By Jordan James Davies
On Tuesday evening Arsenal continued their fine form after racking up their fifth consecutive match without defeat, confidently brushing aside Nottingham Forest 4-0 in the third round of the EFL Cup.
As well as maintaining momentum ahead of this weekend's return to Premier League action, the match provided a chance for some players to stake a claim in Arsene Wenger's thinking for his first team squad selection, with several impressing in their performance at the City Ground.
From youngsters looking to break into the side on a permanent basis to new signings showing exactly why they were brought to the club in the first place, here are five Gunners who really stepped up and made themselves known.
1. Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Despite playing in an unnatural position, the U18 England international displayed his immense versatility, as well as composure under pressure against an attacking minded Forest side. His talents were also shown in his attacking prowess, providing some excellent crosses down the right flank and maybe should have a grabbed a goal of his own just before half-time.
The 19-year-old spent last season on-loan with Championship side Ipswich Town, however Wenger would have been encouraged by his first outing of the season, and may well introduce him to the side as back-up in a number of positions, possibly earning him a Premier League appearance this campaign, in defence or midfield.
2. Jeff Reine-Adelaide
The talented Frenchman has frequently been likened to a younger version of Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira, and his performance on Tuesday night could do that comparison no harm at all. His assurance on the ball and insistence of driving forward in possession will do his reputation no harm, while his perhaps unnatural running style was effective in attack.
The former FC Lens midfielder earned himself a senior contract with the club this summer after impressing Wenger in the youth side, and may just well have taken another step in the right direction to making his mark on the first XI, from the bench or starting.
3. Chuba Akpom
Having been sent out on loan to four different clubs in the space of two years, this could be the year the England U21 international sets his stall out in the manager's eyes this season as a real competitor as a striker in the first XI. Playing wide on the left, Akpom used his pace fantastically well, and was a threat throughout the game. His brilliant through ball to Lucas Perez also showed his ability to create.
With a lot of competition in the central striker role at the club, it may well be that the 20-year-old finds his natural position out wide, enabling him to cut in and scare defences with his speed and vision on the ball.
4. Lucas Perez
The Spaniard appears to have finally arrived at the club after scoring his first two goals for the club. The left-footed poacher has shown the fans just what he is about, which is something different to the set of attackers already in the squad. His knowledge to drift in and behind the defensive line is apparent, while his aggression and determination to be on the ball provides some grit to the Arsenal attacking line.
Two goals and an assist mid-week for the 28-year-old is the perfect start to his Gunners career, and his ability to play across the front three with a complete attacking mindset could see him used much more by Wenger as the season progresses.
5. Granit Xhaka
After a stunning long range effort against Hull City on the weekend, the Swiss international showed it as no fluke after another fine strike against Forest. His mobility and tactical awareness in and around the midfield combines with his natural flare to push forward and create effortlessly, and had the Arsenal contingent chanting his name throughout at the City Stadium.
The fans have been calling for the former Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder to feature in Wenger's starting XI since arriving in the summer, and he just may have convinced his manager that he offers a wide set of skills and abilities that could take the Gunners to the next level in the league and in Europe.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.