Nottingham Forest 0 Arsenal 4 - EFL Cup
The good feeling continues to float around Arsenaldem after a convincing 4-0 victory away to Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup. Considering the amount of changes made (i.e all 11 players) from the previous game at Hull, we looked like a team that had played 10 games in a row this season without interruption. That in my opinion was the most impressive thing on show last night.
Nottingham Forest started quickly and the tempo of the game was very high, the home side not standing back and admiring Arsenal, instead they were very committed, overly so in the case of former Gunner Henri Lansbury who seemed to have a free pass from the referee and went around clobbering into Arsenal players at will.
With the home crowd roaring their team on and the physical approach from Forest it was very important that we remained disciplined from a defensive point of view, for the most part we held firm. Kieran Gibbs almost gifted Forest a goal though when he took a very heavy touch in his own box, Bendtner squared the ball and some fella missed the far post with a low shot.
What was also noticeable was the approach of the team was very similar to the starting 11. In years gone by full rotation would see the team play completely different from the first team. One year away to Blackburn I think stands out during the Christmas period and we dropped points. Not yesterday, we pressed them and looked to play forward at speed with quick combinations when we won the ball back. Very similar to how we played at Hull City.
There were good performances all over the pitch, I could name pretty much every player and talk about what they did well so I will restrict this to a select few.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has played at right back twice before in his career apparently, he looked like a typical modern day Arsenal right back. Granted he was not tested defensively as he would against better teams but he stretched the pitch and combined very well with the Arsenal players around him. It will be interesting to see if he is played as full back in the youth sides after this performance. Debuchy is almost certainly heading out of the club and Jenkinson’s future is unclear. A path could open up for him to get a place in the Arsenal squad as a back up right back but it’s very very early days. He will need to gain experience and consistency before any of that.
Another two of the youngsters that stood out where our attacking players. Chuba Akpom and Jeff Reine-Adelaide. Akpom playing out wide looks a more mature player to the one I saw last pre season. That Akpom seemed to play for himself, the Akpom of yesterday was very tidy in possession, crisp in his passing and caused Forest many problems. The Jeff is clearly a big talent isn’t he. So graceful in possession and looks very confident, like football is second nature to him. Looking forward to watching his progression. He is the kind of talent that would keep his place if he got a run of games.
Grant Xhaka was impressive once more but he is impressive in the way that we already know. We still need to see what he is like against a very good team, against a team that will stretch us and force him to earn his crust defensively. I would still like to see proof that he is mobile enough to get around the pitch and cover his team mates in the way that Francis Coquelin can, better opposition will show us more.
What I do enjoy from him is the way he swipes passes in between the lines into his team mates. He is great at that and is better at doing that than anybody at the club.
He can hit a ball too can’t he? He let fly from a similar position to where he scored on the weekend and the result was the same, even if his shot was helped in via a deflection.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide could have scored the second after a rapid counter attack and some lovely link up play between Ox, Akpom and the Jeff but his stretched effort dropped wide of the post.
In the second half Akpom was pushed over in the box and that gave Lucas Perez a chance to open his Arsenal account, the Spaniard did just that with a powerfully placed penalty. Lucas was tidy in the first half but perhaps not as involved as he may have liked. That involvement increased in the second half.
If that Nottingham Forest defender was an Arsenal fan then he would have known about the Lucas sneak up and steal the ball off you in the wide position after watching YouTube videos of his Deportivo games this summer.
I thought the referee may have blown for a foul when Lucas nudged the player off the ball, it was quite similar to the foul that went against Forest for our penalty but I’ll take decisions go in our favour all day long, I’m enjoying this. Lucas’ finish very calm as he rounded the keeper.
I liked the fact that later on in the game he looked to square the ball to Akpom who was in a better position, even though Lucas was on a hat-trick. It shows that he is a team player.
Lucas was not finished there though, he combined very nicely with Oxlade-Chamberlain who had a somewhat mixed bag of a performance. But Ox darted beyond the defender slotted past the keeper for a late fourth.
Hopefully the goal will give the Ox some confidence because he needs it. Lucas scored twice, played the pass for the penalty and assisted Oxlade-Chamberlain so his tail should be well and truly up.
Chelsea played a much stronger team in their game and they had to play extra time so hopefully those extra minutes in their legs will tell late on at the weekend against us.
Eight Arsenal goals in three days, a big squad of players all performing pretty much. So far so good, let's hope we continue to improve and get good results. Same again on Saturday please.