Arsenal opened their campaign in the Carabao Cup with a nervy 1-0 win over Doncaster Rovers to progress to the fourth round on Wednesday
Arsenal produced a scrappy performance in their third-round meeting in the Carabao Cup with Doncaster Rovers at Emirates on Wednesday, beating the League One side by a slim 1-0 margin to set up a fourth round date with Norwich City.
Surprisingly, it was the visitors who started the match on the front foot as Rodney Kongolo tested David Ospina with a driving effort in the very first minute. But, Arsenal took control of the proceedings after that moment, starting with Olivier Giroud hitting the crossbar three minutes later.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) September 20, 2017
The deadlock was finally broken in the 25th minute, when Theo Walcott latched on to Alexis Sanchez’s long pass to loft the ball over Ian Lawlor. Thereafter, Arsenal continued to assert their dominance in the match, creating the bulk of the chances, without any end product.
Darren Ferguson’s men, on the other hand, provided some dogged resistance for large parts of the match as the Arsenal faithful at the Emirates were made to sweat over the slim margin of the scoreline. Nevertheless, the Gunners progressed to the fourth round after a tense finish, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Arsene Wenger’s men.
David Ospina: 7/10
It was a quiet night for Ospina in the Arsenal goal as the game was largely played in the Doncaster half, particularly in the first half. The opening minute save was, thus, the only major piece of action that the Colombian shot stopper saw in the first 45 minutes.
— David Ospina (@D_Ospina1) September 20, 2017
Ospina had to be on his guard a lot more in the second half though, as the game opened up slightly. But just like the first half, a save off Matty Blair’s header that kept his clean sheet intact was the only time when he needed to be particularly alert.
Calum Chambers: 6/10
A first start for Arsenal for well over a year, Chambers turned in a confident performance before being substituted at half-time. Confident on the ball and composed off it, the Englishman’s outing should give Arsene Wenger something to think about when considering his options at the back.
The Gunners, in fact, looked vulnerable and open after he was replaced, making his substitution slightly suspect. Arsenal fans would, thus, be hoping that it wasn’t due to an injury, because the former Southampton man can potentially be a vital cog in cup competitions, and Europe.
Per Mertesacker: 7/10
— Per Mertesacker (@mertesacker) September 20, 2017
The experienced head in a very young Arsenal side. Although he had very little to do on the night, Mertesacker used every bit of his experience to marshall the defence expertly throughout the night and keep the threat of any Doncaster attack at bay.
Expected to play alongside the younger defenders in the cup competitions and the early stages of the Europa League, the veteran German’s experience will be invaluable over the course of the campaign in what is his last season in competitive football.
Rob Holding: 6/10
Wednesday was not one of his better outings, as Holding often looked short of confidence, particularly on the ball as he sprayed a few passes off the mark. Off the ball though, Holding showcased his qualities well, and he will only improve with more experience under his belt.
Reiss Nelson: 5/10
Thursday: Reiss Nelson makes his European debut for Arsenal.
Wednesday: Reiss Nelson makes his full debut for Arsenal.
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) September 20, 2017
Not the kind of full debut that the youngster would have hoped to have enjoyed. In an unfamiliar role as a wing-back, he looked a tad uncertain about his positioning as he often left space to be exploited. Going forward he was wasteful with his passing at times.
On top of all that, he was lucky to have not given a goal away in the second half as he misjudged the bounce of the ball. However, as the game wore on, he became more certain about his position and grew into the game. Room for improvement for the youngster, but he’ll only improving with each passing game.
Jack Wilshere: 9/10
The brightest spark for Arsenal on an otherwise underwhelming night for the side. Wilshere was making his first start for Arsenal in 493 days, but he looked at home in the starting eleven, dictating the tempo of the game with ease while also taking charge of the creative side of the game with his distribution.
Jack Wilshere has played 90 minutes for Arsenal for the first time in 1093 days.
Long time coming. 🔴 pic.twitter.com/XZQBhH44hG
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 20, 2017
The fabled Wengerball style of play is all the more apparent when the talented Englishman is on the pitch for the Gunners. Arsenal fans would now be hoping that the classy Wilshere manages to stay fit and stakes a claim for more regular inclusion as the season wears on.
Mohamed Elneny: 6/10
Unspectacular but effective, Elneny did whatever was asked of him on the night, as has been the case with him throughout his spell at Arsenal. He did give away the ball easily at times though, while also being caught out of position, but the Egyptian is a nice option to have in reserves for Wenger.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 7/10
Another player who was played out of position by Arsene Wenger. However, Maitland-Niles grew accustomed to his own wing-back slot better than his fellow academy youngster. His understanding and link up with Alexis Sanchez was impressive as the duo took charge of the left flank.
Covered the ground well on two occasions to deny Burton a sniff at an equaliser. But, he, too, looked uncertain at times about his positioning in an unfamiliar position. All in all though, it was a solid outing for the youngster who will also improve with games under his belt.
Theo Walcott: 7/10
One of the most lamented figures among the Arsenal fanbase for his inability to fulfill his potential, Wednesday night’s outing was nothing different for Walcott. Although he did score a well taken goal, collecting Alexis Sanchez’s pass smartly before lofting the ball over Ian Lawlor, he was otherwise sub-par.
Theo Walcott has now scored 8 goals in his last 8 games in domestic cup competitions for Arsenal.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 20, 2017
In particular, his touch was poor, and he was very wasteful in possession. Additionally, he was guilty of missing several good chances as well to double his tally, fading away with his influence as the game wore on. Another player who is a decent option in reserves.
Alexis Sanchez: 7/10
A surprise inclusion for a match that was supposed to be a straightforward outing for Arsenal, Sanchez was the personification of the gulf in class between the two sides. However, as has been the case with him all too often, he was guilty of trying far too much, while also slowing down the play at time.
But, he did provide the all-important final ball for the only goal of the match, while also providing the spark that could have seen Arsenal double their tally. His demeanour though, could do with a bit of improvement, although it’s high time Sanchez was started in the more important league games.
Olivier Giroud: 6/10
Still one goal away from his 100th for Arsenal, the over-urgency in latching at the chances showed in Giroud’s game on the night, although he was unlucky to miss out on what would have been an early contender for the goal of the season. His touch, too, was a little loose, and it goes without saying that the Frenchman has seen better days.