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Arsenal responded to back-to-back defeats to Manchester United and Everton by overcoming the challenges of Southampton, West Ham, and Leeds, scoring nine goals in the process. That three-game winning run has catapulted Mikel Arteta’s side into the top four and they now have an excellent opportunity to reach a League Cup semi-final, that’s if they can navigate a home fixture with League One Sunderland on Tuesday night of course.
Sunderland have recovered from a difficult spell at the end of October to propel themselves within touching distance of the automatic promotion places in the third tier of English football, but they should come unstuck against an in-form Gunners outfit. With a busy Christmas season on the horizon, Arteta is likely to rotate for this clash. However, Arsenal should have far too much for their lower league opponents.
Tuesday 7.45pm – Arsenal v Sunderland
Watch on Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Football
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Arsenal have not conceded in their last five games at the Emirates, but still boast one of the least convincing defences of the Premier League’s big six. Arteta’s men have conceded 23 goals in 18 league games this term, at a rate of far more than a goal per game and have conceded consolation goals in three of their last eight league wins.
They face a Sunderland side that has scored the third-most goals in League One this season, averaging almost two goals per game. The Black Cats have netted in each of their last seven league games and should be capable of at least grabbing a consolation goal on Tuesday night.
Eddie Nketiah has struggled to nail down a consistent run of starts at Arsenal and appears a level below what would be expected of a big six player. He is, however, something of a specialist at scoring meaningless goals in cup competitions for the Gunners.
Five of Nketiah’s 15 Arsenal goals have come in the League Cup, with four of those goals coming as the last goal in the game. He has scored a further five goals in the Europa League and FA Cup, scoring mightily important strikes such as putting Arsenal 3-0 up against Rapid Wien or giving them a 2-0 lead at Portsmouth. Barring a positive COVID test, Nketiah is almost guaranteed to start on Tuesday and should do what he does best by striking when the game is already over.
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Martinelli has rediscovered his goalscoring touch over the last month, grabbing four goals in six league games. The Brazilian forward doubled his goalscoring return from last season in that six-game spell and will look to continue that momentum into the Christmas period. He has featured in each of Arsenal’s three League Cup games this campaign and should retain his place in the team, despite his newfound importance in Arteta’s plans.
Martinelli made a name for himself in the League Cup two seasons ago when he scored four goals in two games against Nottingham Forest and Liverpool, but he has failed to score in the competition since. He could make amends for that on Tuesday night.
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