Arsenal booked their place in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup after smashing five goals past League One side Sunderland at the Emirates.

Arsenal put Sunderland to the sword after smashing five goals past the Black Cats. The victory at the Emirates ensured a semi-finals berth for the Gunners in the EFL Cup. Their opponents are set to be decided after Wednesday’s fixtures.

Arsenal made nine changes to the starting lineup from the one that started against Leeds United, with only Martin Odegaard and Ben White retaining their spots. Eddie Nketiah opened the scoring from close range after Rob Holding kept the ball in from a corner. Soon after, Nicolas Pepe found the back of the net after some nice combination play with Cedric Soares.

Pepe and Nketiah were particularly lethal in the game and sprung to life in the second half when the tie was still in the balance. In the first half, Nathan Broadhead had pulled one back when Sunderland had a sustained period of pressure on the Arsenal defence.

However, Arsenal came out of the blocks quickly in the second half as Nketiah doubled his tally in the 49th minute after brilliant work from Nuno Tavares, finishing yet again from close range. The striker then got his first-ever hat-trick for the Gunners with a top-notch finish after Pepe made the goal for him.

Charlie Patino was afforded his debut when the game was already won. The young midfielder had an unforgettable time on the pitch as he scored a goal after more impressive work from Pepe on the right-hand channel, laying it on a platter for the midfielder to direct his shot on target. Here’s how the Arsenal players fared during their 5-1 win over Sunderland at the Emirates.

Bernd Leno: 6/10

A shortage of confidence and a lack of match sharpness was understandable after losing his no.1 spot to Aaron Ramsdale this term. Despite making some good saves, much of the blame for allowing Sunderland to get some shots away lies with the Arsenal defence than Leno.

Cedric Soares: 6/10

Cedric was also shorn of confidence in a case similar to Leno. And the Portuguese defender did not have a particular way of playing. While he was still of good value in the final third and notched an assist, his defensive output left a lot to be desired after some sloppy play at the back.

Rob Holding: 6.5/10

Holding was among three of five players in the backline with a shortage of regular game time. He did some good work in the box, especially when Sunderland’s surprising period of pressure could have yielded more goals. Holding was also crucial in the build-up to the first Arsenal goal, helping Nketiah from the corner.

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Ben White: 7/10

White struggled somewhat without his usual defence partners but did put in a decent shift to keep the goals scored by Sunderland down to a bare minimum. His ball carrying effort and ability to break the lines are still underrated, as he was the man to do so repeatedly for Arsenal.

Nuno Tavares: 7.5/10

Tavares was a big threat for the Sunderland defenders from the left flank, as he found himself decent space to operate higher up the pitch. The youngster did good work in the build-up to the third goal after beating his man and laying a good square pass for Nketiah.

Mohamed Elneny: 7/10

Elneny was composed at the base of the midfield unit. The Egyptian international has never been a great forward passer; hence, he stuck to his task of keeping things tight in the middle of the park with some decent distribution around him.

Martin Odegaard: 7.5/10

Odegaard asserted his control on the proceedings with some silky attacking play. He was the creative hub for Arsenal, opening up opportunities for his teammates to exploit.

Emile Smith Rowe: 6/10

Smith Rowe lacked some sharpness in his game, as he was unusually sloppy after giving the ball away so many times, although he was still somewhat effective. The idea would have been to give him some minutes from the start after being on the bench in the last three games.

Nicolas Pepe: 8/10

Despite his evident quality and game-changing ability, Pepe remains a frustrating player. While he was sharp in attacking moves, he gave the ball away more than necessary in the defensive third. However, the Ivorian aided his cause to play more in the Premier League, finishing the night with a goal and two assists, including the one for Charlie Patino.

Folarin Balogun: 6/10

After getting minutes under his belt with the senior squad, a decent outing might be the best way to describe Balogun’s evening. He still has much to learn and will probably be disappointed at being substituted after just 55 minutes on the pitch.

Eddie Nketiah: 9/10

Nketiah scored a brilliant hat trick on Wednesday, his first with Arsenal. After the game, Arteta said Nketiah’s ability inside the box is why he rates the player and wants to keep him at the club. There certainly will be interest in the forward if suitors saw his close-range finishes against Sunderland.


Granit Xhaka: 7.5/10

A solid introduction as Sunderland’s pressure ended prematurely following the Swiss midfielder’s arrival. Xhaka asserted total control on the proceedings and kept things ticking in midfield.

Gabriel Magalhaes: 7/10

Arteta manoeuvred the central defensive area in the absence of Calum Chambers by having Ben White and Gabriel share minutes. And the Brazilian did a decent job after coming on.

Gabriel Martinelli: 6/10

Arteta might have wanted to keep Martinelli’s momentum going as a goal, or an assist might have boosted his confidence even more. However, the Brazilian ended up being fouled relentlessly after coming on.

Charlie Patino: 7/10

After the game, Patino became the biggest talking point as praise kept pouring in following his goalscoring debut. It should do his confidence a world of good, and he will now look forward to more minutes with the first team, especially in cup ties.

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