Theo Walcott’s first goal of the season was enough to seal our place in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup against a hard-working Doncaster Rovers team.
Pitting Arsene Wenger against Sir Alex Ferguson’s son, Darren, we dominated the first half but struggled to maintain our intensity after the restart and survived some nervy moments in the closing stages.
We had made a bright start to the game, completely in charge during the opening exchanges and pinning the visitors back deep in their own half.
Walcott saw a shot saved low down by Ian Lawlor, before Olivier Giroud came close to reaching his century of Arsenal goals with an acrobatic effort that cannoned off the bar.
It was one-way traffic, with Jack Wilshere – in his first start since May 2016 – dictating play from the centre of the pitch, stroking the ball around and underlining his enduring class.
The England international had half a chance to double the advantage, but scuffed his shot at the near post after being found by Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Giroud was next to try his luck after Mohamed Elneny curled in an inviting cross to the striker from the right, but his header looped just over the bar.
Doncaster briefly threatened just before the interval when Rodney Kongolo pounced on a loose ball and raced towards goal, before finding Alfie May but the forward’s shot flew into the sidenetting.
We remained on the front foot after the interval, with Walcott spurning a good chance to double our lead after being played in by Giroud, but he lifted his shot over the bar.
With Doncaster growing in confidence the longer the game remained with just a goal in it, a degree of tension filled the ground.
It only deepened when, in the 79th minute, an error from Ainsley Maitland-Niles saw John Marquis race through on goal… only for the Arsenal man to race back and win the ball back before the forward could take advantage.
Liam Mandeville then came close to an equaliser after working space for himself in the Arsenal area, only to see his shot deflected wide. From the resulting corner, Matty Blair sent a towering header towards the top corner, but David Ospina tipped it over.
With nerves jangling, that was the last of the chances and the final whistle was met with relief from the home fans.
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AS IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
We have secured our place in the fourth round of the League Cup for the 14th time in the past 15 seasons.
The draw for the fourth round of the Carabao Cup was made after the final whistle, and we'll host Norwich City at Emirates Stadium in the week commencing October 23.
The boys now have the weekend off – but return to Premier League action on Monday night at the Emirates against West Brom.
We have won our last six home games against the Baggies, conceding just once in the process – although Tony Pulis’ side beat us last time out, 3-1 at The Hawthorns, in March.
SPOTLIGHT ON JACK
Jack Wilshere was back on home territory, making his first start for the club since a 4-0 win against Aston Villa in May 2016.
It was an encouraging performance from the 25-year-old too, as he passed the ball around slickly and always looked to prise open the Doncaster defence.
Here are some of his highlights:
6 - Wilshere gets the ball outside the area and chips a lovely ball over the top of the defence to Olivier Giroud, whose acrobatic volley hits the bar
11 - Alexis releases Maitland-Niles down the left flanker and he cuts the ball towards Wilshere at the near post but he scuffs his shot wide
28 - Wilshere collects the ball 25 yards out and, with time and space available, takes aim, but his fierce drive is deflected just wide
48 - Doncaster take an elaborate free kick, but before they can deliver the ball into the area Wilshere races out and slides in to win the ball, earning a huge cheer from the home fans
49 - Arsenal break with Wilshere feeding Giroud, who curls a lovely ball around the back of the defence for Walcott to race in on goal, but he fires over the bar
89 - Iwobi breaks down the right and cuts the ball back across the edge of the area for Wilshere, whose powerful drive is deflected out for a corner
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