Morning all.

Nicolas Pepe has to be one of the most difficult to read players Arsenal have on their books. Not for defenders though, well, not usually. But the way I’d describe him is that he makes the difficult look easy and the easy look difficult. I thought he had a good game, especially when one considers he’s not played for a while. But the star man for me was without doubt, Eddie Nketiah. A hat-trick scored, purely because he knows where the goal is and where to be in order to score them. I don’t know where his future lies but a club somewhere is going to get their hands on a very good striker. For free too!

I thought Sunderland made things difficult for Arsenal but then I thought they would. They had nothing to lose really, not being a third division club going up against a Premier League side, albeit not the strongest team Mikel Arteta could have fielded. Even so, our starting eleven was littered with international players.

I wouldn’t say we flew into a 2-0 lead but we did go ahead thanks to Eddie’s knee for the first and a second from Pepe after a lovely cutback from Cedric. Goals three and four for Eddie were classy. As said, he got himself into right place, at the right time and was clinical with his finishing. Charlie Patino, making his first team debut, had the final say on the scoreline. Pepe set him up and he buried what was a difficult finish.

Disappointingly, we conceded. A lovely finish from Nathan Broadhead,  but pretty awful defending by ourselves.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AhWTtxKJAF4

 

Considering Mikel Arteta made nine changes to the team after the win over Leeds, we did well. But, we can’t lose sight of who we played. Pepe might look good against a League One side but it doesn’t mean Arteta should rush him back into a team which is doing well in the League. The same rule applies for every other player too. As good as Nketiah was last night, he needs to play like that against Premier League teams if he wants to be a regular in the first team. It’s a catch 22 situation for him that’s for sure, because to prove he can perform well against better/stronger opposition he needs more playing time but unless he takes those chances when they do come, he’s unlikely to be a regular starter for Arsenal. With Aubameyang out of the equation though, he’s likely to get more opportunities. He has turned down the offer of a new contract but there’s still time for him to change his mind and if he heard Paul Merson talking after the game, he will.

Cedric Soares and Rob Holding had good games, Nuno Tavares too apart from one or two dodgy moments but Flo Balogun really struggled. He had a couple of good chances to get on the scoresheet but made a hash of them. He certainly needs time out on loan where he’s playing regularly at a higher level than the under 23’s. Lastly, Charlie Patino. What a night for the young man. Brilliant.

Arsenal got the job done rather well in the end. Disappointed that Sunderland resorted to a few nasty challenges when they realised they were done for. Hopefully Martinelli and ESR feel no side effects.

I quite fancy Brentford to beat Chelsea later, a semi-final at The Emirates against them would do nicely. Wins for Leicester City and West Ham would be good too.

See you in the comments.