In Review

Youthful Gunners raise Wenger's hopes as Arsenal defeat Forest

A young Arsenal side put in an impressive display last night, overwhelming Forest in the EFL Cup

Nottingham Forest 0 Arsenal 4

There will be harder matches for Arsenal this season – such as Saturday's Premier League clash with Chelsea – but Arsene Wenger nonetheless had numerous reasons to be cheerful after his side thrashed Nottingham Forest last night in the EFL Cup.

The Arsenal manager fielded a callow team against the Championship club and his reward for trusting in youth was an impressive display from the likes of Chuba Akpom, Reine-Adelaide and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. So easy was the victory that Wenger was able to introduce a couple of 18-year-olds late on, Chris Willock and Krystian Bielik, for their first senior appearances in an Arsenal shirt.

"It was a good team performance played at a very high pace," Wenger said. "We played a very quick technical game and we went always forward and tried to score goals. We played the game well out from the back. Overall it's a performance that deserves great credit and I would like to congratulate the players tonight."

It's 17 years since Arsenal and Nottingham Forest last clashed, during which time the Midlands side have lost touch with the Premier League. The last time Forest – European Cup winners in 1979 and 1980 – played in the top flight was 1998-99, and it showed against the Gunners.

New signing Granit Xhaka opened the scoring on 23 minutes with a thunderous 30-yard drive that Forest keeper Vladimir Stojkovic could only flap into the net. It was Xhaka's second goal in four days for Arsenal and further underlined the reason Wenger paid £35m to sign the Swiss from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer.

It was another new face at the Emirates who put the tie beyond doubt in the second half, when Lucas Perez scored from the penalty spot on the hour mark, after Michael Mancienne had fouled Chuba Akpom.

Ten minutes later Perez made it 3-0 and the last word went to one of Arsenal's old boys, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who fired home in stoppage time. Asked for his thoughts on Perez, Wenger replied: "The second goal has technical quality and desire, determination and fighting spirit. I liked the second goal for that and I liked as well the goal he made for Oxlade-Chamberlain."

But what pleased the Frenchman most was the team display and the fact that some of the young Gunners will soon be challenging for a place in the first team. "The performance tonight shows that the players who played at Hull need to be on their toes and that's what we want - competition for places," said Wenger.

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