Two goals from Danny Welbeck put Arsenal into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, but it took an injury-time strike from Alexandre Lacazette to finally secure a 3-1 victory over a spirited Brentford at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
Welbeck took control of the game in the first half, opening the scoring after four minutes with a well-executed header. He made it two on 37 minutes when finishing off a flowing team move to continue a quietly impressive start to the season.
Arsenal looked confident and in control before Alan Judge curled home a wonderful free kick on 58 minutes after a silly foul from Matteo Guendouzi. That ushered in a period when the Championship team pressed dangerously for an equaliser but Arsenal could eventually rest easy when substitute Lacazette struck with seconds remaining.
Welbeck's form is a real bonus for Unai Emery: even if he isn't starting the bigger games, he is becoming a steady source of goals. Lacazette also looks sharp. Arsenal played some nice football in the first half and it was good to see teenager Emile Smith-Rowe earn a full debut.
Arsenal lost control of the game after Brentford's goal and could easily have conceded a second. Emery's defence remains a fragile beast.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Picked a strong team, and needed to. That Emery had to bring on Lacazette, Lucas Torreira and Aaron Ramsey told you the Gunners were in a game and the head coach was proactive in trying to wrestle control back after Brentford's goal changed the momentum of the match. Got the result he wanted.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 6 -- Needs to up his game if he is to trouble Petr Cech. Leno is supposed to be excellent with his feet, but a terrible miscontrol almost gave Brentford a goal in the opening minutes. Stood up well to their second-half efforts though.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 6 -- Seemed to enjoy the tussle, although was booked for a clumsy foul in the first half. A clever ball over the top for Henrikh Mkhitaryan on 47 minutes almost brought a goal.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 5 -- No game would be complete without a Mustafi moment, and it arrived on 35 minutes as he conceded possession with a poor pass and then fell over when trying to recover the situation. Looked a bit rocky in the second half.
DF Rob Holding, 6 -- Could have a run in the team if Sokratis is sidelined for a while and looked sharp when making a good intervention to deny Ollie Watkins in the box on 15 minutes.
DF Nacho Monreal, 7 -- Captain for the night, Monreal would surely have been rested if Arsenal had any other options, but he notched up an assist for Welbeck's second goal. Denied a goal by a wonderful save from the keeper.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 5 -- Little to write home about. Didn't press his claims for a more senior role.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 6 -- Looking to make a mark after losing his place in the A Team and picked up an assist when Welbeck headed in his cross. However, the young Frenchman was guilty of a rash challenge to give away the free kick that Judge scored from. Remains a beguiling mix of talent and catastrophe.
MF Alex Iwobi, 6 -- Was unlucky not to win a penalty on 20 minutes when a messy challenge put him off balance. One of his quieter nights, even if he was denied number four when the offside flag was raised.
MF Emile Smith-Rowe, 6 -- A huge night for the 18-year-old as he made his full debut, Smith-Rowe floated on the margins but could have scored on seven minutes, only to be denied by a well-timed challenge. Didn't always take the right decision but his work rate was unquestionable.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 6 -- Dropping to the second string has been a bruising demotion for the playmaker, but he played his part here and his neat footwork helped open up the pitch for the second goal. Found himself one-on-one at the start of the second half but took too long to get his shot away.
FW Danny Welbeck, 8 -- A storming night for the striker saw him draw level with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on four goals for the season. The first was a neat header, the second a sweeping finish from a glorious team move.
FW Alexandre Lacazette (for Smith-Rowe, 63), 7 -- Buzzed around enthusiastically and got his goal in injury time when exploiting some unconvincing defending.
MF Lucas Torreira (for Mkhitaryan, 76), N/R -- Helped to settle things in Arsenal's favour as the game shut down after his arrival.
MF Aaron Ramsey (for Elneny, 84), N/R -- A neat exchange with Lacazette almost set the Frenchman free -- but did little else.