Arsenal destroyed a young West Bromwich Albion side 6-0 in the second round of the Carabao Cup, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring a hat-trick.
The Gambian forward opened the scoring in the 17th minute before tapping in a second on the stroke of half-time.
Aubameyang then missed a one-on-one in added time of the first half, but he managed to redirect his rebound into the path of Nicolas Pepe to tap in from close range.
The floodgates opened in the second half with Bukayo Saka (50’), Aubameyang (63’) and Alexandre Lacazette (69’) rounding off a professional performance.
The Gunners are without a win in the Premier League after two games, against Brentford and Chelsea, and manager Mikel Arteta has come under fire for those defeats. Here are three things Arteta got right in the win.
Arteta wasn’t to know that West Brom were going to line up with a squad made up of mainly under-23’s, but that doesn’t matter. He knew that Wednesday night was the perfect opportunity to gain a bit of momentum and give his side a much-needed lift.
By starting the likes of Aubameyang, Pepe and summer signing Martin Odegaard, he gave his players the chance to play with confidence. He knew that even if his side played poorly, there was enough raw talent on the pitch to win the game. Giving his forwards the chance to open their accounts for the season cannot be understated either.
Many managers use the cup clashes against lesser opposition as a chance to rest the ‘big guns’, but the Spanish manager knew how low the morale would have been in the changing room after losing their two opening games of the Premier League season. And he knew how important it was for his side to win comfortably, which they did.
'Over the top' tactics
The Gunners’ best chances on Wednesday evening came from either driving runs from Saka, or balls over the top. The inexperienced Baggies defence were petrified by Aubameyang’s acceleration and couldn’t catch him out with their high line.
Arteta clearly did his research, he knew that Valerien Ismael’s side would play a high line and that he needed to play a speedy front three to burn past them. Playing someone like Folarin Balogun up top over Aubameyang wouldn’t have provided the same presence, nor someone like Eddie Nketiah if he was fit.
There was acres of space between the West Brom’s defence and goalkeeper, and every time the two holding midfielders of Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny had time and space they tried to play it into it. Those young Baggies defenders will not forget their evening of racing after Aubameyang and Pepe whilst they bear down on goal.
When Nuno Tavares came off of the bench against Brentford to replace Calum Chambers, he didn’t look the player that Gunners fans would have hoped he was. However, played in his favoured left-back position, the Portuguese defender thrived.
The 21-year-old was given the licence to roam against the Championship opposition, meaning he was heavily involved in plenty of attacks. Although shaky at times, he linked up well with Saka and Odegaard and showed he was willing to race back to defend on the rare occasions that West Brom got forward.
Arteta will have learnt plenty about the former Benfica man by allowing him to play 90 minutes with the first-team regulars. It also gives him food for thought: use Kieran Tierney as a left-sided centre back and play a back three? The acquisition of Ben White, who played on the right of a three for Brighton last season, makes it very possible.
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