Belfast Telegraph

Granit Xhaka cracker gets ball rolling as Wenger hails impact of Arsenal new-boy Perez

EFL Cup: Nottingham Forest 0-4 Arsenal

By Sean Taylor

Arsenal will be hoping their 4-0 victory against Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup is a good omen.

The Gunners' only two League Cup triumphs in 1987 and 1993 each featured wins over the Reds and Granit Xhaka's strike and a Lucas Perez double set the ball rolling for history to perhaps repeat itself.

Xhaka produced a carbon copy of his stunning long-range goal against Hull to give Arsenal, showing 11 changes from Saturday, the lead midway through the first half and Perez's penalty after an hour extended the advantage.

Perez then put the tie beyond doubt with another goal 11 minutes later, ensuring there would be no Forest win to mark the 12th anniversary of Brian Clough's death, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain completed the scoring in stoppage time.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger hopes that Perez's two goals will prove to his critics that he has what it takes to succeed after a difficult start to life in the Premier League.

Wenger said: "As a striker he is always growing in confidence. I liked his second goal. It was not only technique, it was determination to fight for the ball. I liked as well his pass to Oxlade-Chamberlain which showed he can combine with other people and his intelligent play.

"The only thing is he uses his left foot too much. He doesn't use his right enough. He is like the other left-footed players."

Arsenal almost gifted their hosts an early lead when a defensive mistake allowed Ben Osborn to retrieve possession.

Nicklas Bendtner, making his first start for Forest against the club with whom he spent nine years, set up Pajtim Kasami with a low cross into the penalty area but he rolled his shot agonisingly wide, with goalkeeper Damian Martinez well beaten diving the opposite way.

Bendtner then showed both sides of the character which has typified his career by catching Xhaka with a late foul and receiving a needless yellow card, before almost scoring his first Forest goal by flashing a fierce right-footed shot narrowly wide.

Xhaka scored his first Arsenal goal at Hull with a superb 30-yard strike into the top corner of the net and the summer signing from Borussia Monchengladbach repeated the feat after 23 minutes.

Stojkovic looked to get a strong hand to the shot but merely took the pace off the ball and it nestled in the back of the net.

It was 2-0 when Akpom went down under a challenge from former Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne, with Perez tucking away the resulting spot kick before adding the third.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph