Calum Chambers and Eddie Nketiah, somewhat forgotten players, bagged the goals that drove Arsenal to the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup.
Bet Eddie was pleased he didn’t enter the goals gaffe listing when he shinned the ball into an open goal.
The squad looked in good spirits – with players clearly enjoying their runouts.
There were nine changes from Villa with White and Smith Rowe the survivors.
Holding, Cedric and Kolasinac, partnered the ex-Leeds loanee White, Elneny came into midfield with Maitland Niles. Martinelli and Pepe joining Smith Rowe, behind Nketiah up front. Arteta needed to give current fringe players a game; and a good opportunity for them to force their way into first team reckoning. What will happen if they draw Chelsea or Liverpool is anyone’s guess.
Martinelli and Pepe couldn’t get behind the Leeds backline. Arsenal didn’t look like scoring in the first half. Their attacks were sporadic and fragmented. Leeds looked threatening and James should have scored.
Leeds had a majority Premiership side. Drameh was given a debut – Phillips was back.
Nketiah active in first five with a cross and a shot. Maitland Niles showed great pace beating Lorente given a five-yard start.
But Leeds had the better chances in the first half. James should have scored, but his control let him down. Harrison shot on target – saved by Leno low down. And James had another shot – saved by the German. Roberts shot wide from a breakaway.
Smith Rowe had a chance from a miss-kick by Pepe – but he volleyed wide.
After half time, Forshaw went off for Leeds and Klich came on.
Arsenal started with more purpose and intensity. The played higher up the pitch.
They say never change players on a corner. But Chambers replaced the struggling White. Nketiah flicked Smith Rowe’s effort towards the back post. Pepe headed it across the goal and Chambers headed it down – past the goal-line. It was Chambers’ first goal in two years. And he ran to set piece coach Nicolas Jover who predicted he would score straight away after coming on.
A Leno goal kick resulted in a bout of head tennis – heading towards Meslier’s goal. Nketiah nipped in round the French goalkeeper from Cooper back header and shinned the bouncing ball into the net. He deserved his luck.
Lacazette and Lokonga came on for Elneny and Smith Rowe on 71 – with game management in mind. Tavares came on for the injured Holding.
Lacazette maybe should have scored after stealing the ball off Philipps but fired over the bar.
Mikel Arteta said of Nketiah: “I have full belief that he is going to be a top, top player and hopefully at Arsenal. I’m happy to have him, he is our player, I regard him really highly and from my side I want him to stay.”
“We had a situation in the summer that we tried to resolve and we couldn’t either way. That contract situation is more and more common in football where we are coming from with Covid and a lot of the issues that we have to resolve.
“I have no doubts what he can offer. Whatever you throw at him, he wants more and he demands himself more. I’m delighted to see his performance. He totally deserved it. He has other players who play in that position and he has a personal situation but I try to leave that aside.”
Carabou Cup: Arsenal 2 Leeds 0
Arsenal: 1Leno, 17Cédric Soares (Booked at 59mins), 4White (Substituted for Chamber sat 55’minutes), 16Holding (Substituted for Varela Tavares at 76’minutes), 31Kolasinac, 25Elneny (Substituted forSambi Lokonga at 72’minutes), 15Maitland-Niles, 19Pépé, 10Smith Rowe (Substituted for Lacazetteat 72’minutes), 35Martinelli, 30Nketiah
Leeds: 1Meslier, 37Drameh, 14Llorente (Substituted for Cooper at 59’minutes), 21Struijk, 15Dallas, 23Phillips, 4Forshaw (Substituted for Klich at 45’minutes), 22Harrison, 11Roberts (Booked at 23mins, Substituted for Gelhardt at 53’minutes), 20James (Substituted for Summerville at 70’minutes), 19Rodrigo (Substituted for Greenwood at 70’minutes)