Forest’s fall from grace meant these two icons of English football had not faced each other since 1999. Last night was the 12th anniversary of Brian Clough’s death — an occasion marked by the Forest fans with a minute’s applause in the 12th minute.
Wenger, aware of the potential for embarrassment, went against his usual approach to the League Cup. The Frenchman started with a strong XI which included Xhaka, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mohamed Elneny and Kieran Gibbs, who captained his side.
There was also a place for central defender Gabriel, who was making his first appearance of the season after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in pre-season.
Arsenal didn’t seem up for it — until the 23rd minute when Xhaka scored his second long-range thunderbolt in four days.
There looked little danger when the Switzerland midfielder picked up the ball 30 yards out, but his effort took a hefty deflection off Chris Cohen before being parried into the net by Forest keeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
Bendtner tried and failed to equalise just after the restart but fired hopelessly wide from a tight angle.
On the hour mark, Lucas cooly slotted home from the spot for his first goal for the club since arriving from Deportivo La Coruna for £17m last month, after Chuba Akpom was clumsily fouled Michael Mancienne.
And Lucas doubled his tally in the 71st minute with an excellent solo effort that started with a dazzling run from the left touchline before firing into an empty net.
Oxlade-Chamberlain completed the comfortable victory with a fourth in stoppage time.