Arsenal secured safe passage to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with a 1-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers at the Emirates.
Theo Walcott, assisted by Alexis, gave the Gunners the lead on 25 minutes in a half of home side domination. The visitors were more of an attacking threat after the break but couldn’t find an equaliser despite several late chances.
To say the Gunners mounted an onslaught in the early stages doesn’t really do justice to the home side’s domination. After a sighter from the visitors inside the opening 60 seconds, calmly dealt with by Ospina, Wenger’s mix-and-match XI laid siege to the Doncaster goal.
Inside three minutes Walcott was denied at close quarters by keeper Lawlor, Giroud had a stonewall penalty claim turned down and Alexis tried a cheeky chip that fell just wide.
With Wilshere the metronome in the centre of the park, the chances kept coming. Giroud struck the bar with an acrobatic volley from a delicate dinked pass by the England international and headed over an Elneny cross.
Alternate angle of Giroud's spectacular bicycle kick pic.twitter.com/OWlqW10wGQ
— Terje (@ArsenalTerje) September 20, 2017
Next Alexis fired a free-kick from 30-yards that needed stopping before several teasing crosses tickled along the six-yard box from Maitland-Niles’ left flank.
Finally, on 23 minutes, the Gunners took the lead. Alexis picking the ball up deep in midfield, looked up and delivered a delightful ball over the top for Walcott who controlled neatly and clipped the ball over the keeper. (1-0)
Walcott gives Arsenal the lead against Doncaster pic.twitter.com/M6ifU8dk5e
— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) September 20, 2017
Arsenal took their foot off the gas after the opener and aside from the odd jinking run by Alexis and an effort by Nelson there was little to get the Emirates crowd off their feet. Doncaster’s Alfie May did hit the side netting from a tight angle as Darren Ferguson’s side mounted a rare attack.
There was a change at the break for the Gunners as Josh Dasilva came on for his first team debut in place of Calum Chambers.
Arsenal should have doubled their lead four minutes after the break as Wilshere and Giroud combined to set up Walcott on the break. Bearing down on goal he really should have scored but saw his effort deflected over by the keeper. Amazingly, the referee gave a goal kick.
Olivier Giroud’s second acrobatic effort of the night, this time an overhead kick from an Alexis corner, was cleared. When Doncaster attempted to break, Maitland-Niles showed impressive pace to cover.
Nelson had an effort clawed away, before Giroud, who had another penalty claim dismissed, took a couple of heavy challenges to his ankle and went down requiring treatment. Not long after, Walcott also went down with a problem and was soon replaced by Iwobi.
In search of an equaliser, Doncaster pushed men forward but whenever it looked like they had an opening they lacked the pace to free themselves of Arsenal’s defenders. It took a Mertesacker deflection to deny Mandeville an equaliser on 84 minutes and a combination of Ospina and the crossbar came to the Gunners rescue as Blair headed the resulting corner goalwards.
Wilshere might have made the result more comfortable with a lashed effort from the edge of the box that was blocked. By the end though, Wenger’s men were doing just enough to hold off their League One opponents.