MIkel Arteta previews AFC Wimbledon clash
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has a new undroppable after seeing his side battle to a third round Carabao Cup victory over Wimbledon on Wednesday night. The Gunners made hard work of the match but eventually ran out 3-0 winners.
After taking the lead in the 11th minute courtesy of an Alexandre Lacazette penalty, Arteta’s side looked like they would race to a routine victory.
But the hosts struggled to assert their dominance on the match in the first half and were frustrated by Wimbledon for long spells of the game.
Wimbledon came back after the break and looked to force an equaliser as they pushed forward in an open encounter.
They looked threatening going forward but took chances at the back as they looked to stay in the competition.
And Arsenal eventually punished the tiring visitors courtesy of late goals from Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah.
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One man who stood out for the north Londoners on the night was Gabriel Martinelli, who could well now be undroppable for Arteta.
The 20-year-old was Arsenal’s standout player throughout the match as he looked to attack the Wimbledon backline and make things happen.
It was Martinelli who drew the foul for his side’s early penalty as Arsenal started well.
The Brazilian ran at the visiting defence time and time again as he looked to penetrate the Wimbledon backline and fire his side into the next round.
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He delivered crosses and created chances for team-mates, and he proved a menace throughout.
After running himself into the ground, Martinelli was eventually replaced by England international Saka with 16 minutes of the match remaining.
Arsenal eventually bagged their second goal of the evening as fellow substitute Smith Rowe struck from inside the penalty area in the 77th minute.
And they wrapped up the victory three minutes later as Nketiah added a third.
Martinelli joined the Gunners from Brazilian side Ituano two years ago and has gone on to score 12 goals in 51 games for the club.
He came to prominence at the Emirates during the 2019/20 season after impressing off the bench and was soon named in Arteta’s starting line-up.
But he suffered hamstring and knee injuries in the latter stages of the season and missed the final games of the campaign.
The winger didn’t return to action until midway through last season and was only used sporadically in the second half of the season.
He started the opening two Premier League games of this season and must surely now be given another chance to strut his stuff on the big stage.
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