Leicester 0-2 Arsenal: Christian Fuchs own goal and late strike from Eddie Nketiah send Mikel Arteta’s side through to Carabao Cup fourth round
- Arsenal progressed to the fourth-round of the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 victory over Leicester
- Nicholas Pepe forced an own goal from Christian Fuchs’ in the 57th minute to put the Gunners ahead
- Eddie Nketiah ensured victory for Mikel Arteta’s side after striking in the 90th minute to make it 2-0
It has been 27 years since Arsenal won this tournament which has been a showpiece for their next generation though the young ones look more like winners now.
Last year they succumbed in a 5-5 draw at Anfield though this side was a more muscular, less vulnerable than that, and in possession of Bukaya Saka, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah – all a year older and now a serious attacking threat.
Brendan Rodgers made wholesale changes. Eight of his 11 had not featured at all this season. But with Mikel Arteta intent on assigning the tournament more significance, Willian arriving late on from the bench, this side could be the one to watch.
Arsenal are through to the fourth-round of the Carabao Cup after beating Leicester 2-0 at the Kingpower on Wednesday
Arsenal took the lead when Christian Fuchs deflected the ball into his own net after Nicolas Pepe’s effort had hit the post
Eddie Nketiah’s late strike ensured victory for Mikel Arteta’s side after the forward stumbled through to fire past Danny Ward
Leicester (4-2-3-1): Ward; Amartey; Morgan; Fuchs; Albrighton; Choudry; Dewsbury-Hall (Perez 76); Thomas; Gray; Maddison (Praet 72); Iheanacho
Subs not used: Jakupovic; Knight; Justin; Tielemens; Barnes;
Arsenal (3-5-2): Leno; Holding; Luiz; Kolasinac; Maitland-Niles; Elneny; Willock (Ceballos); Saka (Bellerin 87); Pepe; Nelson (Willian 72); Nketiah
Subs not used: Runarsson; Saliba; Xhaka; Lacazette
Scorers: Fuchs (OG 57); Nketiah (90)
The individual struggling to make any impact was one Arsenal had far greater hopes of a year back. A song about the then new £72m record signing Nicolas Pepe – ‘super Nicky Pepe’ – was ringing out from the St James Park away end from the minute he began his career at the club as a 70th-minute substitute. But he has struggled to make any kind of headway, with five league goals in 22 appearances.
It was more desperation than inspiration which saw him help break the dead-lock, three minutes before the hour mark. Saka stole possession from Christian Fuchs and located the Frenchman who accelerated past Luke Thomas and into the box. His shot was pummelled away by Ward but Pepe struck the rebound which cannoned in off the unfortunate Fuchs. Morgan and Wes Morgan were both slow to respond to the threat.
For Reiss Nelson, the first half demonstrated the brutally slim margins between glory and obscurity in football. Mikel Arteta has done nothing to dispel the suggestion that the 20-year-old, who burst onto the scene in Arsene Wenger’s last season, might be sold and after 45 minutes which looked like him proving a point, two chances to score came and went.
The first, blocked by Danny Ward, was acceptable. The second, screwed wide from space in the box, may haunt him in the weeks to come, though his endeavour and imagination deserved better fortune. Nelson operated across the full face of Leicester’s box, socks around his calves, and drew a superb fingertip save from Ward in the game’s fifth minute.
He was a creator too, though somehow Pepe and Eddie Nketiah couldn’t latch onto the ball he measured across the six-yard box. This profligacy was frustrating for Arteta though it was a first half full of promise for Arsenal’s hopes that their academy will provide a face for the future.
Bukaya Saka picked up where he had left off in his sparkling Community Shield performance against Liverpool, glittering on the same left flank that Nelson was positioned and making life difficult for Marc Albrighton. The 19-year-old had a good penalty call turned down.
Leicester were on the back foot in that half. But James Maddison, back after three months with a hip injury, revealed the difference between potential and pedigree. He’d been the creative fulcrum for Leicester when, five minutes before the interval, he manoeuvred his way into space, ran at five Arsenal defenders and arced a shot from the left hand side of the penalty area which struck the post.
Arsenal almost extended their lead when Nketiah’s brilliant lob was headed off the line by Morgan. And though Leicester should have equalised when Ayoze Perez headed Marc Albrighton’s free-kick wide, Arsenal sealed their progress at the death when substitute Hector Bellerin powered into the box and found Nketiah, who scrambled the ball home.
Nketiah beamed and Arteta punched the night air. More signs that he is leading this club to more promising ground.
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