Arsenal thrashed a much-changed West Brom side 6-0 to book their place in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
With Mikel Arteta’s side without a win, or a goal, this season, the under pressure Spaniard decided to name a very strong side, with Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all in the XI.
Their quality would shine through as well, as they produced a devastating attacking display to hammer Valerien Ismael’s men, which didn’t include any individual who played in the weekend win at Blackburn Rovers, and had six debutants.
Despite the difference in the two teams in terms of cost and experience, Albion would start well, with the young XI showing the same energy and intensity out of possession that has been the standout aspect of Ismael’s reign so far.
Tom Fellows forced new £24m Arsenal signing Aaron Ramsdale into a decent save, with Adam Reach hitting wide from the resulting well-worked corner as the Baggies pushed for the opener.
Even though Albion started positively, the Gunners always looked a threat with Ødegaard, Saka and Aubameyang in particular, and the latter two would be involved in the first goal of the game in the 17th minute.
It was primarily down to the England international, who wriggled past a few weak challenges before firing at goal, with Alex Palmer only able to push out to Aubameyang who tapped in from close range.
The Baggies were fortunate not to fall two behind minutes later, as Ødegaard hit the post after more good work from Saka had caused disruption in the box.
Ismael’s youngsters struggled to keep up the relentless pressing that they began with, as Arsenal controlled the game, and the Londoners would punish them emphatically just before the break.
A flick from Ødegaard would somewhat fortuitously find its way to Mohamed Elneny and he fed Nicolas Pepe through with a nice ball. Surprisingly, the winger could only hit the post when facing down on goal, but Aubameyang was on hand again to get his second in the 45th minute.
With five minutes of time added on, Albion couldn’t keep it at two before heading to the dressing room, with an excellent bit of play from Arteta’s men effectively ending the tie.
Once again, Saka was the catalyst, as his quick feet saw him beat the press and his through ball put Aubameyang through on goal for his hat-trick. Palmer would save well from the ex-Borussia Dortmund man but the striker retrieved the ball and put it across to Pepe who couldn’t miss from a few yards out.
The half-time score was harsh on Albion considering the way they began but Arsenal’s class had told and they ruthlessly exposed the high line that the hosts played with thanks to some quick, incisive play.
The second half would begin as the first ended, with the visitors in control and the attacking trio continuing to cause real problems for Albion.
And, they would wait just five minutes before getting a fourth, with Saka and Ødegaard combining brilliantly again. After surging forward, Saka played into the feet of the Norwegian who returned the ball with a classy flick to set the wide man in on goal and he struck powerfully past Palmer before celebrating in front of the packed away end.
Albion would rally, with Kenneth Zohore and Taylor Gardner-Hickman forcing Ramsdale into smart saves where they will feel they should’ve done better but that was brief respite before more waves of Arsenal attacks.
Aubameyang would get his hat-trick with his best goal of the night, as he cut in from the left after a pass from former Baggies loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who came on as a sub, before curling beautifully into the top corner.
When Alexandre Lacazette replaced Granit Xhaka in the 67th minute, you felt more goals were imminent and the Frenchman struck with one of his first touches after a cool finish from Pepe’s pull-back. He should’ve added another later on too, as Arsenal continued to control proceedings.
Ultimately, Arsenal would finish at six and it was the scoreline that many West Brom fans would’ve feared when the team news came out, with the experienced Premier League side simply far too good on the night.
Full time: West Brom 0-6 Arsenal