Eddie Nketiah’s superb, back-heeled flick helped Arsenal claim a 3-0 win over AFC Wimbledon at the Emirates Stadium as they set up a Carabao Cup fourth-round tie against Leeds United.
Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring for the much-changed Gunners when he converted from the penalty spot after Gabriel Martinelli had been brought down (10).
Arsenal were made to wait to extend their lead by their League One opponents but substitute Emile Smith Rowe finally turned home a loose ball (77) before Nketiah’s moment of inspiration capped the victory (80).
Cedric Soares’s cut-back was slightly behind the striker but he quickly adjusted his feet to flick the ball beyond AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper Nik Tzanev using the heel of his right boot.
The victory, Arsenal’s third in a row in all competitions, ensures the Gunners maintain their momentum ahead of the north London derby against Tottenham, live on Sky Sports on Sunday.
How Arsenal cruised into round four
Mikel Arteta made 10 changes from Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Burnley on Saturday, with Thomas Partey the only player to keep his place in the side as other members of the squad were given the chance to impress.
One player who looked eager to seize his opportunity was Martinelli. The Brazilian was a menace on Arsenal’s right and used his pace to win the early penalty after latching on to Nketiah’s through-ball.
Lacazette, wearing the captain’s armband on what was his first start of the season, converted the spot kick coolly, finding the bottom corner and sending Tzanev the wrong way in the process.
Arsenal dominated possession but did not create another meaningful opening until much later in the half, when Martinelli again sprung the visitors’ offside trap, this time from a Lacazette pass, only for Tzanev to rush off his line and force him away from goal.
Tzanev almost cost his side a goal not long after that when he pushed a looping header into his own six-yard box from his goal line. The ball fell to Nketiah a few yards out, however he couldn’t force it in.
Partey enjoyed a productive run-out in midfield as he continued to build up his fitness following his return from an ankle injury, and he was next to go close when his rising drive was pushed over the bar by Tzanev shortly before the hour-mark.
That turned out to be his last contribution of the game, the Ghanaian withdrawn with Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham in mind, and his replacement, Smith Rowe, would go on to score Arsenal’s second.
Before that, Nuno Tavares, impressive at left-back for the hosts, struck the post with a downward header from a Martinelli cross.
Many of the home fans were growing frustrated at that point as their side struggled to convert their dominance into goals but Smith Rowe was soon joined on the pitch by Bukayo Saka, who combined with Lacazette to set up Smith Rowe for their second.
Nketiah then caused the Emirates Stadium to erupt in celebration for a third time with his ingenious finish and Arsenal went close to extending their lead further in the closing stages, with Saka firing narrowly wide then seeing another effort well saved by Tzanev.
By then, however, Arsenal had already done enough. Their attention now turns to Sunday’s north London derby.
Arsenal are at home to Leeds in the next round of the Carabao Cup with the fourth round ties due to be played on October 26 and 27.
Before that, the Gunners resume their Premier League campaign against north London rivals Tottenham, live on Sky Sports on Sunday.
AFC Wimbledon return to League One action with an away game against Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.