Arsenal won the EFL Cup 2-0 against Leeds United on Tuesday, with goals from Chambers and Nketiah securing victory and a place in the quarter-finals.
Mikel Arteta made several changes from his team’s recent triumph over Aston Villa, citing the need for rest after three games in eight days, including a Premier League match against Leicester on Saturday lunchtime.
Bernd Leno returned to goal and Rob Holding to defence, while Cedric Soares made his second appearance in the competition at right-back.
Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe were both given starts in the wide areas, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles starting in midfield for the first time since his AFC Wimbledon appearance in the EFL Cup.
Arsenal opened with purpose like they had done just a few days before in this stadium, with the three pacey forwards looking turned on.
That didn’t create much of a danger, as Kolasinac was denied by Meslier with the sole shot on target in the first half. Arsenal would have been behind and Leeds would have missed some chances if it hadn’t been for Leno.
The goal came from a set-piece, and it was scored by Chambers, who had only been on for a few seconds after replacing White.
Nketiah superbly seized on Cooper’s poor header back with a delightful chip and some excellent control, before a terrible botched finish almost ruined it.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – 7/10 – Leno’s deliveries are a big step down from Ramsdale’s (he probably not helped by the first pass of the night going straight out of play) but when the ball was fizzed at him he made a couple of strong saves. Kept Arsenal in it.
Cedric Soares (RB) – 6/10 – Very reserved in this game and often was asked to be the third central defender. Didn’t provide Pepe with much support but after the break got forward with much more intent and added an option in behind.
Ben White (CB) – 8/10 – Oozed class. Looked completely at ease against one of his old clubs in and out of possession, with the moments on the ball brilliant carries into space whenever the pockets to feed weren’t there. Top drawer.
This injury is a big one.
Rob Holding (CB) – 7/10 – No points for guessing who he’s been watching in training. Some uncharacteristic charges out of defence with the ball at feet, it looked like Holding was trying to show the manager what he could do.
On the wrong side of the defence, he put in one of his usual ‘good central defender’ shifts.
Sead Kolasinac (LB) – 6/10 – Wins every ball in the air. Probably deserves mention. Otherwise, the Bosnian wasn’t atrocious by any means but didn’t provide Martinelli with enough.
Ended up at centre-back. How Carabao Cup is that?
Mohamed Elneny (CM) – 6/10 – If anyone wanted to know why Elneny doesn’t pass forwards they need only watch this game back.
He made a couple of interceptions, it’s just not good for him finding himself in a transition game where the midfield was left to him to handle, which was the case in the first half.
Was fine after the break.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (CM) – 7/10 – The best player on the pitch for Arsenal other than White before his substitution, with Maitland-Niles both energetic and engaged in the middle of the park. He managed transitions well and showed some clever reading of the play to break up moves and try to kick start others.
Emile Smith Rowe (AM) – 6/10 – Added legs in the middle of the park but was hindered by the lack of running in behind. Too often the front three were so disconnected and asking for the ball to feet, limiting his options.
Nicolas Pepe (RW) – 5/10 – One of ‘those’ nights. Unbelievably predictable in possession and while he may have had the bit between his teeth, the ball struggled to stay between his feet.
He needed to make an impact on Tuesday, and while he did, it was not a positive one. But, in fairness, his defensive work in the second half was solid enough, so he avoids a really low score.
Eddie Nketiah (ST) – 6/10 – Called for the ball to feet very often which would work as a plan if the rest of the team worked to accompany that. There weren’t enough runs in beyond or behind.
When he did get the ball Nketiah constantly tried to work Pascal Struijk, yet the link up with his fellow forwards was lacking, something that improved after the break as he ran all game. When his chance did come he took it half brilliantly, and half fortuitously: super first touches and a near horror second. It’s the goal that matters though.
Gabriel Martinelli (LW) – 5/10 – On a big night for Martinelli, he came up short. Often left to make things happen on his own was distances too long, his efforts to come inside and work play, sometimes swapping position with Nketiah, failed to hit the mark.
Guilty of trying too hard? Perhaps. And even if he looked sharper as the game wore on, it wasn’t the impact he would have wanted.
Calum Chambers – 7/10 – Scored with his first touch, not just since coming on, but since August. You could see what it meant for him and his teammates.
Alexandre Lacazette – 6/10 – Got stuck in with a few lovely touches that brought some calm to the team.
Albert Sambi Lokonga – 6/10 – With Arsenal relinquishing much of possession it became more of a positional game for Sambi than anything.
Nuno Tavares – N/A – Replaced Holding but wasn’t on the pitch long enough for a rating.