Calum Chambers scored with his first touch after coming on as a substitute to help Arsenal secure a 2-0 victory over Leeds in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
Just 23 seconds after replacing Ben White – who Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta revealed after the game had been struggling with illness – Chambers made an instant impact heading Nicolas Pepe’s knockback inches over the goal line despite the best efforts of goalkeeper Illan Meslier (55).
The Gunners made the game safe when former Leeds loanee Eddie Nketiah pounced on Liam Cooper’s poor defensive header before lifting the ball over the onrushing Meslier.
Nketiah, who made just two league starts in 17 appearances for Leeds during the 2019/20 season before having his loan spell cut short at Elland Road, almost fluffed his lines in front of an open goal, but his scuffed shot found the net to seal Arsenal’s spot in the quarter-finals.
The Gunners, who extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to eight games, will now wait to see who they will face in the last eight when the draw is made on Soccer AM, live on Sky Sports from 10.30am, on Saturday.
How Arsenal extended their unbeaten run to reach the Carabao Cup quarter-finals…
Arsenal started brightly and forced the first effort on goal with Gabriel Martinelli attempting to beat Meslier from an extremely tight angle, but the French goalkeeper managed to deflect the strike wide.
Despite the Gunners’ decent start, the Leeds defence was hardly tested as Marcelo Bielsa’s side grew into the match, and they created the best opportunity of the game midway through the half.
Arsenal: Leno (7), Cedric Soares (7), White (7), Holding (7), Kolasinac (6), Maitland-Niles (8), Elneny (5), Pepe (6), Smith Rowe (6), Martinelli (6), Nketiah (8).
Subs: Chambers (7), Lacazette (6), Lokonga (7), Tavares (n/a).
Leeds: Meslier (6), Drameh (6), Llorente (7), Struijk (6), Dallas (6), Phillips (7), Forshaw (7), James (6), Roberts (6), Harrison (7), Rodrigo (7).
Subs: Klich (6), Gelhardt (6), Cooper (5), Summerville (n/a), Greenwood (n/a).
Man of the match: Eddie Nketiah.
Diego Llorente’s long ball carved open the Arsenal defence, releasing Dan James in on goal. However, the Welshman’s first touch allowed the ball to get away from him and Bernd Leno was quickly off his line to gather the loose ball.
In what was an extremely open game, Leeds were having the better of the chances and Leno was forced into action again, parrying away Jack Harrison’s powerful low drive towards the near post.
Arsenal’s best chance came towards the end of the half as the ball dropped invitingly on the edge of the penalty area for Emile Smith Rowe. However, with plenty of the goal to aim at, he sliced the ball high and wide of the target.
Early in the second half, the sight of White down in the centre circle, clearly struggling, would have been of huge concern to Arteta.
Ben [White] and some others, Pablo [Mari] had a bug today, he was going to start – Ben wasn’t feeling great the second half so we decided to take him off.
The England defender managed to get back to his feet and walk off unaided, and Arsenal were taking no chances, bringing on Chambers in his place.
- Arsenal showed nine alterations with only Ben White and Emile Smith Rowe retained from Friday’s 3-1 Premier League win over Aston Villa. Bernd Leno returned in goal and there were rare starts for the likes of Sead Kolasinac, Mohamed Elneny and Eddie Nketiah.
- Kalvin Phillips returned to the Leeds side as one of four changes for their fourth-round clash at Arsenal. The England midfielder has been sidelined with a calf problem but came into the team at the Emirates Stadium, with Adam Forshaw, Tyler Roberts and debutant Cody Dramah also starting.
And change brought instant reward for Arsenal as Chambers popped up to head Pepe’s header back across goal home. Meslier tried his best to keep the ball out but referee Andre Marriner, with the help of technology, eventually awarded the goal.
Then came Nketiah’s moment against the club he spent half a season on loan with.
The Gunners striker pounced on Cooper’s poor headed back pass and he flicked the ball over Meslier before providing somewhat of a scuffed finish from close range to seal the north London club’s passage into the last eight.
What the managers said…
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “I think a really good performances overall against a team whose manager demands them to be so committed in every single action. We played well and understood the game and executed it in the right way.
“They gave us some issues, they always do, because every time you lose a duel you can be one vs one, the way they play! We adjusted a few things at half-time and we got better and stronger.”
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa: “The first half we had an intensity that we couldn’t continue in the second half.
“When you miss chances, it always gives the feeling to the opponent that they can alter the result themselves.”
Man of the match Eddie Nketiah: ‘I’ve waited for my opportunity’
Arsenal goalscorer Eddie Nketiah to Sky Sports: “It’s always nice to play, it’s been a while, I have been working hard, waiting for my opportunity. The most important thing was to get through.
“We are on a good run at the moment, we push each other every day in training and results come in a match, the manager picks the 11 and ultimately we just work hard in training.”
When is the draw for the Carabao Cup quarter-finals?
The quarter-final draw will take place live on Soccer AM this Saturday from 10.30am
Hosts Fenners and Jimmy Bullard will be conducting the draw, which will be live on Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Football, Soccer AM’s YouTube channel and the EFL’s Twitter account.
Carabao Cup 2021/22 schedule…
- Fourth round: October 27
- Quarter-finals: December 21 and 22
- Semi-finals: January 4/5 and 11/12
- Final: February 27
What’s next for Arsenal and Leeds?
Arsenal are back in Premier League action on Saturday when they face a trip to Leicester City; kick-off 12.30pm.
Meanwhile, Leeds next assignment is also in the Premier League against Norwich City at Carrow Road, live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 2pm.