Eddie Nketiah scored his first senior hat-trick. Charlie Patino scored on his debut as the gunners sealed their place in the Carabao Cup semi-finals with a comprehensive victory against Sunderland. Nicolas Pepe also appeared on the scoresheets within the first half at the Emirates Stadium.
Mikel Arteta, Arsenal coach, made nine adjustments from their last 4 – 1 victory against Leeds United to revert to a more typical Carabao Cup line-up. Emile Smith Rowe was restored to the starting line-up, although Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remained out of the team.
Sunderland manager Lee Johnson chose a strong side, making only two changes from their last Saturday 1 – 1 draw with Ipswich, having Elliot Embleton and Lee Burge coming in.
Highlights of the Carabao Cup Quarter-Final Match Between the Gunners and the Black Cats at Emirates
Arsenal came into the match in excellent form in the competition, having scored 11 goals without conceding – and Mikel Arteta fielded a line-up that included both youth and experience.
While most of the pre-match discussion focused on including 18-year-old Charlie Patino in the matchday squad against Sunderland for the first time, the starting XI faced an immediate task.
Within five minutes, Eddie Nketiah had headed a fine cross over the bar, setting the tone for the remainder of their attacks.
The Portuguese right-back delivered another accurate delivery to Folarin Balogun at the back post. However, the striker headed wide – and saw the low shot saved moments later.
Cedric continued to charge forward into dangerous areas – and he was instrumental in their opening goal, sending in a fine corner that Rob Holding directed towards a goal. While the header was saved, Nketiah was on hand to force it over the line.
Not long afterward, the Gunners doubled their advantage, Cedric merging with Nicolas Pepe on the overlaps before cutting the ball back to the Ivorian forward in the area, where his shot flew into the roof of the net. It was an excellent way for Nicolas Pepe to commemorate his 100th appearance in colors.
At this point, it should have been straightforward, but Sunderland clawed their way back into the game with a well-executed effort that saw Nathan Broadhead battle in behind Arsenal’s defense and beat Bernd Leno.
A few minutes later, Bernd Leno had to be alert to push Carl Winchester’s goalbound effort around the post, and while Emile Smith Rowe came close at the other end, there was no further scoring before the interval.
However, four minutes into the second half, the hosts doubled their lead when Nuno Tavares found space down the flank and delivered a fine cross to the near post for Nketiah to finish his second of the evening confidently.
The visitors continued to press and came dangerously close when Elliot Embleton’s curling effort did strike outside the post.
Eddie Nketah completed his hat-trick with aplomb, backheeling home following outstanding work by Martin Odegaard and Nicolas Pepe. Charlie Patino came on as the club’s 886th player with ten minutes remaining and scored a fairytale debut goal in injury time, poking home Pepe’s cross.
Eddie Nketiah Was Named Man of the Match
While it was an incredible moment against League opponents, the night belonged to Eddie Nketiah, who walked away with the match ball, securing the Gunners’ place in the semi-finals. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sitting on the sidelines at Arsenal, Nketiah benefited from a devastating display.
The 22-year-old English player who made three instinctive finishes would undoubtedly have given Arteta pause for thinking ahead of a hectic run of matches during the holiday period. Nketiah will be hoping to have done enough to earn a re-appearance before the semi-final.
Arsenal players ratings
Arsenal 4-1-4-1 Line-Up: Eddie Nketiah (9), Martin Odegaard (8), Nicolas Pepe (8), Emile Smith Rowe (7), Cedric (7), Rob Holding (7), Nuno Tavares (7), Bernd Leno (6), Ben White (6), Mohamed Elneny (6), and Folarin Balogun (6)
Substitutes: Charlie Patino (Emile Smith Rowe 80′) (7), Granit Xhaka (Folain Balogun 56′) (6), Gabriel (Ben White 73′) N/A, and Gabriel Martinelli (Martin Odegaard 73′) N/A
Substitutes not used: Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsdale, Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, and Kieran Tierne
What’s Next for the Gunners and the Black Cats?
Arsenal will play at Norwich City on 26th December (Boxing Day in the Premier League), with kickoff scheduled at 3 p.m. Sunderland’s next game will be on Monday, 27th December in League One against Doncaster, which will be shown live on Sky Sports Football.