Will he stay or will he go?

Could Arsenal’s second eleven beat the EFL team?

But the real question of this match was: will Eddie Nketiah stay at Arsenal?

Eddie Nketiah: Master if the six yard box

He did his personal chances of wanting to play more first team football no harm by scoring a hat-trick.

When asked directly whether he wanted to stay at Arsenal, he didn’t deny turning a contract down. “I’m eager to play football.”

Mikel Arteta said: “We want Nketiah to stay. He is an important part of the squad.” But the chances favour him leaving at the moment – highlighting the striking dilemma Arteta has.

On the performance, Sunderland’s neat build up play exposed Arsenal’s defence on occasion.

But Premiership class told in the second half.

There were only two survivors from the previous starters.

HoldingCedric and Tavares were at the back; Elneny as the holding player, Smith Rowe and Odegaard in midfield with Nketiah, Pepe and Balogun up front. Arsenal had a strong bench along with teenage prodigy Charlie Patino.

In the first ten, Sunderland showed some attacking intent. Stewart got ahead of Elneny and wrapped his leg around the Egyptian like a mummy – to but a foul. The danger was cleared,

Tavares and Smith Rowe llnked up with attacking intent and the Portuguese’s shot deflected on to the bar.

With Arsenal’s mounting pressure, Holding got above the Sunderland defence with a header saved by Burge – but the ball rebounded to Nketiah who kneed it home. A goal in the Francis Jeffers mould.

Cedric crossed but Balogun missed his header. And then shot straight at Burge following two quick one-twos. He needs game time and is likely to go out on loan in January.

Pepe and Cedric performed a neat one two with the Portuguese drawing defenders and Pepe’s shot deflecting off Man City loanee Doyle and into the net.

But Sunderland were putting in a gutsy performance and a neat build up from Sunderland ‘s Neil saw ex-Spurs player Pritchard set up an attack with Embleton’s pass putting Broadhead through, beating Leno with a one on one.

The goal gave Sunderland confidence, and they started several dangerous attacks.

Odegaard set up Balogun who found Tavares whose cross was met by Nketiah running in to make it nine goals in nine League Cup appearances.

Embleton cut in and drove a curled shot against the post with Leno beaten. It triggered a change with Xhaka shoring up the midfield in the place of the booked Balogun who had a disappointing outing.

Odegaard sent a ball which cut out the Sunderland defence to Pepe who nutmegged Hume and sent a low cross to Nketiah who backheeled a second into the net.

Patino came on for his first team debut and to his own terrace song.

Xhaka found Pepe with a looped pass who performed a nutmeg and sent in a low cross for Patino to steer it past Burge.

Eddie said: “It was great feeling. Thanks for my team-mates – there were some good assists today. You can’t beat interaction in the stadium.

“We started a bit sloppy.  We could have played better in first but improved in the second.”

Carabao Cup: Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1

Arsenal:  1Leno, 17Cédric Soares, 16Holding, 4White, 20Tavares, 25Elneny, 8Ødegaard, 19Pépé, 10Smith Rowe, 30Nketiah, 26Balogun

Sunderland:1Burge, 26Wright, 3Flanagan, 6Doyle, 15Winchester, 8Embleton, 24Neil, 11Gooch, 21Pritchard, 14Stewart, 9Broadhead