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21/22 First Team League Cup Match Reports

Arsenal 2-0 Leeds United: League Cup – 26/10/2021

While the League Cup may not rank very high on the list of priorities for Arsenal fans this season, for Mikel Arteta and his team, it will be a chance to really prove some doubters wrong. Of the three competitions Arsenal compete in this season, in lieu of any European football, this and the FA Cup are perhaps Arsenal’s best and most realistic chances of silverware this season.

Following their spectacular performance over Aston Villa on Friday night, Mikel Arteta made 9 changes to the side that won 3-1, with only Ben White and Emile Smith Rowe remaining in the team.

Arsenal didn’t start with the same blistering pace that had Aston Villa on the ropes last Friday, Leeds were the much better-attacking side, creating (and wasting) chances left, right and centre. Arsenal created some chances for themselves, but most went begging with them barely able to lay a finger on Leeds.

Calum Chambers, Sead Kolašinac, Mikel Arteta and Alexandre Lacazette celebrate the opener.

The second half was an utter role reversal. Arsenal were firmly in the driver’s seat for the majority of the half and never really seemed threatened by Leeds.

An injury to Ben White meant that Calum Chambers was swapped in in his absence and with his best Nicklas Bendtner impression, the defender latched onto the end of Nicolas Pépé’s headed cross to give Arsenal the lead, after a worryingly long look at the goal-line technology.

Soon after that it was the spectre of Eddie Nketiah who rose to break havoc on his former-loan club. A looped ball through that was poorly headed back to Ilan Meslier allowed Nketiah to bounce the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper and with a somewhat clumsy finish he placed both it and Arsenal into the next round of the League Cup.

It was hardly a vintage Arsenal performance, but the drop-off in performance was expected, especially after making 9 changes to the team, but there were some worrying performances, most notably from Mohamed Elneny, Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pépé, all three of which showed why they aren’t starting many games in the Premier League right now.

Eddie Nketiah rounds the evening off nicely.

The performance seemed to show the growing influence of Arsenal’s new set-piece coach, Nicolas Jover – who joined from Manchester City in the summer following the departure of Andreas Georgson. Though Leeds looked utterly woeful in their defence of Arsenal’s corners and free-kicks, there is something to be said for the way that Arsenal are handling them at the moment. Thomas Partey’s goal against Aston Villa, the opening goal at home to Crystal Palace and the game’s opening goal last night are all a result of the work being out into attacking set-pieces.

Arsenal are comfortably through to the next round, but their next test is the more important one – away to Leicester City, can Arsenal keep their good form going?

Arsenal team:
 1.) Bernd Leno
17.) Cédric Soares
  4.) Ben White (Chambers 55’)
16.) Rob Holding (c) (Tavares 76’)
31.) Sead Kolašinac
25.) Mohamed Elneny (Lokonga 72’)
15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles
19.) Nicolas Pépé
10.) Emile Smith Rowe (Lacazette 72’)
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
30.) Eddie Nketiah

Arsenal subs:
32.) Aaron Ramsdale
21.) Calum Chambers
20.) Nuno Tavares
  5.) Thomas Partey
23.) Albert Sambi Lokonga
  7.) Bukayo Saka
65.) Salah Eddine Oulad M’Hand
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette
26.) Folarian Balogun

Leeds United team:
  1.) Ilan Meslier
37.) Cody Drameh
14.) Diego Llorente (Cooper 59’)
21.) Pascal Struijk
15.) Cameron Dallas
23.) Kalvin Phillips
  4.) Adam Forshaw (Klich 45’)
23.) Jack Harrison
11.) Tyler Roberts (Gelhardt 53’)
20.) Daniel James (Summerville 70’)
19.) Rodrigo (Greenwood 70’)

Leeds United subs:
13.) Kristoffer Klaesson
  6.) Liam Cooper
33.) Leo Hjelde
35.) Charlie Cresswell
38.) Crysencio Summerville
43.) Mateusz Klich
39.) Stuart McKinstry
42.) Sam Greenwood
30.) Joe Gelhardt

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