Arsenal made it three straight wins with a comfortable triumph over third-tier AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup.
French striker Alexandre Lacazette was on target early from the penalty spot at Emirates Stadium after Gabriel Martinelli had been fouled by Nesta Guinness-Walker.
Visiting goalkeeper Nik Tzanev then largely frustrated the Gunners, who made 10 changes to the side that beat Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday, before Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe both made excellent impacts off the bench.
Smith Rowe made it 2-0 13 minutes from time before Arsenal’s progress into round four was fully guaranteed thanks to a stylish backheel flick from Eddie Nketiah.
Mikel Arteta’s resurgent side will host fellow Premier League outfit Leeds in the last 16 next month, with the pressure now easing on the Spaniard amid a crucial upturn in fortunes following a dismal start to the 2021/22 campaign.
Follow Arsenal vs AFC Wimbledon reaction with Standard Sport’s live blog below!
Arsenal vs AFC Wimbledon highlights
GOAL! Nketiah flick puts result beyond doubt
GOAL! Smith Rowe doubles the lead
GOAL! Lacazette strikes from the spot
21:43 , Malik Ouzia
Big cheers around the Emirates as some of the night’s other scores are read out - Tottenham and Chelsea heading to penalties, Man United knocked out.
FT: Arsenal 3-0 AFC Wimbledon
21:36 , Malik Ouzia
Arsenal safely into the fourth round. It might’ve taken them a while to make it safe on the scoresheet, but they were comfortable all night in truth.
21:34 , Malik Ouzia
90+1 mins: This is some cameo from the boy. This time Saka plays a one-two with Lacazette and his effort is on target but Tzanev pushes it away.
21:33 , Malik Ouzia
90 mins: That would’ve taken the roof off. Bukayo Saka picks the ball up the right just inside the Wimbledon half, skins his man, then cuts inside onto his left and curls inches wide of the far corner. Great effort.
GOAL! Arsenal 3-0 AFC Wimbledon | Eddie Nketiah 81'
21:23 , Malik Ouzia
No surprise Saka is involved again as he feeds Cedric on the overlap but from his cross it’s all about Nketiah’s finish. A superb, backheeled flick into the far corner.
GOAL! Arsenal 2-0 AFC Wimbledon | Emile Smith Rowe 78'
21:19 , Malik Ouzia
That should do it!
Lacazette does really well to keep the ball alive after some nice link up with Saka and Smith Rowe and it’s the latter who is on hand to poke home Arsenal’s second.
21:18 , Malik Ouzia
76 mins: Some noise this. Gabriel Martinelli’s night is done and Bukayo Saka comes on to what I reckon is a bigger cheer than for the goal.
21:17 , Malik Ouzia
74 mins: The game has really opened up since Partey’s departure - Nuno Tavares has got all sorts of freedom down the left to charge forward but his final ball has let him down so far.
21:14 , Malik Ouzia
71 mins: Smith Rowe’s introduction has seen Arsenal’s midfield shape pretty much flipped on its head - Mailtand-Niles and Lokonga are now a deeper pair, with Smith Rowe in the No10.
21:07 , Malik Ouzia
64 mins: Post? Save? Perhaps some combination of both as Martinelli’s cross finds Nketiah at the back post and he is inches away from doubling the lead.
21:05 , Malik Ouzia
63 mins: That’s excellent defending. Ayoub Assal gets into a great position down the right and for once Arsenal’s centre-halves aren’t waiting in the middle to clear but Cedric has covered brilliantly to make a sliding clearance.
21:02 , Malik Ouzia
59 mins: No surprise that Thomas Partey is the man to make way. Another hour under his belt - see you on Sunday, son.
Smith Rowe is into the action.
21:01 , Malik Ouzia
58 mins: Striiikkeee. Thomas Partey shifts it across the box and is urged to shoot. He obliges and Tzanev has to help it over the bar.
20:59 , Malik Ouzia
57 mins: Emile Smith Rowe is imminent for Arsenal.
20:59 , Malik Ouzia
56 mins: Arsenal’s two best players so far combine as Partey spreads out wide to Martinelli but the Brazilian takes on one man too many and is crowded out.
20:55 , Malik Ouzia
52 mins: It’s not clicked at all for Arsenal yet in the second half. Emile Smith Rowe, Folarin Balogun and Mohamed Elneny are all out warming up.
The visitors are about to send on Aaron Pressley.
20:50 , Malik Ouzia
48 mins: Bernd Leno is now defending the goal just in front of the Wimbledon fans and is getting a few, shall we say, reminders, that Aaron Ramsdale now appears to be the Gunners No1.
20:47 , Malik Ouzia
Right then, the teams are on their way back out at the Emirates. Can Arsenal put this one to bed or are Wimbledon sensing an upset?
20:45 , Malik Ouzia
A reminder of the bench that Mikel Arteta has selected this evening: Hein, Kolasinac, Chambers, Elneny, Smith Rowe, Saka, Balogun.
It’s not one that you’re looking at and thinking he’ll be desperate to make wholesale changes to get players minutes - quite the opposite in the cases of Saka and Smith Rowe.
You’d imagine we’ll see Balogun at some point though, given how little football the front three that started have played this season.
HT: Arsenal 1-0 AFC Wimbledon
20:32 , Malik Ouzia
Pretty entertaining and the cup tie still alive at the break.
20:30 , Malik Ouzia
45 mins: That’s the second yellow card of the evening. Nketiah punts it up the line and Heneghan knows he hasn’t a prayer of catching him so decides to boot him up in the air instead.
20:28 , Malik Ouzia
42 mins: My word. Cedric’s corner is whipped in with all sorts of venom and a clearing header at the front post goes miles up in the air but drops pretty much back onto the line. Tzanev pushes it onto the bar and somehow no one in red can force it home as it drops in the six-yard box.
20:25 , Malik Ouzia
40 mins: Into the final five minutes of the half then. Arsenal have been untroubled at the back but you fancy Mikel Arteta would have been hoping for a bigger half-time lead when Lacazette stroked home that early penalty.
20:22 , Malik Ouzia
36 mins: More delightful link up between Martinelli and Lacazette as the Frenchman feeds a lovely pass through for his younger teammate.
The Brazilian is onto it but the angle closes on him as he rounds the ‘keeper and Wimbledon get men back to clear his cross.
20:19 , Malik Ouzia
34 mins: Wimbledon are enjoying just about their best spell of the game here, moving it quite nicely, keeping Arsenal penned back. They’ve not been able to trouble Leno or the two centre-halves so far though.
20:16 , Malik Ouzia
30 mins: I said McCormick had been lively but a little too lively there as he dives in on Martinelli in his desperation to nick the ball back and catches him late. He’s the first man into Jarred Gillett’s notebook.
20:12 , Malik Ouzia
26 mins: It feels like a matter of when, not if, Arsenal will get a second here. Eddie Nketiah has space coming in off the left again but tries to pick out Partey rather than shoot and it’s turned behind for a corner.
20:08 , Malik Ouzia
22 mins: A terrific run down the right tells you that Martinelli is indeed fine and his clipped cross has to be taken off the head of Lacazette by Nightingale.
20:06 , Malik Ouzia
19 mins: Concern here for Arsenal with Gabriel Martinelli down after making a pretty crucial clearance in his own penalty area but the referee signals to the physios that they don’t need to come on so you presume he’s already.
Meanwhile, a huge ovation down by the corner flag tells you that Bukayo Saka has jogged out for his first warm-up of the night.
20:03 , Malik Ouzia
17 mins: Luke McCormick, socks rolled down a-la Jack Grealish (or Emile Smith Rowe in these parts, I suppose) has been the visitors’ brightest player so far - a couple of nice touches and one determined drive through midfield when he appeared to be being fouled.
19:59 , Malik Ouzia
14 mins: Lovely football from Arsenal. Partey and Maitland-Niles exchange a couple of one-touch passes in midfield before the latter threads through for Lacazette. Unselfishly, he tries to backheel into the path of Martinelli but it’s cut out.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 AFC Wimbledon | Alexandre Lacaette 11’
19:56 , Malik Ouzia
The captain for the night steps up and sends the ‘keeper the wrong way!
Easy peasy, and Arsenal have the early lead that could help make this evening a little more comfortable.
Penalty to Arsenal!
19:55 , Malik Ouzia
10 mins: Lovely ball in behind from Nketiah and Martinelli is far too quick for his man. It’s a stonewaller.
19:54 , Malik Ouzia
9 mins: Good positive play from Eddie Nketiah, who checks inside his man from the left flank and curls with his right foot.
The shot’s blocked, but you suspect he’ll be looking to do that all night.
19:53 , Malik Ouzia
7 mins: Already Thomas Partey is stamping his authority on this game, strolling around the middle of the park. A few suggestions that he specifically asked to play tonight in order to build a bit more sharpness ahead of the Tottenham game.
19:48 , Malik Ouzia
2 mins: So it looks like a pretty standard 4-3-3 for Arsenal in the early stages, with Eddie Nketiah playing right out on the left and Gabriel Martinelli on the right.
Lacazette is the central figure but will look to drop into that No10 position, too, you’d think.
19:45 , Malik Ouzia
We are underway at the Emirates...
19:42 , Malik Ouzia
The teams are on their way out. Decent noise inside the Emirates, despite it being nowehere near capacity.
That Wimbledon end is bouncing, as you’d expect.
Five minutes to go...
19:40 , Malik Ouzia
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 22, 2021
19:35 , Malik Ouzia
Arsenal Women’s star Vivianne Miedema has just been given a standing ovation and special pitchside presentation as the club and the crowd recognise her schievement in reaching a century of goals in red and white. She’s done it in 110 games. Not bad.
19:25 , Malik Ouzia
This is a really big night for players like Eddie Nketiah and Ainsley-Maitland Niles, too. Numbers-wise, Arsenal have got a squad fit to compete on multiple fronts but with no European football their fixture list is nothing like as congested as it has been for the last 20 years.
Beyond tonight, chances to impress may well be few and far between because if the Gunners go much deeper in this competition Mikel Arteta will surely have to start treating it as a genuine trophy chance, and therefore something of a priority.
19:15 , Malik Ouzia
AFC Wimbledon hve been granted a pretty large away allocation behind the goal away to our right, as is always the case in the cup competitions.
There tends to be a different atmosphere at these Carabao Cup games - cheaper tickets, plenty of young fans coming for the first time.
But for those who’ve followed Wimbledon’s rebirth through thick and thin, this is much more than just a friendly evening out - a cupset tonight would be collosal.
No Patino, Partey starts
18:59 , Malik Ouzia
Disappointment then for Arsenal fans who were hoping to get their first glimpse of Charlie Patino this evening because the 17-year-old midfielder has not even been named among the substitutes.
Thomas Partey, meanwhile, starts in midfield as the only man to keep his place from the side that started the 1-0 win over Burnley at the weekend.
AFC Wimbledon team news
18:51 , Malik Ouzia
— AFC Wimbledon (@AFCWimbledon) September 22, 2021
Arsenal team news
18:46 , Malik Ouzia
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 22, 2021
18:36 , Malik Ouzia
Right then, we should have team news from the Emirates within the next ten minutes. I’m sure the name most Arsenal fans will be looking out for on the team sheet will be that of a certain Charlie Patino...
From Chelsea tour guide to Emirates dugout
18:25 , Malik Ouzia
Dons boss Mark Robinson is out their with his players have a wander about the pitch. His story is a remarkable one, from his own career-ending injury at the age of 16 to managing in the Football League via a stint in the music industry and another as a Chelsea stadium tour guide. Oh, and he set up a children’s soft play business.
You can read all about it in this exclusive interview by Simon Collings.
18:12 , Malik Ouzia
It’s an absolutely glorious evening in north London, perhaps the last of them before the darker, colder nights to follow as we head into winter.
The AFC Wimbledon players are out on the pitch taking photos, drinking it all in.
Standard Sport prediction
17:54 , George Flood
Without European football, this competition represents one of only two realistic trophy chances for Arsenal this season and they seem likely to treat it as such.
Arsenal 3-0 AFC Wimbledon
Arsenal team news
17:45 , George Flood
Mikel Arteta is expected to rotate his Arsenal side for what is a rare opportunity to give some of his fringe players minutes tonight.
In recent seasons, the Gunners have used the Europa League group stages to rest first-team stars and blood young talent but the club failed to qualify for Europe after finishing eighth in the Premier League last season.
With a north London derby to come against Tottenham on Sunday, the Spaniard seems unlikely to risk many of the players who started Saturday’s 1-0 win at Burnley.
Young strikers Folarin Balogun and Eddie Nketiah will be hoping for chances to impress up front, but Alexandre Lacazette is also short on game time, yet to start a match this season.
Bernd Leno is likely to play in goal, having seemingly lost his Premier League place to Aaron Ramsdale after the summer signing kept successive clean sheets, against Burnley and Norwich.
Arteta also has the potential to rotate his entire back-four and central midfield, but Emile Smith Rowe may keep his place as a No10 after being substituted at Turf Moor.
Midfield starlet Charlie Patino, 17, is also expected to be involved.
Arsenal likely XI: Leno, Cedric, Holding, Mari, Tavares, Maitland-Niles, Lokonga, Smith Rowe Martinelli, Balogun, Lacazette.
How to watch Arsenal vs AFC Wimbledon
17:40 , George Flood
Arsenal vs AFC Wimbledon will not be televised live in the UK.
However, you can watch highlights of the fixture plus all the other third round contests on Quest from 10:30pm tonight.
Date, time and venue
17:35 , George Flood
Arsenal vs AFC Wimbledon is scheduled for a 7:45pm BST kick-off tonight - Wednesday, September 22, 2021.
The match will take place at Emirates Stadium, with almost 9,000 Dons fans making the short trip.
They should create some atmosphere, regardless of the scoreline.
Welcome to Arsenal vs AFC Wimbledon LIVE coverage
17:15 , George Flood
Good evening and welcome to Standard Sport’s latest live coverage of the 2021/22 Carabao Cup.
Here our focus is on events at the Emirates Stadium, where resurgent Arsenal play host to League One outfit AFC Wimbledon in an intriguing contest.
Malik Ouzia is in attendance in north London tonight, so stay tuned for match build-up, latest team news and live updates.