Arsenal 3 AFC Wimbledon 0: Smith Rowe and Nketiah on target as Gunners cruise

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Mikel Arteta’s challenge to prove him wrong went unheard as his nervous gunners tried hard enough to make the last 16.

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The Spaniard was hoping that a rare chance in the starting line-up would be enough for his shadow squad to really turn against a League One opposition.

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Lacazette scored his first goal of the season against Wimbledon on Wednesday nightcredit: Getty Images
Emil Smith Rowe also on target as Arsenal did just that

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Emil Smith Rowe also on target as Arsenal did just thatcredit: getty

But too many of them were guilty of going through the motions as they struggled to break up a spirited but limited Wimbledon team.

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And it was only in the final quarter of an hour that he really counted on his superiority to cement his place in the fourth round.

Not that Arteta will lose much sleep after a third straight win and another clean sheet ahead of Sunday’s north London derby against Spurs.

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Less than three years ago, Wimbledon knocked West Ham out of the FA Cup with the help of a certain Aaron Ramsdale in a goal.

But once again any thoughts of a giant kill were swiftly knocked out for six when Gabriel Martinelli was cleared in the field by Nesta Guinness-Walker.

Alex Lacazette, making his first start of the season, made no mistake with his tenth-minute spot kick as he sent keeper Nick Tzhnev the wrong way.


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The stand-in skipper may have added a second in the middle of the first half, but was unable to place enough headers to end Cedric’s flashy cross.

Thomas Partey, a surprising inclusion as he was building up his fitness for Sunday, was pulling all the strings in the middle of the park.

Martinelli was also impressing widely, ramping up more of the visitors’ defense and attracting a yellow card challenge from Luke McCormick.

Yet for all of Arsenal’s possession, the closest they came to adding to their tally before the break came when Tzhnev did a looping up and down against his crossbar.

And as long as their lead remained on the same target, there was always the possibility of an unexpected return to the audience staging.

Eddie Neketia scored a late goal to register the win

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Eddie Neketia scored a late goal to register the wincredit: getty
Mikel Arteta applauds Arsenal fans after Carabao Cup win

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Mikel Arteta applauds Arsenal fans after Carabao Cup wincredit: Reuters

Partey and Eddie Neketia both made sharp saves from Tzhnev as the Gunners stepped on the gas in an attempt to bed the tie.

But it wasn’t until the 77th minute that Emil Smith Rowe supplied some much-needed breathing space when he stabbed home through a crowd of defenders.

Neketia, whose future remains in the air after refusing to extend his contract that expires at the end of the season, applied the finishing touches with a graceful late backheel from Cedric’s pull back.

Yet Partey aside, it’s hard to imagine that any team from last night has done enough to make it to the starting line-up against the Spurs.

Arteta’s strongest team is starting to take shape. And most of these are not part of it.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta gave a massive boost after Thomas Partey returned to training

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