It was patience rather than panache that won the day for Arsenal as they eased past a game Wimbledon side on Wednesday night in the Carabao Cup.
It’s a game that will hardly go down as a classic, much more a routine win for an Arsenal side that, in all honesty, never really slipped out of third gear.
While they made a strong start in front of a surprisingly good attendance at the Emirates (it must have been upwards of 50,000), there was an easing of the pedal after Alex Lacazette coolly dispatched his penalty to open the scoring early on.
I suspect it was a combination of complacency and a desire not to over-exert from among those on the pitch because they probably sensed, as we did in the stands, that the visitors never really had enough to seriously threaten them.
That’s not to say that a single moment couldn’t have changed the game, of course, rather that, should they have wanted to, Arsenal would have have been able to raise their level.
In midfield, Thomas Partey and Sambi Lokonga were firmly in control and more or less dictating the play, while Nuno Tavares impressed with a marauding performance at left back.
This was by no means a strenuous examination for the midfield pair, nor anyone else on the pitch, but the minutes would have been important for many who might not feature heavily this season.
And that lack of game time did tell in some performances, with Eddie Nketiah, Cedric Soares and Bernd Leno uninspiring for the most part. Notwithstanding his quite sublime goal, Eddie was wasteful in possession while Cedric’s touch was miles off and Leno’s confidence in possession clearly low.
Gabriel Martinelli, as always, was heavily involved – I believe it was his run that drew the first-half penalty – but there was a strange reluctance from him to really run hard at his man. I’m not sure whether that was through confidence, fitness, or instruction but the youngster seemed to play a little within himself on the night.
But I won’t dwell too long on the negatives because there weren’t really that many to dwell on. It was a professional performance from Mikel Arteta’s men and a good result, especially because it resulted in another clean sheet.
Our start to the season was, by an measure, a terrible one so to have gone the last three games without conceding a goal is encouraging. If we can continue that sort of form into this weekend’s north London derby, we stand a good choice of building some serious momentum heading into the next international break in October.