Arsene Wenger's League Cup debutants: what happened next for 48 young Gunners

The League Cup has long been Arsene Wenger's fine-tuning laboratory creating Arsenal's stars of tomorrow. There's been mixed success, but who can doubt the usefulness of English football's third-favourite competition to the Gunners' fastidious Frenchman? So here's a glance at some of the fresh-faced youngsters to have made their names in the red and white on frosty Tuesday nights.

Arsenal 4-1 Birmingham: 14 Oct, 1997

A Luis Boa Morte double, David Platt's pen and Alberto Mendez's fourth gives the Gunners an easy win after extra time. 

Paolo Vernazza: His performances for Arsenal's youngsters saw him claim a place in England's Youth World Championship squad, and play twice for the England U21s. Unfortunately for the Islington-born youngster they were to prove fleeting highlights. After 11 games for the Gunners' first team and one league goal (vs Coventry City in 2000) he joined Watford permanently, via loan spells at Ipswich and Portsmouth. After three-and-a-half years at Vicarage Road he joined Rotherham on a free. Vernazza played for a further seven clubs and retired in 2010. He is now working as a football agent and in January 2017, was reportedly suspended by the FA for seven months for trying to sign a contract with a minor.


Jason Crowe: Debuts don't get much crapper than Crowe's. Having been handed his first professional contract at Highbury in the summer, these were exciting times for the young defender. Too exciting, perhaps. Just 33 seconds into his big debut he lunged at Martin O'Connor and was sent off by referee Uriah Rennie. The right-back would be given another two appearances by Wenger but, with Lee Dixon miles ahead in the pecking order, he joined Portsmouth in 1999. Went on to play for the likes of Grimsby, Northampton and Leeds in the Football League. 

Arsenal 1-2 Ipswich: 1 Nov, 2000

Wenger's upstarts cancel out Jamie Clapham's second-minute opener through Igor Stepanovs, but James Scowcroft scores late to win it for the visitors. 

Stuart Taylor: Earned a 2002 Premier League winner's medal with 10 appearances in the Gunners' double winning side, but in eight years at Arsenal he was second or third-choice keeper. After spending time on loan at Bristol Rovers, Crystal Palace, Peterborough and Leicester he eventually moved to Aston Villa on a four-year deal in 2005. Despite saving a Wayne Rooney penalty in 2007 he made only 12 appearances in four years. Spent three years as back-up keeper at Manchester City but failed to play for the first team. Joined Reading, where he played against the Gunners in a 4-1 defeat for the in March 2013. Now a reserve keeper at Southampton, the 36-year-old signed a one-year contract extension this summer announced via a firmly tongue-in-cheek video.

Moritz Volz: Snapped up from Schalke in 1999, Volz played twice for Arsenal after making his debut in this match. He'd play against Sunderland in the same competition two years later, before joining Wimbledon on loan. Fulham took him permanently in 2004, where he achieved cult status and scored the top flight's 15,000th goal against Chelsea. Later played for Ipswich (loan), St. Pauli and TSV 1860 Munich, where he currently resides. 

Arsenal 1-1 Rotherham: 23 Oct, 2003

A 9-8 win on penalties for the Gunners' youngsters against Division One Rotherham United at Highbury – and seven debutants for Wenger's side. 

Cesc Fabregas: At a sickeningly youthful 16 years and 177 days, the Spaniard became Arsenal's youngest-ever player (a record that stands) when he started against the Millers. He'd later become the Gunners' youngest goalscorer in a 5-1 League Cup win over Wolves in the same season, though he didn't muster a league appearance in Arsenal's incredible unbeaten campaign. He eventually became Arsenal's captain, before departing the club to return to Catalonia in 2011. Now at rivals Chelsea, following his mixed three-year spell at Barcelona.

Graham Stack: Stack's shoot-out save proved decisive in this one, but although the young goalkeeper played in each of Arsenal's games as they reached the semi-finals, he never made a league appearance for the Gunners. Loan spells with various clubs were his fate, before he finally settled at Hibs in Scotland for three years. This was followed by four seasons with Barnet, then a stint with Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League in 2016. The 35-year-old is currently with National League side Eastleigh.

Gael Clichy: Went on to make 264 appearances for the club, and would have enjoyed more had Ashley Cole not stood in the way for the majority of his Arsenal career. Played enough times to earn a league winners' medal as Arsenal went unbeaten, staying for another seven seasons before Manchester City paid around £7m for his services in summer 2011. Added two more Premier League medals there before departing for Turkish club İstanbul Basaksehir this summer. 

John Spicer: A one-appearance wonder, Spicer and his curtains graced Highbury as a substitute in this game. Though the Romford-born midfielder never made the grade under Wenger, he later forged a solid career in the Football League with the likes of Bournemouth, Burnley and Doncaster. 

Jerome Thomas: A two-time winner of the FA Youth Cup with the Gunners in 2000 and 2001, Thomas's big break finally came here. But although he'd make another two appearances in the competition against West Brom and Middlesbrough, the Premier League regular-to-be was sent on loan to QPR before joining Charlton permanently in 2004. Now a free agent after his release from Port Vale in the summer.

Quincy Owusu-Abeyie: Released by Ajax at 16 as a bad egg, future Ghana international (but Dutch U21 hopeful) Owusu-Abeyie was handed a fresh start by the Gunners. Playing three times in this season's competition before sticking around for another two campaigns (playing five times in the Premier League), a lack of opportunities signalled a permanent move to Spartak Moscow in 2006. He hasn't really settled since, taking in spells with Celta Vigo, Birmingham, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Al-Sadd, Malaga, Panathinaikos and Boavista. Returned to the Dutch league for a stint with NEC, but left the club by mutual consent this January.

Ryan Smith: In another life things could have gone much better for Smith. The exciting winger was only 16 when he made his debut as a substitute in this game, before starting against Wolves and Middlesbrough too. There'd be another three appearances in the competition the following campaign, while a season-long loan move to Leicester in 2005/06 should have been the springboard for further success. He started well in the East Midlands, but by March the Foxes had sent him back. And so the downward spiral began. Smith joined Derby permanently that summer, but rarely impressed before similarly poor spells with Millwall, Southampton and Crystal Palace. In 2010 he took himself to the MLS with Sporting Kansas City and Chivas, then headed to Greece with Xanthi. Hasn't played since 2013, though. 

NEXT: Van Persie, Muamba and Lupoli

Man City 1-2 Arsenal: 27 Oct, 2004

Goals for two of Arsenal's competititve debutants. Robbie Fowler's last-minute effort looked to have sent this one into extra-time, but there'd be more drama to come...

Robin van Persie: Like Thierry Henry before him, Van Persie would be converted by Wenger from winger to prolific striker. After making his first substitute appearance in the Community Shield against Manchester United, the Dutchman earned his first start in this game, and he netted the opener. Scored 132 goals in 277 games, including 30 league goals in his final season, before joining Sir Alex Ferguson's Old Trafford revolution in summer 2012. After helping Fergie's men win the title in his first year, things went somewhat downhill and he joined Fenerbahce for just under £4m in 2015.

Daniel Karbassiyoon: Few outside Arsenal circles will remember Arsenal's American-born utility man, who made this a debut to remember by netting the late winner off the bench as an 82nd-minute sub. After joining as a striker, Karbassiyoon was converted to left-back and played three times under Wenger. He joined Ipswich on loan later in the season before making a permanent switch to Burnley the following summer, but a string of injuries forced him into retirement at just 22. Now a North American scout for the Gunners, Karbassiyoon is widely credited for unearthing Joel Campbell and Gedion Zelalem. 

Seb Larsson: Another of the nearly-made-it brigade, Larsson featured as a left-back in this game despite making his name in the reserves as a central midfielder. Three successful appearances in the season's competition earned him the same number in the league the following campaign, before a hugely successful loan spell at Birmingham was made permanent by the West Midlands club in 2006. A Sweden international since 2008, he joined Sunderland on a free in 2011. Scored against Arsenal at the Emirates in his debut campaign, prompting Wenger to suggest he was the best free-kick taker in the top flight. Now playing for Hull in the Championship.

Philippe Senderos: Signed at 17 from Swiss outfit Servette, the promising centre-back had to wait almost two years for his first-team bow in this game. Starting alongside Pascal Cygan at the heart of defence, Senderos would go on to become a key member of Arsenal's successful sides of the mid-noughties and make 84 league appearances. Played in the 2005 FA Cup final. After falling out of favour he was shipped out on loan to AC Milan and Everton before signing for Fulham on a free in June 2010. Stints at Valencia, Aston Villa, Grasshoppers and Rangers (where he was sent off on his debut in a 5-1 loss to Celtic) followed. The 32-year-old signed for MLS side Houston Dynamo in August.

Arturo Lupoli: A first start at the City of Manchester wasn't quite the catalyst for a glittering career in north London. He bagged twice against Everton in his next League Cup game, and also featured against Manchester United and Sheffield United that season. But, after a promising run the following campaign - he even made his league debut against Blackburn - the young Italian's progress stunted. He joined Derby on loan in 2006/07 before signing permanently for Fiorentina, but a string of average loan spells proved disappointing. Eventually he fell down the Italian leagues with Ascoli, Grosetto and Varese before hot-footing to Hungary with Budapest Honved. There was something of a redemption story, though: in February 2015 he joined Frosinone, who won promotion to Serie A for the first time. 

Sunderland 0-3 Arsenal: 25 Oct, 2005

A convincing win for Wenger's side at the Stadium of Light, sending them into the fourth round.

Nicklas Bendtner: The Dane replaced Owusu-Abeyie as a late substitute on Wearside to begin his topsy-turvy career with the Gunners. After a successful loan spell with Birmingham alongside Seb Larsson in 2006/07, Bendtner returned to the Emirates in Wenger's first team set-up. Three seasons of involvement passed before the temperamental striker fell out of favour, and he joined Sunderland on loan in 2011/12. They didn't sign him, though, and despite Arsenal's best efforts to get rid with a succession of aborted trasfers, he joined Juventus in a largely pointless spell in 2012/13. Despite vowing never to play for the club again he hung around as the Gunners' second-choice striker until summer 2014, when he joined Wolfsburg. Has since played for Nottingham Forest (unsuccessfully) and Rosenborg, where he's actually been among the goals in 2017.

Fabrice Muamba: Born in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Muamba's father had to leave the country because of his political views. After moving to London in 1994, Muamba Jr. joined him at the age of 11. Despite being unable to speak a word of English when he arrived, the domineering-midfielder-to-be achieved 10 GCSEs and three A-levels. Taken on at Arsenal as a schoolboy, Muamba made two League Cup appearances in his time at the club, but with Patrick Vieria ahead in the pecking order he moved to Birmingham City in 2006. Later at Bolton, in 2012, he suffered a cardiac arrest in an FA Cup clash at Tottenham, his heart having stopped for 78 minutes. To great relief Muamba made a full recovery, but was advised not to play professional football again. Now enjoying media work and ambassadorial roles.

Anthony Stokes: Adopted by his aunt and uncle Joan and John Stokes at three years old, Stokes played for the Shelbourne youth team before appearing on Arsenal's long-standing Irish scouting radar in 2003. Made his debut for the reserves at the tender age of 15. A successful loan spell with Falkirk in 2006, where he scored 14 goals in 16 SPL games, saw him sign for Sunderland in a £2m deal. After struggling with only three goals in 36 appearances for the Black Cats he moved north of the border once more when Hibernian signed him for £500k. Celtic paid £1.2m for him in 2011 and he had a successful six-year spell in Edinburgh. Now back at Hibs and has seven goals in eight games this season.

NEXT: Denilson, Gibbs and Barazite 

West Brom 0-2 Arsenal: 24 Oct, 2006

Another away win for Wenger's starlets, this time at The Hawthorns courtesy of Jeremie Aliadiere's double either side of half-time. 

Denilson: Born in the favelas of Sao Paolo, like many Brazilian footballers it was football saved him from poverty as his hometown side offered him a professional contract. Part of the squad that won the 2005 Copa de Libertadores and FIFA Club World Club, he moved to London looking for first-team football in a £3.4m deal. Made 96 appearances in north London before the emergence of Jack Wilshere curtailed his playing time. After a loan spell with his old side he returned to Sao Paulo for good in 2013, then headed to the UAE with Al-Wahda in the summer of 2015.

Armand Traore: An early injury to Emmanuel Adebayor paved the way for Traore's Arsenal debut after 24 minutes of this game. The future Senegal international impressed enough to start the following matches against Everton and Liverpool, both semi-final legs against Tottenham and then the final against Chelsea (which the Gunners lost 2-1). After a loan spell at Portsmouth in 2008/09 Traore returned to the Emirates as a surprise first choice with injuries to both Gael Clichy and Kieran Gibbs. It didn't last, though - the former France youth international was shipped out temporarily to Juventus before QPR snapped him up permanently in summer 2011. 

Mark Randall: Just a cameo for the Milton Keynes-born yougnster here, but it would be the first in a string of appearances for Arsenal's first team. The midfielder played against Everton in the next round and earned two league appearances sandwiched in between a loan spell at Burnley, but it was his Champions League appearances against FC Twente and Porto that will really stick in the memory (for Randall, at least). It wasn't to be in the long-term, though - he later joined MK Dons and Rotherham on loan, then signed permanently for Chesterfield before leaving for Ascoli. Moved around since and is currently at Crawley Town.

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle: 25 Sep, 2007

Late goals from Bendtner and Denilson send Gunners through to round four. 

Fran Merida: Francisco 'Fran' Merida Perez signed for Arsenal aged 17 from Barcelona. Labelled as a younger Fabregas, he only appeared in 16 games for the club over three years. Left on a free for Atletico Madrid but made only 20 appearances for the Spanish side. After a loan spell at Braga and permanent move to Spanish club Hercules he joined another Atletico, this time Club Atletico Paranese in Parana state, north of Sao Paulo. Now back in Spain with Osasuna.

Sheff United 0-3 Arsenal: 31 Oct, 2007

Eduardo at the double and Denilson on song as Gunners sail to a comfortable victory at Bramall Lane.

Kieran Gibbs: The converted left winger had a good run at Arsenal. Played twice in the 2007/08 cup campaign before joining Norwich on loan for a short spell at Carrow Road. A mixture of injuries, Gael Clichy and Armand Traore hampered his progress at the Emirates - yet the England man progressed to become first-choice left-back for a time, until he began to lose his spot to Nacho Monreal. Left for West Brom this summer for £6.75m after more than 200 games for the Gunners.

Henri Lansbury: The former England U21 man will always regret never really making it at Arsenal (but he did alright, even with that hair). The talent was certainly there for the creative young midfielder, but a regular stream of imported talent eventually left Lansbury in the cold at the Emirates. Played eight times for the Gunners over five seasons, wedged in between loan spells with Scunthorpe, Watford, Norwich and West Ham. But with first-team opportunities clearly limited he joined Nottingham Forest for around £1m in summer 2013. His performances there saw him become Forest captain in 2015, before he was poached by Aston Villa for £3m in January 2017.

Nacer Barazite: Born in Arnheim to a Dutch mother and Moroccan father, Barazite started his career as a youth player with NEC. Joining Arsenal in 2006, he made his debut at Bramall Lane after replacing Eduardo. He played in the next round against Blackburn at Ewood Park but dislocated his shoulder after 17 minutes and never played for Arsenal again. After loan spells at Derby and hometown team Vitesse, he signed for Austria Wien. In 2011 he top scored in the Europa League with eight goals, attracting the attention of moneybags Monaco, for whom he signed in a £4.5m deal. His time in the principality proved to be a disappointment, though, as he failed to establish himself in the team amid a string of expensive signings. Barazite is currently with Yeni Malatyaspor in the Turkish Super Lig.

NEXT: Vela, Coquelin and Sunu

Arsenal 6-0 Sheff United: 23 Sep, 2008

Vela chips his way to a hat-trick, Bendtner grabs a brace and Jack Wilshere gets his first Gunners goal in this Emirates rout. 

Jay Simpson: The Enfield-born striker played in an U18 game aged just 13, and regularly starred for Arsenal reserves whilst still at school in Islington. Simpson also has his own unique piece of history, as he was the first player to hit a hat-trick at the Emirates in a 3-2 Youth Cup win over Cardiff City in 2007. Despite his potential he made only two appearances, and was farmed out on loan to Millwall, West Brom and QPR before signing permanently for Hull in 2010. A familiar pattern of unfufilled talent saw him net only 12 goals in 78 games for the Tigers, though, and he spent a season with Buriram United in Thailand. Eventually joined Leyton Orient in 2014 for a generally successful three-year spell, before signing for MLS outfit Philadelphia Union this year.

Francis Coquelin: The French defensive midfielder has also covered for Arsenal at right midfield and right-back. Coquelin began his career playing for AS Laval Bourny before leaving for Stade Lavallois, where Arsenal scout Gilles Grimandi spotted him playing for France in an U17 match against Israel. Loaned to Bundesliga club Freiburg for the 2013/14 season, then Charlton for the start of the next, and it looked like his Arsenal career was finally heading to an inevitable end until a customary injury crisis handed him his big break midway through the 2014/15 season. Hasn't looked back since. 

Gavin Hoyte: The younger brother of ex-Arsenal player Justin, both shared their former British sprinter mother's pace. Hoyte Jr. played in all five of England's matches at the 2007 U17 World Cup but never made the first-team grade at Arsenal. After loans spells at Watford, Brighton, Lincoln and Wimbledon he joined Dagenham, Redbridge, Gillingham, then Barnet where he suffered a serious cruciate knee ligament injury. Now with Eastleigh in the National League.

Arsenal 2-0 West Brom: 22 Sep, 2009

Academy man Watt opens the scoring before Vela seals the deal in the second half.

Wojciech Szczesny: Arsenal’s young Polish keeper had already been making a name for himself at reserve level before making his debut here. He didn’t have a quiet evening, being called into action twice to deny Simon Cox and Robert Koren. A couple of months later he would go to Brentford on loan and enjoy great success, before returning to Arsenal and establishing himself as the club’s No.1. Was loaned to Roma after he lost that spot and impressed in two seasons in Serie A to the point that Juventus swooped in to buy him for over £10m this summer. His first game for Juve finished with a clean sheet in a win against Chievo.

Sanchez Watt: It was 18-year-old Watt who grabbed the opener on his debut after Carlos Vela’s shot had been parried by Dean Kiely. The striker came into this season off the back of a successful FA Youth Cup-winning run, but his career stalled somewhat after this. A succession of loan spells brought nothing but false hope, and after finally leaving for Colchester on a permanent basis, he jumped ship to Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League in 2015, then returned to the England with Crawley Town a year later.

Gilles Sunu: Another FA Youth Cup winner who offered signs of encouragement with an energetic display. Like Watt, though, his Arsenal career fell by the wayside. After a couple of loans at Derby and French side Lorient he joined the latter on a permanent basis in 2011. After showing signs of settling in France alongside former Gunner Jeremie Aliadiere, he made two quick moves to Evian and then Ligue 1 new boys Angers in 2015. 

Arsenal 3-1 Shrewsbury: 20 Sep, 2011

James Collins shocks the Emirates with an early goal but the Gunners roar back with goals from Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Benayoun.

Ryo Miyaichi: The Japanese winger never held down a regular place at the Emirates Stadium after briefly exciting Arsenal fans with his pace and trickery. A succession of long-term injuries have stalled his career but now he’s back and looking to make up for lost time – with St. Pauli in Germany's second division. 

Oguzhan Ozyakup: Came on for the last 13 minutes in his competitive debut for Arsenal. The young Turkish midfielder didn’t have much time to make an impact but did so in his short stint on the pitch, setting up Yossi Benayoun for Arsenal's third of the night. At the end of the season he was sold to Besiktas for €500k, and has since made a great impression for the Turkish side. Made his Turkey debut in 2013 – although he could have played for the Netherlands too. A boy done good. 

Chuks Aneke: The powerful midfielder swept all in front of him in the U21s, but found first-team life more difficult. This was Aneke's only Gunners appearance, preceding loan spells with Stevenage, Preston and Crewe (twice). He joined Belgium's Zulte Waregem in 2014 but returned to these shores two years later when he joined MK Dons.

NEXT: Gnabry, Bellerin and Angha

Arsenal 6-1 Coventry: 26 Sep, 2012

Gunners trounce League One side with goals from Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arshavin, Walcott (2) and Miquel. 

Damian Martinez: The Argentine keeper is still contracted to Arsenal, and appeared in the infamous 7-5 victory over Reading in 2012/13. Previously enjoyed loan spells at Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham, Wolves and is now at Getafe in Spain. Unlikely to make an impact in Wenger's first team with Petr Cech and David Ospina ahead in the pecking order. 

Martin Angha: Joined Arsenal from Zurich in 2010 and made his debut here, where Arsenal were rarely tested. Left the club this summer and joined FC Nurnberg in the Bundesliga, but didn't make a huge impact for the German side and dropped down a division to 1860 Munich in 2014/15 where he counted former Gunner Volz as a team-mate. Joined St. Gallen in his native Switzerland this summer.

Serge Gnabry: The one that got away. Gnabry's debut here was quickly followed by his Premier League bow within a month. Yet the explosive German winger suffered a knee injury which later stalled his progress and kept him out for much of 2014/15. He barely featured in an aborted loan spell at West Brom, yet after he joined Werder Bremen for £5m in 2016, he proved a Bundesliga hit, scoring 11 goals in 27 games. Now a Germany international, the 22-year-old signed for Bayern Munich this summer (although he has been loaned to Hoffenheim for the season).

Reading 5-7 Arsenal (aet): 30 Oct, 2012

A bonkers game where Arsenal rally from 4-0 down after 37 minutes to storm back in the most dramatic fashion. Walcott grabs hat-trick. 

Thomas Eisfeld: The solitary signing of another barren transfer window for the Gunners in January 2012 from Borussia Dortmund, Eisfeld made his bow with half an hour remaining at the Madejski Stadium. He didn't play again until the following season, where he grabbed another pair of League Cup outings (and scored at West Brom), but never established himself and joined Fulham permanently in 2014/15. Failed to make his mark at Craven Cottage, though, and after a loan spell with German second-tier side Bochum, joined them permanently.

Jernade Meade: The pint-sized left-back hasn't made a league appearance for any club, despite joining Swansea's development squad in 2013, then being loaned out to Luton. He has, however, a Champions League start under his belt from 2012/13 against Olympiakos (who else?) after this 15-minute extra-time cameo at Reading. In 2014, joined the Spartan South Midlands Football League's Hadley, then spent a season at St Albans, before he signed for Swedish side AFC Eskilstuna in 2016.

West Brom 1-1 Arsenal: 25 Sep, 2013

Saido Berahino cancels out Eisfeld's second-half strike but Arsenal advance on penalties. 

Isaac Hayden: Despite coming through the youth team as a centre-back, cultured youngster Hayden made his debut here as a central midfielder for the injured Mathei Flamini. He wouldn't play again for another year, then spent a season-long loan at Hull in 2015/16. Hayden signed for Newcastle last summer, helped the Mapgies out of the Championship and is now playing regularly in the Premier League.

Hector Bellerin: Former Barcelona product Bellerin made an inconspicuous start to his Gunners career with a substitute appearance at The Hawthorns, before impressing on loan at Watford in the Championship. The marauding right-back finally got his big break in 2014/15 when he was chucked in at the deep end against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Has become a firm fixture in the first team since that season, the rapid 22-year-old full-back also earning three caps for Spain.

Kristoffer Olsson: Replaced fellow youth team graduate Hayden and scored in the shoot-out, but this was the young Swede's sole Arsenal appearance. Joined FC Midtjylland on loan almost a year later and made the move permanent just over two months later. Joined Swedish side AIK at the start of 2017.

Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Arsenal: 27 Oct, 2015

Under-strength Gunners are put to the sword by Wednesday in this fourth-round clash

Alex Iwobi: Pick of the four debutants in this match, the Nigerian international went on to score twice in his first two Premier League games (against Everton and against Watford). Featured in a total of 38 matches last season and was an unused substitute in Arsenal’s FA Cup final win. The 21-year-old showed a new dimension to his game this season with an assured central midfield display in the 0-0 draw with Chelsea.

Glen Kamara: Sole appearance for the Finnish midfielder who lasted an hour, by which time Arsenal were already 3-0 down. Was loaned to Southend then Colchester, before signing a permanent deal with Scottish Premiership side Dundee this summer.

Ismael Bennacer: A notable debut in that the Algerian midfielder was a substitute for a substitute - yet somehow arrived in the game after only 19 minutes. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain limped off after five minutes, but his replacement Theo Walcott lasted just 14 minutes before a calf injury struck. Cue Bennacer, who departed the club this summer as he signed for Italian Serie B side Empoli.

Krystian Bielik: Polish centre-back came on for fellow debutant Kamara after an hour with the Gunners already in deep trouble. Played again in the League Cup last season, then spent the second half of 2016/17 on loan at Birmingham where he featured in 10 Championship games. The 19-year-old had shoulder surgery in September but should be fit by December and a January loan move seems likely.

Nottingham Forest 0-4 Arsenal: 20 Sep, 2016

Granit Xhaka, Lucas Perez (2) and Oxlade-Chamberlain score as Forest are beaten despite the presence of Lord Bendtner in their ranks

Chris Willock: Highly-rated England U19 winger came off the bench for for Chuba Akpom after 83 minutes, meaning he was at least on the pitch to help celebrate Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury time fourth goal. Also made a substitute appearance in the 2-0 win over Reading in the next round, but this summer saw a surprise move for the teenager; Willock turned down a contract extension at Arsenal in order to join Benfica in his hunt for more first-team football.


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Joe Brewin

Joe was the Deputy Editor at FourFourTwo until 2022, having risen through the FFT academy and been on the brand since 2013 in various capacities. 

By weekend and frustrating midweek night he is a Leicester City fan, and in 2020 co-wrote the autobiography of former Foxes winger Matt Piper – subsequently listed for both the Telegraph and William Hill Sports Book of the Year awards.