Arsenal 5 Nottingham Forest 0
Martinelli 31, 92, Holding 71, Willock 77, Nelson 84

Five star Arsenal thrashed Nottingham Forest 5-0 at the Emirates stadium to progress to the last 16 of the Carabao Cup. Goals from Rob Holding on his return, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and a double from Gabriel Martinelli, ensured that the Gunners went in the hat for the last sixteen. Not only that, but the clean sheet will have done wonders for the confidence of the Gunners defence who have been so hit and miss of late. None of that was evident here, as marshalled by Holding, debutant Kieran Tierney, Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi impressively held firm against Forest who they last entertained twenty one years ago at Highbury. At the Emirates, Emiliano Martinez wasn’t called into action until the 70th minute when Albert Adomah threatened. Other than that, it was Arsenal who looked lively throughout. Watching on the sidelines alongside Unai Emery, his assistant and former Academy manager Freddie Ljunberg will have been happy to see graduates Willock and Nelson get on the scoresheet.

Emery will have been pleased that Martinelli grabbed his opportunity so early on in his Arsenal career. His first goal was a class act. Nelson’s cross from the left was cushioned back into the area by Chambers from deep on the right, and there was Martinelli in a throng of Forest defenders, but the Brazil midfielder was still thumped hiss header past Arijanet Muric for the opener. There then followed a sequence of Arsenal attacks, Tierney down the left, Chambers on the right with Martinelli conducting from the middle. One note of concern was when Emile Smith-Rowe was stretchered off just before the break with what appeared to be a neck injury. Fresh from his exploits in the Europa League, he was replaced by another Academy graduate Bukayo Saka.

Forest however would not be further breached and when captain for the night Mesut Ozil was replied by Dani Ceballos, the captain’s armband was given to Holding. And how well did he respond. Nelson swung over a corner and Holding met it first time to double his side’s lead. On 76 minutes and to enormous cheers, Hector Bellerin came on for Tierney. The Scotland defender did well and will only get better in the Premier League.

Chambers was now at left back, with Bellerin in his familiar right. Less than a minute after his introduction, Bellerin provided the assist for Nelson to score for 3-0. Credit must be given to Mustafi whose reverse pass deep on the right set up the move. Arsenal’s fourth was crafted with the swift passing of Ceballos and Saka, with Chambers crossing for Nelson to hit home.

Roared on by a sizeable travelling contingent, Forest could not get anywhere near to get a consolation goal. Instead, in time added on, another Martinelli highlight when the 18 year old ran at the Forest defenders before unleashing a precise shot to beat Muric for a 5-0 scoreline.

Job done, and if Emery ever needed to appreciate the depth he has in his squad, and actually how to defend for all eventualities, then this was it. Martinez has now kept two clean sheets in his last two outings. Perhaps he deserves a chance to replace Bernd Leno now? Either way, there is healthy competition in the line up, and with what are effectively three new defenders in Bellerin, Holding and Tierney, with a big nod in the direction of Chambers, Emery will welcome the selection headache.

Arsenal are next in Premier League action in the Monday night football game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.