This was a refreshing night for Arsenal as an unfamiliar line-up laid on entertainment in this Capital One Cup tie. The victors relished the occasion by racking up a 6-1 win and the manager, Arsène Wenger, can be glad, too, that Olivier Giroud notched his first goal since the summer move from Montpellier.

In a merry game the Coventry City substitute Callum Ball had cut the deficit to 4-1 in the 78th minute with a header. The indignant hosts replied through Ignasi Miquel. Theo Walcott then insisted on taking his second goal with a finish from the left. It was a cheerful event and the visitors can still take pride in the account they gave of themselves.

The recently appointed Coventry manager, Mark Robins, wanted to please some 8,000 of his club's followers rather than have his men skulk in their own half. It was Arsenal, of course, who relished the match. There was particular satisfaction over those Walcott goals, although the unease continues as to whether he might leave the club as a free agent next summer.

"You have to give us time to sort it out," said Wenger. "We are always in touch with Theo's representatives." The manager also knows, though, that a range of resources is apparent. "I expect Giroud to take that into the Premier League," he observed of his new striker's finish.

Change was in the air. Arsenal's 19-year-old Nico Yennaris had, for instance, been the club's mascot when the team faced Coventry in 2000. This was just his second start under Wenger. The goalkeeper Damián Martínez and defender Martin Angha made their Arsenal debuts. Even so, it was the experience of Andrey Arshavin that was particularly prominent.

Arsenal's opener did not come until six minutes from half-time. The slight imperfections were still present as the key pass was partly a tackle by Francis Coquelin. Giroud then tucked the ball smoothly into the net. This game mattered to him and to Arsenal, irrespective of the unfamiliar team selection.

Wenger's men were eager, yet the final ball tended to elude the attackers during the first half. The Coventry goalkeeper Joe Murphy seldom needed to show off his acrobatic expertise, even if he had been beaten once by half-time. This was a stimulating match for the visitors, even though they lie second from bottom in League One.

They have made more of an impression in this tournament, but the team had not been involved in giant-killing. Slaying Arsenal was an implausible task but the Coventry side did at least contain some ballast in the inclusion of a seasoned figure such as Gary McSheffrey.

Coventry had to survive a penalty early in the second half after Reece Brown had barged into the back of Arshavin. Once two semi-clad streakers, both retaining their underpants, had been marched away Murphy leapt to his right and saved the spot-kick from Giroud.

The match was more engrossing for a crowd given at a remarkable 58,351. They were happier still when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put a 20-yarder past the left hand of Murphy to extend the lead in the 57th minute.

This was a satisfying occasion in its way. Coventry took pride in themselves and did not seem to feel that they were out of their depth. All the same there was a fervour to Arsenal.

Arshavin relished his goal after taking a pass from Giroud in the 63rd minute. Only at that relatively late stage did Coventry start to look downhearted but even then they still went forward out of defiance. The visitors suffered for that when Walcott went clear for Arsenal's fourth and the first of his brace.

For the victors there must now be confidence flooding through them. It has already been a sound beginning to the campaign. If this sort of relish and impact is to continue, Walcott may find cause to stay where he is.