GUNNERS BLAZING: Arsenal smash six past West Brom in Carabao Cup
PA: Nick Potts
Arsenal got their season up and running by coasting to victory in their second-round Carabao Cup tie at West Brom – with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hitting a hat-trick on his return to the side.
With pressure building on manager Mikel Arteta already after two defeats at the start of the new Premier League campaign, there was welcome relief as the Gunners smashed their hosts 6-0.
Aubameyang had been struck down by Covid on the eve of the new season, missing the loss at Brentford and coming off the bench in defeat to Chelsea.
He will not have scored many easier goals than the first-half brace he grabbed here before adding a fine third for the match ball as Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette also found the back of the net.
Saka was lively and Martin Odegaard impressed on his second debut for the club following his permanent switch from Real Madrid last week – but Arteta and his side will not be judged on such tests as this.
While the Arsenal starting XI boasted 348 senior international caps and three national captains in Aubameyang, Odegaard and Granit Xhaka – West Brom made 11 changes from their win at Blackburn, handing out five debuts with an average age of under 23.
Aaron Ramsdale made his Arsenal debut in goal and got off to a shaky start with his feet in front on an unfamiliar back four, which included Sead Kolasinac at centre-back.
He did, however, make a smart low save to keep out Tom Fellow’s low strike as the hosts started well – only to fall behind on 17 minutes.
Saka’s smart feet saw him evade a number of challenges before his low shot was pushed out into the feet of Aubameyang, who tucked home from close-range for Arsenal’s first goal of the campaign.
Odegaard should have marked his second debut with a goal but hit the post from a tight angle with the goal gaping.
The tie was wrapped up as Arsenal scored two in quick succession on the stroke of half-time.
First, Aubameyang doubled his tally for the night as he tapped home after Pepe hit the post following a fine Mohamed Elneny pass.
Then he turned provider, seeing his own shot saved before his acrobatic shot fell to Pepe who slid in to finish.
Saka got his name on the scoresheet soon after the restart, finishing with aplomb following a fine flick from Odegaard.
Lacazette opened his account for the season just four minutes into his first appearance, tucking home at the front post as Pepe claimed another assist.
That was the end of the rout as Arteta enjoyed a fine evening all round ahead of Saturday’s trip to reigning Premier League champions and Carabao Cup holders Manchester City.
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