Hat-trick hero Nketiah continues red-hot cup form but Balogun fails to shine

ARSENAL swept third-tier Sunderland aside to book their place in the League Cup semi-finals in style.

Boss Mikel Arteta made nine changes to the side that beat Leeds 4-1 on Saturday, awarding opportunities to many of his fringe players.

Eddie Nketiah backheels home his third

Eddie Nketiah backheels home his thirdCredit: Reuters

Things looked comfortable when Nicolas Pepe doubled Arsenal‘s lead, after Eddie Nketiah had kneed his side into the lead.

Nathan Broadhead’s clipped finish momentarily made things interesting – before two more smart finishes by hat-trick hero Nketiah put the tie to bed.

Charlie Patino then marked a dream debut with a goal in stoppage time to add some further gloss to the win.

Here’s how SunSport’s Etienne Fermie rated each Gunners performer.


Beaten by a smart clipped finish by Black Cats striker Broadhead. Had to be alert to deny the visitors a quickfire equaliser.

Was hardly tested after the Gunners took control of the tie in the second-half.

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Full-back’s corner helped set up Arsenal’s opening goal. He then created two presentable chances for Folarin Balogun in the first-half.

Creative back-up to Takehiro Tomiyasu then laid it on a plate for Nicolas Pepe to make it 2-0 with a smart cut-back.

The former Southampton ace caused havoc with a series of excellent deliveries.

Cedric Soares was a regular threat down the right flank

Cedric Soares was a regular threat down the right flankCredit: AP


Caught out by a pass in behind for Broadhead’s goal.

One of the two survivors from Saturday’s lineup, England international White was mostly adequate when required.


Was denied by a superb save early on before Nketiah kneed home the rebound.

Stand-in skipper didn’t put a foot wrong on his return to the starting XI.


Caused cries of glee from the sizeable contingent of travelling supporters when he passed the ball straight out of play in the opening exchanges. Saw his cross deflected onto the crossbar moments later.

Perfect pull-back set up Nketiah’s second early in the second-half.

Summer signing grew into the game and loves getting forward, although he’ll be disappointed that he blasted a late chance over the bar.

Nuno Tavares enjoyed getting forward down the left

Nuno Tavares enjoyed getting forward down the leftCredit: AFP


Breathed a sigh of relief when the referee waved play on after he brushed Sunderland forward Ross Stewart in the penalty area early on.

Egyptian looked more comfortable when Granit Xhaka was introduced alongside him early in the second period.


Played Pepe in behind in the build-up to Arsenal’s fourth goal with a brilliant through ball.

Should have done better when teed up by the winger, but the Norwegian was typically creative, threading a number of good passes to his fellow attackers and making his side tick.


Stung Burge’s palms with a wonderfully struck volley from the edge of the box on the stroke of half-time.

The Gunners’ No10 can expect to return to Arteta’s Premier League starting XI in the near future.

Recent super-sub Smith Rowe was back among the starters tonight

Recent super-sub Smith Rowe was back among the starters tonightCredit: AFP


Ivorian showed typical trickery on the right flank, and put his side 2-0 up with a deflected finish from close range.

Often lacked end product with his final ball, however, drawing groans from the crowd as he hopelessly overhit a cross in the 40th minute. Was very unlucky not to be awarded a penalty moments later when he appeared to be bundled over.

Produced a sensational nutmeg on Denver Hume before teeing up Nketiah’s third. Was then cynically fouled by the left-back when racing into space on the counter.

Tormented the Sunderland substitute, easily beating him again before laying off to Odegaard, assisting another in stoppage time for Patino.

Nicolas Pepe fires Arsenal into a two-goal lead

Nicolas Pepe fires Arsenal into a two-goal leadCredit: AFP


Bundled Arsenal into the lead with his knee after a Holding header was saved.

Produced an instinctive, flicked finish to put Arsenal 3-1 up, before executing a brilliant backheel to seal his hat-trick… and his side’s place in the semi-final.

Had a penalty claim waved away late on, but made it five goals in three League Cup outings this season regardless.

Eddie Nketiah celebrates his Arsenal opener

Eddie Nketiah celebrates his Arsenal openerCredit: PA


Scuffed a sitter of a header after being set up by Soares, before striking straight at Burge when he may have done better.

Youngster was booked for a late challenge on Black Cats skipper Bailey Wright. Teenager is clearly talented but desperately needs a loan spell to gain some first team rhythm and experience.


Granit Xhaka (for Balogun, 56) – 6

Introduction of the Swiss midfielder saw Arsenal gain full control of the midfield.

Gabriel (for White, 74) – 6

Brazilian did nothing wrong after coming on.

Gabriel Martinelli (for Odegaard, 74) – 6

Took a clattering from Wright just moments after coming on after beating the Sunderland skipper.

Charlie Patino (for Smith Rowe, 80) – 7

Teenager’s introduction drew the loudest cheer of the night from the Emirates crowd, and he got an even louder one when he capped a dream debut with a goal in stoppage time.

Subs not used: Ramsdale, Tierney, Partey, Saka, Lacazette

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