Last night felt like a bit of a throwback night for me personally. Not just because I was once again reunited with the collective of pre game drinking buddies I have been going to football with for the last few years, but because the game wasn’t on TV and it was a time that was half decent, with no late night arrival home. It was like the old skool 3pm kick offs that I used to not be privy to because I didn’t have a season ticket. Back in the 90s I was too young to go and my mum and dad have never been football fans, so a 3pm kick off was 1548 Capital Gold, the London radio station where Jonathan Pearce made his name and commented on London clubs, usually The Arsenal.

So it was – perhaps selfishly – kind of nice – although I appreciate bloody annoying for those who weren’t inside the ground.

I do wonder if that made an impact on the number of tickets sold, because Arsenal had circa 50,000 people inside the stadium and although a large chunk were Wimbledon fans (must have been around 4,000 there), it felt pretty full last night for what is essentially an early round League Cup game that usually doesn’t have too many people turning up. When I say that I mean I’d normally expect it to have around 45,000, but that extra 5,000 fans kind of made it feel a little fuller. It was nice.

And before I talk about the game itself, the Wimbledon kit was also nice too. It looked like something straight out of the Wimbledon 90s nostalgia locker and perhaps that added to my feeling of turning back time for last night’s game.

As for the game itself, it was as comfortable in the end as it could have been. In the first half it might not have felt as comfortable, but when you look in the cold light of day then you realise that in reality Wimbledon barely laid a glove on us and the fact we scored early enough to have a lead for most of the game, it probably killed the game off more in the players’ heads than it did for us in the stand.

Arteta named a line up that for me was all spot on bar a couple of admissions. I think most of us can agree that when we saw Partey starting we were a little worried. He has had injury problems, we have a massive game at the weekend, Wimbledon were on a pretty big day out for them, so the possibility of somebody leaving a foot in or going in that extra hard on him and doing damage, felt real. But thankfully he was taken off after 59 minutes having got a little more minutes in those legs and the hope is that he is fit, ready and raring to go on Sunday, because we need him. He was a controller of a lot of the play last night and you can tell how much better we look when he is in the middle of the park, but because we expect that from him I came out of the ground last night thinking more about other players than Thomas Partey.

Sambi gave another impressive display last night I thought. Powerful, strong to ride tackles and an athleticism that allows him to glide past players. There were a couple of instances in the first and second half where he just carried the ball and shifted direction a couple of times to send the nearest Wimbledon player for a walk, that showed some real class and I thought he demonstrated just how close he should be to becoming a regular first teamer.

I also thought Tavares did well too. In the second half it was so much more obvious because he was on the side we were sitting on, but he has such energy and power and was unlucky to hit the woodwork in the second half, because his play and the space he found himself in felt like he deserved something. I mused just before halftime that with each match he is making me feel more and more comfortable that if/when Tierney has a spell on the side-lines, he can step up and will be good for us.

But to the goals, which were quite spread apart, to my surprise. Martinelli’s excellent run and drive in to the box was impressive and when the Wimbledon player went to ground there was only ever going to be one result. I’ve seen some people say that Martinelli didn’t have a great game but I thought he ran the width well, he was a big impact putting us in front early on and essentially made the first goal for Lacazette to sweep home the penalty.

The second goal came with both Smith Rowe and Saka on the pitch and you could tell that we were just too much for them when Emile stabbed home from inside the box. Good work from Lacazette and on that right hand side we got in a few times, so the finish from Smith Rowe felt quite routine in the end. With both him and Saka on the pitch Wimbledon looked a little ragged and that the third goal came just three minutes later on 80 minutes showed that. It was the pick of the bunch and was a good ball in between the centre half and left back to the on-rushing Cedric (who was pretty average all evening other than that move) who found Nketiah, to back heel the ball home. The best goal of the evening and Arteta spoke about how pleased he was for Eddie that he got his goal. We’re all pleased, I’m sure, but giving 83 minutes to a guy who isn’t signing a new contract is a strange one for me, when you have Balogun on the bench who has signed a new deal and clearly looks like he’s here for the longer term. I’ve seen some suggest this was putting Eddie in the shop window but who on earth is going to pay money in January for a player that can go for free next summer? To me I feel like Arteta should be shunting Nketiah out. If we’re not going to get any money for him then what is the point of playing him? Invest those minutes in players who might be here longer term and whilst I understand that Eddie might be a more polished player right now, we aren’t a charity and shouldn’t be giving minutes to players who are gone this time next year.

It’s the same with Kolasinac on the bench. Why? What value does it add? He’s third choice left back in a season in which we’re probably going to be playing 45-ish games. To me it makes no sense but hey, as long as Arsenal are winning, that is the important thing. We also had plenty of rotation meaning that players who play on Sunday will have had a full week of rest. I expect a change around again on Sunday and I hope that extra bit of rest gives us a slight advantage.

It’s Leeds at home in the next round. Hardly a glamour tie but hopefully another opportunity to give competitive minutes to some of those rotated players. Catch you all tomorrow.