Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a hat-trick as we eased into the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night, courtesy of a 6-0 win at West Bromwich Albion.
On a near-perfect evening during which Aaron Ramsdale marked his Gunners debut with some fines saves and a clean sheet, and Martin Odegaard celebrated his return with a glorious backheel assist, our captain - making his first start of the campaign - took home the matchball after a typically-clinical performance in front of goal.
Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette added further gloss to the scoreline against a young Baggies side who carved out some decent openings of their own, but had no answer to the attacking dynamism of Aubameyang et al.
Auba had given West Brom an early warning, getting in behind and marginally taking the ball out of play before crossing for Pepe to knock home from close range.
The hosts didn’t heed their reprieve and fell behind after 17 minutes, Aubameyang tapping home from close range after Alex Palmer pushed Saka’s initial effort into his path.
Odegaard went close to adding a second midway through the half, hitting the post from a tight angle, while Palmer raced from his goal to prevent Aubameyang from taking the ball around the goalkeeper after he had accelerated clear of the hosts’ inexperienced backline.
Despite Arsenal threatening sporadically, it looked as though West Brom’s young side would go into the break just a goal behind. Enter Aubameyang. Mohamed Elneny’s slide-rule pass sent Pepe clear and, though he was denied by the frame of the goal, Auba was once more perfectly placed to finish from close range.
There was still time for Arsenal to add a third before the break - Aubameyang turning provider by acrobatically teeing up Pepe to sweep home from inside the six-yard box after another lightning quick break.
It took just five minutes after the restart for a now rampant Arsenal to add a fourth. Odegaard took centre stage, delightfully backheeling the ball through to the onrushing Saka, who finished clinically after Aubameyang - in an offside position - had intelligently left the ball.
Just after the hour, Aubameyang completed his hat-trick in style, curling into the top corner from just inside the area.
Lacazette completed the scoring soon after, firing home Pepe’s inviting low cross just two minutes after replacing Granit Xhaka.
Ramsdale - impressive on his first appearance - saved well from Taylor Gardner-Hickman in the closing stages as we completed our first victory of the season in emphatic fashion.
Ramsdale and Odegaard were included from the start as Mikel Arteta fielded a strong starting XI, also including the likes of Xhaka, Saka and Pepe.
Sead Kolasinac started at centre half while Lacazette was fit enough to take a place on the bench.
Valerien Ismael picked a West Brom side with an average age of just 22, though they did have experience in the shape of Robert Snodgrass, Adam Reach and Kenneth Zohore.
We travel to Manchester City in the Premier League's early kick-off on Saturday, before the first international break of the season.
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