Arsenal’s forgotten man Emile Smith Rowe sent Mikel Arteta a strong reminder of his quality as the Gunners advanced to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with a 1-0 win away to Brentford. Reiss Nelson gave the Gunners an early lead after Eddie Nketiah capitalised on a defensive mistake, before the team survived a second-half scare to advance to the next round. Arteta rang the changes and handed a debut to youngster Charles Sagoe Jr, who features as one of the talking points as Express Sport runs the rule over their victory.
Sagoe Jr makes debut
Charles Sagoe Jr, who is also capable on the left, made his first Arsenal senior start on the right wing, as Bukayo Saka was ruled out through injury. The 19-year-old appeared threatening at times and had some promising moments on what can be considered a strong debut, giving Arteta plenty of food for thought for the future.
With Saka potentially out of this weekend’s trip to Bournemouth and Arteta lacking a natural right-winger at his disposal, a promising winger such as Sagoe Jr getting plenty of minutes against a full-strength Premier League team as strong as Brentford can only be a positive – especially if he is utilised once again on the south coast.
Smith Rowe passes latest test
Smith Rowe was handed another opportunity to impress in midfield, after also featuring as a sub in the Champions League win over PSV, having played just one minute of Premier League football so far this season.
On his 100th Arsenal appearance, he was handed Martin Odegaard’s role of creator-in-chief and was one of the standout players on the pitch. He was able to fashion attacking chances for both himself and his team-mates with crafty passes and strong, direct dribbling.
He will feel that his performance has put him firmly back into Arteta’s thinking, similar to how Fabio Vieira has done in recent weeks.
Arteta gamble pays off
Arteta opted to rest stars such as Odegaard, William Saliba and Oleksandr Zinchenko despite Thomas Frank’s outfit putting out a strong side at home – certainly a gamble amid somewhat of an injury crisis as three of tonight’s starters began the north London derby.
But the team looked as capable as ever, controlling the majority of possession in what is a tricky away day against a Brentford team that Arsenal perhaps expected to be rotated more than it was – but he will be thrilled that a team consisting mainly of fringe players were able to get the win.
Havertz’ worrying form
Havertz was left out of the starting line-up for the last two league games, having struggled to live up to his price tag in the opening few months of his Gunners’ career. He hasn’t scored in his last 17 games and had an opportunity to break that duck in the first half, having been given an opportunity to smash across goal but his tame effort was blocked.
The German looks completely devoid of confidence after being unable to take another chance at getting off the mark, with more than a few attacking moments coming to an end at the hands of the former Chelsea star. He needs that first goal desperately to kickstart his career in north London.