Albert Sambi Lokonga continues bright start to life at Arsenal by excelling against Norwich

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Football is all about taking your chances and right now Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga is seizing his opportunity.

Granit Xhaka’s red card against Manchester City last month earned him a three-match suspension - the first of which was served against Norwich on Saturday - and it has presented Lokonga with the chance to shine.

So far, the 21-year-old has taken that with both hands and he impressed during Arsenal’s 1-0 win over the Canaries.

Without Thomas Partey not fit enough to start, Lokonga was charged with running the midfield and stepped up to the plate.

Little was known about the Belgian when he joined from Anderlecht this summer, but the early signs are very promising.

“Sambi came in from Belgium with a tight hamstring and only trained half a day,” revealed Mikel Arteta after Arsenal’s win on Saturday.

“The way we wanted to play, we didn’t have options because players were injured or suspended in midfield and we were really short because Emile wasn’t available to play either.

“[Sambi] made a big effort to play here and that is one of the reasons when I tell you how much these boys want to do it and nobody is hiding in difficult moments, they just want to get over the line and he showed a good example.”

Bar Nuno Tavares, and perhaps Takehiro Tomiyasu, Lokonga was the least known of Arsenal’s summer signings.

The club shelled out around £15m to sign him from Anderlecht and the noises from Belgium is that the Gunners had signed a player with talent, but he was also a youngster that needed time to settle.

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

So far, Lokonga has shrugged off any fears he may take time to get up to speed and he looks ready-made for the Premier League. He is athletic and strong, but his composure and ability on the ball is what makes him stand out.

His talent was telling on Saturday as he outshone Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who was playing alongside him.

Maitland-Niles has long desired to play in midfield for Arsenal, but handed the chance by Arteta he was unable to seize the moment. Instead, the England international was in the shadow of Lokonga.

It is early days for Lokonga, and Arteta will be wary about protecting a player who is still only 21, but so far the Belgian is passing every test.

Xhaka is suspended for two more games - Burnley away and then the north London derby. Should Lokonga pass those examinations, then Arsenal fans really can start to get excited.

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