Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Not Just Young Guns Seizing Cup Chance as Perez and Xhaka Flex Their Muscles

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Not Just Young Guns Seizing Cup Chance as Perez and Xhaka Flex Their Muscles

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley Chief Football Correspondent

NOTT'M FOREST 0 ARSENAL 4 THIS competition has habitually been the testing ground for Arsenal's next generation but Arsene Wenger will have been most encouraged by the displays of the senior players he selected against Nottingham Forest.

The kids were all right. Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Chuba Akpom and Ainsley Maitland-Niles produced promising performances suggesting they could, in time, graduate for the Gunners beyond the EFL Cup.

But given there is no certainty Wenger will remain at Arsenal beyond the end of this season, his need is more immediate so therefore it will please him no end that Granit Xhaka and Lucas Perez took another step forward in acclimatising to the English game.

This was an old-fashioned cup tie at a famous old ground.

Emboldened by the desire of Nicklas Bendtner and Henri Lansbury to thrive against their former employers and the emotional nod to history through a heartfelt round of applause in the 12th minute to mark a dozen years since Brian Clough passed away, Forest threatened to make this a real test.

But Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny helped protect a back four that almost contrived to gift an opening goal to their Championship opponents.

The Swiss international then produced what could quickly become his trademark, alongside the almost mandatory yellow card: a 35-yard piledriver which, although aided by a deflection and poor goalkeeping, will fall into the 'Xhaka bomb' category he created with a wonderful strike at Hull last weekend.

It was a moment of quality which stopped Forest in their tracks and Arsenal produced another just as the home side threatened to mount a comeback after the interval.

Akpom's darting run into the box was stopped abruptly by Michael Mancienne and Perez stepped up to emphatically convert the spot-kick.

The PS17million arrival from Deportivo La Coruna has had an inauspicious start to his Arsenal career but his second goal typified Wenger's assertion that he is an approximation of a Spanish Jamie Vardy, showing both power and pace to navigate a way through Forest's defence to double his tally. …

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