Arsenal 5-0 Nottingham Forest: Martinelli opens account as Gunners cruise into fourth round

A young Arsenal side made light work of Nottingham Forest to reach the EFL Cup fourth round, with Gabriel Martinelli scoring two.

Arsenal players celebrate Gabriel Martinelli's goal.   -  Getty Images

Gabriel Martinelli opened his Arsenal account with a double on his first start as Kieran Tierney enjoyed a successful debut in a 5-0 EFL Cup third-round thrashing of Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

Unai Emery completely changed his starting XI from the side that beat Aston Villa 3-2 in the Premier League on Sunday but a youthful Gunners side dominated throughout at Emirates Stadium.

Tierney, playing in his first game since recovering from groin injury following his transfer from Celtic, was rarely tested at left-back as Arsenal's defence enjoyed a comfortable evening.

Forest, sixth in the Championship, offered little as an attacking force and its defence was breached 31 minutes in when 18-year-old Martinelli headed in his first goal for the club.

Rob Holding, making his return after nearly 10 months out with a knee problem, converted from a corner in the 71st minute to put the game beyond any doubt.

Joe Willock and the excellent Reiss Nelson got in on the act before Martinelli doubled his tally with the aid of a deflection in stoppage-time.

The woodwork denied Arsenal an early breakthrough as Nelson's low free-kick struck the right-hand post, but he was instrumental as the host took the lead in style.

Nelson lifted a wonderful cross-field ball out to Calum Chambers, whose superb volleyed cross was headed confidently into the top-right corner by Martinelli.

Emile Smith Rowe was denied when his close-range header was parried by Forest goalkeeper Aro Muric, with the winger then taken off on a stretcher after colliding with Jack Robinson as he met Tierney's cross.

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Willock wasted a gilt-edged chance to double the lead with a woeful header from point-blank range but Holding made no mistake when poor marking allowed him to emphatically dispatch a Nelson corner.

Tierney was replaced in the 77th minute by Hector Bellerin, who 58 seconds later marked his first appearance since sustaining a knee injury in January with an assist, teeing up Willock to atone for his earlier miss with a simple finish after more sloppy set-piece defending from Forest.

The overlapping Chambers set up Nelson for a deserved fourth, Muric unable to keep out the shot despite getting both hands to it.

There was nothing he could do, however, when a 25-yard effort from Martinelli took a heavy deflection off Chema Rodriguez and flew into the top-right corner to round off the rout.

What does it mean? A good night all round for Gunners

A match with a side that came into the game with just one defeat to its name could have been a tricky proposition, but Arsenal made sure a scare was never on the cards with an accomplished performance. The returns of Tierney and Bellerin should serve as significant boosts in Arsenal's quest to finish in the top four.

Emery's youth movement pays dividends

Relying on inexperienced players in this competition is something Emery's predecessor Arsene Wenger did regularly. It is a strategy that carries inherent risk but on this occasion the young guns fired on all cylinders. Nelson was fantastic throughout and finished with an assist and a goal, while Martinelli made his case for more regular first-team action with his brace.

Forest fall flat

Against an Arsenal team missing the majority of its big names, Forest had an opportunity to cause an upset. However, its display was well short of what was required. In the end it was a stark demonstration of the gulf in class between the Premier League and the Championship.

What's next?

Arsenal has nearly a week to prepare for a Premier League trip to Manchester United next Monday. Forest has a short turnaround as it faces struggling Stoke City on Friday.

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