Eddie Nketiah’s delightful finish added gloss to a 3-0 win Arsenal were made to work hard for at home to AFC Wimbledon in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
Arsenal had won their prior two matches – against Norwich and Burnley – by just a single goal and looked to be heading for another narrow victory as they struggled to add to Alexandre Lacazette’s early penalty.
A late flurry consisted of a vital second from Emile Smith Rowe and Nketiah’s gorgeous flick, however, and Mikel Arteta’s men have some momentum to carry into Sunday’s derby against Tottenham.
Third-tier Wimbledon were far from embarrassed, although they must have feared the worst having conceded inside 11 minutes.
Nesta Guinness-Walker’s rash lunge on Gabriel Martinelli on the right side of the penalty area gave Lacazette an opportunity from 12 yards, which he dispatched by sending Nikola Tzanev the wrong way.
But that goal was Arsenal’s only shot on target of the first half, even if Tzanev almost gifted them a second when he palmed a looping ball against his own crossbar following Cedric Soares’ corner.
A fierce Thomas Partey shot was pushed away after the break, while Nuno Tavares could only direct a far-post header against the upright.
Arteta was forced to bring on Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka to put the game to bed, however, and the Arsenal number 10 found the breakthrough, prodding in after a scramble with Lacazette claiming the assist.
Nketiah’s backheel took the game away from Wimbledon, before Saka twice came close to getting his own name on the scoresheet, whipping a first shot wide and finding Tzanev his match from the second.