Arsenal romped into the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening to hand Mikel Arteta his first win of the new season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang starred on his return to the starting XI by bagging a hat-trick against a young West Bromwich Albion side at the Hawthorns. He scored two first-half tap-ins and capped off the night with a superb curling effort in the second half.
The Gabon international also provided an impressive assist for Nicolas Pepe’s strike – the Gunners’ third goal.
As a result, he will take plenty of the plaudits and quite deservedly so as the side have missed his presence in attack and even though it was against a weak Championship lineup, the win will help boost morale amongst the dressing room after back-to-back league defeats.
However, one of the biggest takeaways from the match was the performance of Sead Kolasinac, who made his first appearance for the north Londoners since returning from a disastrous loan spell at relegated German outfit Schalke 04 last season.
Arteta surprisingly deployed the Bosnian at centre-back, playing him alongside Rob Holding, and he excelled in the role.
And with uncertainty over Ben White’s availability and the calamitous showing from Pablo Mari against Chelsea at the weekend, it now gives the young Spanish head coach plenty to ponder heading into a massive game against the defending champions Manchester City on Saturday afternoon.
The home side may have not dominated possession like Arsenal, who recorded a share of 75% over the 90 minutes, but they did still have 11 attempts at goal, meaning the 28-year-old was called into action.
Furthermore, he won 100% of aerial duels, showing the physical ability to battle with the opposition’s striker despite only being 6-foot tall, as well as recording two clearances and an impressive 95% passing accuracy, via SofaScore.
His performance caught the eye of many supporters, too.
“For what it’s worth, Kolasinac has looked pretty sharp as a LCB. More faith in him than Mari,” claimed one fan. Whilst another added: “Kolasinac did nothing wrong tonight,” as relayed by The Boot Room.
It remains to be seen whether the £5.85m-rated flop will stick around at the Emirates Stadium past deadline day next Tuesday amid reports his contract could be cancelled, but this performance would have done him no harm whatsoever.
If anything, it leaves Arteta with a major selection headache. His defence has looked a shambles in the Premier League, so he may well be tempted to unleash the £100k-per-week defender this weekend.