EFL Reporter @simgholam
Arsenal 5-0 Nottingham Forest: Kieran Tierney makes debut and Rob Holding strikes in Gunners cruise
Highlights and report from the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal beat Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup third round
Last Updated: 25/09/19 6:11am
Kieran Tierney made his debut for Arsenal and young striker Gabriel Martinelli scored twice as they thumped Nottingham Forest 5-0 in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
Martinelli opened the scoring on his starting debut for the club in the first half, and Rob Holding headed home a second after the break before late strikes from Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson. Martinelli then added his second in stoppage time.
Forest shocked Arsenal in the FA Cup when the met in the third round at the start of 2018, but there would be no surprise result on their first-ever trip to the Emirates Stadium.
- Kieran Tierney was handed his Arsenal debut and Rob Holding made his first appearance since December as he returned from injury. Hector Bellerin started on the bench as Unai Emery made 11 changes.
- Ari Muric, the Manchester City loanee, started in goal for Nottingham Forest, while Lewis Grabban was on the bench.
How Arsenal cruised into the fourth round
Forest have one of the best defensive records in the Championship this season - only two sides have conceded fewer goals - and it proved a tough task for Arsenal to break them down in the early stages.
In the end it took a wonderful, lightning-quick move after 31 minutes for them to find the breakthrough, as Nelson found Calum Chambers out on the right and his first-time volleyed cross was met by the 18-year-old Martinelli with a firm header, leaving Manchester City loanee Ari Muric with no chance in goal.
One concern for Arsenal will be the injury suffered by Emile Smith Rowe, who was forced off just before the break on a stretcher after suffering in an aerial collision when forcing a fine save out of Muric with a header.
His replacement, Bukayo Saka, created their first big chance of the second half on 67 minutes as his jinking run and cross found Willock at the back stick, but he somehow managed to head wide from just a couple of yards.
Arsenal: Martinez (6), Chambers (8), Holding (7), Mustafi (7), Tierney (7), Torreira (7), Willock (7), Nelson (7), Ozil (6), Smith Rowe (6), Martinelli (8)
Subs: Ceballos (n/a), Saka (7), Bellerin (6)
Nottingham Forest: Muric (5), Cash (4), Figueiredo (5), Robinson (5), Ribeiro (6), Chema (5), Silva (5), Johnson (), Carvalho (5), Lolley (4), Adomah (4)
Subs: Ameobi (n/a), Gabriel (n/a), Mighten (n/a)
Man of the match: Calum Chambers
Four minutes later, however, Arsenal would have the second that opened the floodgates. Holding was the man who got it as he capped his return to the side, rising to meet a Nelson corner and powering a header home.
And there was yet more positive news to come for Arsenal as Hector Bellerin made his return to the side as a late substitute for Tierney, and within a minute of his arrival he created their third, squaring for Willock to turn the ball in from close range.
Nelson, who enjoyed a fine night himself, then added their fourth as he turned home another impressive Chambers ball in after 84 minutes, and Martinelli's heavily-deflected effort from the edge of the area in added time put the icing on the cake for Arsenal.
How did Tierney, Holding and Bellerin do?
Rarely tested in a defensive sense, Tierney instead proved what an impressive attacking talent he was throughout the first half as he regularly beat his man down the left side before putting in brilliant cross after brilliant cross.
Within a minute he had done just that, and continued to do so as he created fine chances for Willock and Smith Rowe before the break.
Holding, meanwhile, also faced little attacking threat from Forest but provided an assured presence at the back throughout, and showed his aerial prowess with a well-taken header from a corner in the second half.
The capping of a fine night for Arsenal was the return of Bellerin, who was introduced as a second-half substitute for Tierney and immediately assisted their third.
There will be far sterner challenges ahead but there is little doubting that Arsenal look a more formidable outfit with these three at the back.
Emery's verdict on returning trio
"It was a good opportunity for the players to get minutes to come back after injuries," said Arsenal boss Unai Emery. "It was a good game, a clean sheet and there were a lot of positive things that we can be positive about, with the different options we have for the matches coming up.
"It is great to have more options at centre-back. Holding has been positive [throughout his injury] and he has helped us in training throughout. He will take huge confidence from tonight. He will be happy and we are happy for him.
"Hector's attitude has also been big for us. He assisted Willock and it is very important to have him as an option. He wanted to play 90 but we decided to give him less minutes than the others."
Man of the Match: Calum Chambers
Chambers put in the kind of display that made you wonder why he hasn't started in the Premier League since the opening day of the season. His brilliant cross from the right provided the opener for Arsenal, and he then created two more after shifting over to left-back late in the second half. His composure in defensive situations also would have done the Gunners no harm in recent weeks.
Both sides are back in action live on Sky Sports over the weekend. On Friday night Nottingham Forest head to Stoke in the Championship, live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm.
Arsenal then visit Manchester United on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm.