A much changed Arsenal side narrowly edged out Brentford 1-0 in the Carabao Cup third round, with Reiss Nelson grabbing an early winner.
Here are five things we learned as the Gunners progress to the fourth round…
Ramsdale still has the backing from the fans
Aaron Ramsdale was back in goal for Arsenal and his return was met with a chorus of cheers from the travelling Gunners supporters. “England’s number one” rang around the Gtech Community Stadium but the England international was rarely tested throughout the game, as Brentford’s finishing let them down, but did well when called upon. There were instances where Ramsdale looked very shaky on the ball in the first half, but a return to the starting eleven will be a welcome boost for the 25-year-old.
Hale End boys do the business
Arsenal’s Hale End academy has been lauded in recent years for the talent it has produced for the first team, and Mikel Arteta continued that trend by handing 19-year-old Charles Sagoe Jr. his first team debut. In fact, the Gunners fielded four academy graduates from the start, with Emile Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah all in from the off. Nelson was the beneficiary of a Brentford mistake to put Arteta’s side in front eight minutes in, whilst Smith Rowe, Nketiah and Sagoe Jr. all had productive outings. Encouraging signs with three games in nine days.
Changes galore but no change in Arsenal dominance
After an exciting, end-to-end north London derby, the changes were rung by Mikel Arteta with eight in total from the weekend. An early first-half goal suggested that despite so many alterations, the Gunners were just as strong with their ‘A’ team. Brentford were unlucky with numerous goal bound efforts blocked by Arsenal, but Arteta will be encouraged by the resilience and quality of the players that have not seen as much game time, with games coming thick and fast.
Need for Toney’s return increases game by game
Ivan Toney’s absence was always going to be a seismic task for Thomas Frank and Brentford to replace this summer, but the early season form of Yoane Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo garnered plenty of optimism for Bees supporters. However, whilst performances have been good in recent weeks, their over-reliance on the pair has become apparent. If they do not score, Brentford do not score. With Toney out until January and potential transfer activity surrounding his future upon his return, Frank will be hoping his front two can find their electric form again to aid in the Bees push up the table.
Fans still have League Cup appetite
The League Cup can at times be viewed as an unnecessary extra set of matches, with more being placed on players well being with ever passing season. However Brentford and Arsenal both showed the desire for silverware still shines through with the Bees playing a full strength side, and the Gunners, although making eight changes, bringing on their higher calibre of players to see the match through. A great day for League Cup enthusiasts.