Jeremie Aliadiere bagged a brace as Arsenal reached the Carling Cup Fourth Round with a 2-0 win at West Brom on Tuesday night.
The 23-year-old striker, making his first start of the season, slotted home a penalty in the 34th minute and added a sweetly-timed volley five minutes after the break.
Arsène Wenger's young side thoroughly deserved their victory against a highly-experienced West Brom outfit. After a slow start they found their feet and produced a committed, composed, mature performance to beat one of the Championship's form sides.
On the strength of this performance, we could be at the start of another exciting Carling Cup run for Arsenal.
Wenger retained only one player from the side that had beaten Reading so comprehensively on Sunday - Johan Djourou. Aside from that it was the usual mix of first-team squad members not involved at present and promising youngsters. Wenger handed first-team debuts to Denilson in central midfield and Matthew Connolly at right back. The bench consisted of three 17-year-olds, a 19-year-old and Mart Poom, the vastly experienced Estonian keeper.
West Brom manager Tony Mowbray also left out a couple of big names but his side was still packed with experience.
The home side were superior for the first 15 minutes but they failed to create anything of note. In fact the first real chance for either side came in the 17th minute when Theo Walcott's corner fell to Alex Song and the Cameroon midfielder rifled a shot over the bar.
Manuel Almunia had to punch clear a Darren Carter corner as John Hartson rose at the far post. Then the Spaniard saved well from an interesting free-kick by Nathan Ellington.
By this time Emmanuel Adebayor had limped off with what looked like a thigh injury. He was replaced by Armand Traore, who filled in on the left side of midfield. The debutant made an energetic early impact.
Mathieu Flamini and Song fired over as Arsenal started to flex their muscles. They finally got the goal they increasingly deserved when Aliadiere burst through on the left in the 34th minute. He cut into the area and was tripped by Steve Watson as he bore down on goal. The West Brom crowd disputed the decision but the French striker buried the penalty in style.
Traore nearly set up Aliadiere for another at the near post shortly afterwards but this time the he could only prod the ball straight at Russell Hoult.
Five minutes after the restart it was 2-0. Arsenal won a free-kick near the right-hand corner flag. Walcott flicked the ball to Aliadiere at the near post and he dispatched his, and Arsenal's second, with a crisp, angled volley.
West Brom threw players forward after the goal. They had little choice. They forced a number of corners but the heads of Senderos and Djourou or the hands of Almunia dealt with everything.
In addition, Richard Chaplow and Martin Albrechtson tried their luck from distance. Their efforts never looked like reducing the arrears.
Mark Randall came on to make his Arsenal debut late on and Traore should have added to the scoreline but blasted over from close range.
Three minutes from time, Walcott broke clear and forced a fine low save from Hoult.
It would have capped a fine performance from a fine young side. But Aliadiere's goals were more than enough to win the tie.
- Clichy Yellow Card
- Denilson 79
- Adebayor 23
- Aliadiere Goal! Goal!
- Traore 23
- Randall 79
- Watson Yellow Card
- Robinson Yellow Card
- Chaplow 58
- Quashie 69
- Carter 38
- Albrechtsen 69
- Gera 58
- Kamara 38