ARSENAL 5-0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST: GUNNERS STROLL INTO FOURTH ROUND

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Arsenal safely navigated their way through to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with a solid 5-0 victory over Nottingham Forest thanks to two goals from Gabriel Martinelli plus Rob Holding, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson strikes.

After a delayed 8pm kick-off due to traffic, an even opening period sprang into life just after the half-an-hour mark when good build up play saw Calum Chambers volley a brilliant ball into Martinelli from the right, who headed into the top corner to record his first goal for the club.

Emile Smith-Rowe was stretchered off just before half-time following a nasty collision but is thought to be ok.

Rob Holding made sure of the win by heading home from a Nelson corner after 71 minutes before Hector Bellerin made his return off the bench to set up Joe Willock

Nelson then added a fourth and Martinelli struck just before full-time to wrap up a perfect night at the office for the Gunners.

The Arsenal faithful have waited patiently to see their £25million signing in action, and left-back Kieran Tierney finally made his first appearance tonight following his deadline day move from Celtic.

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And it was well worth the wait, with the 22-year-old arguably man of the match. He regularly skipped past Forest defenders and found a man with a cross, and dealt effortlessly with any danger posed by the opposition.

He was replaced by the returning Bellerin with 15 minutes to go and manager Unai Emery will be delighted to see him get through 90 minutes unscathed.

Whether he can prove to be the saviour of Arsenal’s leaky defence remains to be seen.

Of the many Arsenal youngsters who took to the field tonight, Nelson more than held his own with a bright performance.

The 19-year-old forward fancied it from the start, twisting and turning the Forest defence and unluckily hitting a first-half free-kick just wide of the far post.

He continued to torment Forest in the second-half and grabbed an assist with a pinpoint corner which left Holding with an easy header before adding one himself with a simple finish.

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Following his successful loan spell at Hoffenheim last season Nelson will surely be looking to cement a place in the Arsenal first-team now, and he did his chances no harm with his performance tonight.

Some Gunners supporters seemed confused by the club’s decision to let promising young forward Eddie Nketiah join Leeds on loan for the season, especially with the 20-year-old already scoring four goals in seven appearances for the Championship club.

But perhaps all has become clearer now they have seen Martinelli’s potential.

The 18-year-old got supporters out of their seats regularly, and had his moment in the sun with a good header to open the scoring and a strike from outside the box to cap it off.

Although Arsenal’s fearsome front-line of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe means it may be a while before Martinelli appears regularly in the Premier League, the Carabao Cup could represent a real chance for the Brazilian to impress and develop.

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The loss of Nketiah suddenly does not seem so problematic.

One of the biggest cheers of the night in the ground was reserved for the ever-popular Bellerin, who made his return to replace Tierney after around 75 minutes.

The Spaniard has been absent since January and the team have struggled to cope without him at right-back.

He reminded Gunners fans what they have been missing with a typically energetic performance, and with he, Tierney and Holding now available for selection, the future is looking bright for the Arsenal back-line.

There could not have been a more popular goalscorer than Holding, and it was an emotional moment for everyone inside the Emirates when the 24-year-old headed home.

The defender has been out of action since December 2018 after rupturing his cruciate ligament, and he looked delighted to mark his return with a goal.

Here’s hoping this marks a new beginning for the ex-Bolton man.

 

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