After a tense match with a determined Oxford United team on a chilly Monday night in Oxford, Mikel Arteta‘s Gunners prevailed. After this victory, they will face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the fourth round.
Both teams were hesitant to attack too much at the beginning of the game for fear of being caught on the break. This led to a cautious first 45 minutes, and Arsenal was dismayed to enter at a score of 0-0.
The London side did not generate enough chances to deal with, but Oxford did well to maintain a strong defense for the duration of the opening session. The home crowd would have preferred a more engaging opening to this one.
After the Premier League leaders failed to score for more than an hour, Mohamed Elneny’s header broke the deadlock at the Kassam Stadium.
The victory was subsequently secured by Nketiah, who now has four goals in as many games since the World Cup break. However, the Gunners’ success might have been at a price after Bukayo Saka hobbled out in the closing minutes.
In place of the injured Gabriel Jesus, Mikel Arteta selected a powerful lineup with his favoured front three, with Saka and Gabriel Martinelli flanking Nketiah in attack.
The decision not to award a penalty for handball when Elliott Moore blocked Albert Sambi Lokonga’s attempt further angered Arsenal, who controlled possession before the break but struggled to produce any clear-cut chances.
Fabio Vieira, who was given the chance to flourish despite not frequently being in Arteta’s starting lineup, made his mark with two assists after the break. Elneny strongly headed in the former Porto midfielder’s enticing free-kick for the Egyptian’s first goal since 2021.
After Jesus was hurt, Nketiah continued to take advantage of his long run in the side. After Vieira’s through ball, the all-time leading scorer for England’s under-21 team coolly rounded Edward McGinty and rolled the ball into an open goal.
And after receiving treatment in scenes that were upsetting for Arsenal, Saka was subsequently substituted, but there was some consolation in Emile Smith Rowe’s first appearance since September.
With 14 minutes remaining, Nketiah added his second goal of the game with another cunning finish as he dinked the ball over McGinty. The top two teams in the Premier League will square off at the Etihad on the final weekend of January, providing a significantly tougher test in the next round.