night's work.

Thomas Partey’s inclusion

The Ghanian midfielder was a surprise starter in a relatively low-stakes contest, but enjoyed 60 minutes worth of action before he was benched – undoubtedly with a view to Sunday’s north London derby.

Partey’s time at Arsenal has been blighted with injury, but when the former Atletico Madrid man does get a run of games under his belt he shows exactly why Arsenal paid £45m for him.

The midfielder is still waiting for his first goal in Arsenal colours, but did come close with a second-half effort that tested the palms of Wimbledon keeper Nik Tzanev.

Having come away unscathed, the Arsenal faithful are likely to be relieved and happy that Partey got an hour of football under his belt before Sunday's clash.

Charlie Patino's omission

Tonight was meant to be the night the Emirates faithful witnessed the next Hale-End academy star in action, but Arteta opted against handing Charlie Patino his first taste of senior football.

The 17-year-old has been herdalded as Arsenal’s next midfield dynamo and likened to greats of Gunners past such as Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere – so it came as a surpise when the squad was announced and Patinos name did not feature in the starting line-up or the subs bench.

The Arsenal boss opted for more senior names such as Thomas Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga and was proven correct to do so given the physicality Wimbledon possess and showcased on the night.

Jarred Gillett takes charge

It is rare that the man with the whistle is ever a talking point for any reason other than controversy – but it was a relatively quiet evening for the Australian.

However, Gillett has been the subject of much discussion in recent days as the 35-year-old is gearing up to make history at the weekend when he becomes the first overseas official to take charge of a Premier League games.

Arsenal fans got a sneak peek at Gillett’s officiating style against Wimbeldon and they are likely to be impressed with what they saw – not just because he rewarded them with an early penalty.

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