Forgotten men Calum Chambers and Eddie Nketiah fire Arsenal into League Cup quarter-finals

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Eddie Nketiah celebrates Arsenal's second goal against Leeds - GETTY IMAGES
Eddie Nketiah celebrates Arsenal's second goal against Leeds - GETTY IMAGES
  • Calum Chambers scores from a corner 23 seconds after coming on as an injury replacement

  • Former Leeds forward Eddie Nketiah adds a second from close range after rounding Illan Meslier

  • Arsenal now unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions

The last time Calum Chambers was seen on a football pitch, Arsenal were spiralling towards an early-season crisis and Mikel Arteta was under considerable pressure in the dugout. That was in their 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City in August, and Chambers has since had to watch from the sidelines as his team-mates have rediscovered their form.

How satisfying it must have been, then, for Chambers to score Arsenal’s opening goal with his first touch of the ball in this League Cup meeting with Leeds United. Introduced as a substitute just a few seconds earlier, he surprised the visitors by materialising at the back post and sending Arsenal on their way to another victory.

The mood around this team, and indeed Arteta, has transformed completely since those dark days in August, with Arsenal now unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions. They were more clinical than Leeds at the Emirates, where Eddie Nketiah added a second against a Marcelo Bielsa team which continues to look off the pace.

A run of one win in nine league matches is a source of considerable concern for Leeds, who played well in the first half here but were too open for too much of the second period. Arsenal capitalised, despite their weakened team, and the frustration was etched all over Bielsa’s face on the touchline.

Nketiah watches his shot roll in - just - from close range  - GETTY IMAGES
Nketiah watches his shot roll in - just - from close range - GETTY IMAGES

For Arsenal this was a night to maintain the momentum they have built in recent weeks, and for some of the fringe players to make a point to their manager. Chambers certainly did that, changing the game after replacing the unwell Ben White at the start of the second half, and there was a clear sense of personal and collective joy as he celebrated his goal with his coaches and team-mates.

“I am so happy for Calum,” said Arteta. “He totally deserved it. You see the reaction of his team-mates, who spend time with him every single day. It was genuine emotion for him because it has been tough for him and they like him as a person. There were three different coaches and a player who told him he was going to score.”

There would have been similar relief for Nketiah, the other goalscorer, as he fights for more minutes following the breakdown of his move to Crystal Palace this summer. Nketiah’s contract expires at the end of this season and Arteta said he wants the striker to stay at the club. “I have full belief that he is going to be a top, top player and hopefully at Arsenal”, said the Arsenal manager.

Calum Chambers header creapt over the line despite the efforts of Leeds keeper Meslier - ACTION IMAGES
Calum Chambers header creapt over the line despite the efforts of Leeds keeper Meslier - ACTION IMAGES

Arsenal had missed a handful of first-half opportunities before the goals but on the overall balance of play it was Leeds who created the better openings before the break. Bielsa’s side had plenty of space on the counter-attack, where Daniel James and Jack Harrison showed their pace, and both wingers tested Bernd Leno between the Arsenal posts after corners had only been half-cleared.

If James had been more aware of the overlapping run of Rodrigo Moreno, Leeds might easily have been ahead by the half-time whistle. They also threatened through Tyler Roberts and generally looked a more cohesive unit, which was perhaps to be expected given that Bielsa only made four changes to his side.

A knock to White presented Chambers with his unexpected opportunity shortly after half-time, and within seconds he had scored the opener. Emile Smith Rowe’s corner reached the back post, where Nicolas Pepe headed it back across the box. There was Chambers, lurking like an old-school poacher and powering his header over the line.

A few minutes later it was two, as Liam Cooper’s header left Meslier short and allowed Nketiah, who once had a loan spell at Leeds, to score a simple tap-in. The Arsenal striker almost made a mess of it, stumbling as he struck the ball, but his finish just about squirmed over the line.

Match details

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno 7; Cedric 6, White 7 (Chambers 55), Holding 7 (Tavares 76), Kolasinac 6; Elneny 6 (Lokonga 72), Maitland-Niles 7; Pepe 6 Smith Rowe 7 (Lacazette 72), Martinelli 7; Nketiah 7
Subs: Ramsdale (g), Partey, Saka, Balogun, Oulad M’Hand Booked: Cedric

Leeds (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Drameh, Llorente 6 (Cooper 59), Struijk, Dallas; Phillips; Harrison, Forshaw 6 (Klich 45), Roberts 5 (Gelhardt 53), James (Summerville 70); Rodrigo (Greenwood 70)
Subs: Klaesson (g), Hjelde, Cresswell, McKinstry Booked: Roberts

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)

Arsenal 2 Leeds 0: How much unfolded

08:37 PM

FT Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

Not a spectacular game by any measure but Arsenal get the job done, weathering first-half pressure from Leeds before getting the breakthrough from sub Chambers just 23 seconds after coming on and then fellow forgotten man - and ex Leeds player - Nketiah made sure with a close range finish.

08:34 PM

90 mins+2 Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

Couple of minutes left of this one now. Arsenal can start to turn their attentions to Leicester City away on Saturday lunchtime

08:32 PM

90 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

Arsenal are four minutes away from the League Cup quarter-finals

08:31 PM

89 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

Phillips probably might have wanted to be off the pitch by now actually. He is easily robbed of possession by Lacazette, the Arsenal man then shrugs off the attentions of the covering Cooper but lashes his shot wide when the goal opens up.

08:30 PM

88 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

Next up for Leeds is a big game for against Norwich in the Premier League on Sunday. Plenty for Bielsa to ponder from tonight but at least the welcome return of some of the troops, including Phillips who is set for the full 90 minutes.

08:27 PM

86 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

Little urgency from either side suggests both sense this game is done.

08:25 PM

82 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

Better from the Leeds subs as Gelhardt and Greenwood try and make themselves busy in the box. The latter works himself some space on the right but his low cross is easily gathered low down by Leno.

08:22 PM

79 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

And that... sums up Leeds since the break. Phillips, under little pressure, proceeds to pass straight out on the far touchline.

08:20 PM

78 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

Safe to say this has not been Leeds half. Even ignoring those two goals, they never got going since the break, which will disappoint Bielsa. The substitutes have (yet) to work either.

08:18 PM

76 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

Holding is unable to continue so on trots Varela Tavares, with Kolasinac slotting back into central defence alongside Chambers.

08:17 PM

75 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

As Holding receives treatment, presumably for cramp, here's a look at how Nketiah nearly managed to mess up in front of an open goal....

08:15 PM

72 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

Arsenal also ringing the changes as Sambi Lokonga and Lacazette come on for Elneny and Smith Rowe respectively.

08:14 PM

70 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

Leeds, stung by that goal from their former player, respond by bringing on Summerville and Greenwood (an ex Gunner himself) for James and Rodrigo.

You'd have to say this will take something very special indeed if Leeds were to turn things around.

08:12 PM

69 mins Arsenal 2 Leeds 0

A catalogue of errors from the Leeds defence as first Drameh and then Cooper cannot deal with a long punt forward from Leno, the latter's header falling woefully short of Meslier.

To make matters worse Nketiah is lurking, he rounds Meslier and eventually gets the ball across the line - although there was a second when the whole of the Emirates thought he had just signed up for miss of the season.

08:10 PM

GOAL!

Arsenal 2 (Nketiah 69 mins) Leeds 0

08:10 PM

67 mins Arsenal 1 Leeds 0

Subsitute Gelhardt is feeding off scraps up front for Leeds at the minute.

James, much quieter since the break, sees his shot blocked before Harrison follows up with an effort saved by Leno.

Leeds preparing more subs

08:08 PM

66 mins Arsenal 1 Leeds 0

A reinvigorated Pepe, running down the right-hand side, tries to slide in Smith Rowe but his defence splitting pass has a touch too much on it.

08:06 PM

64 mins Arsenal 1 Leeds 0

The stats are saying Leeds are still up at over 60 per cent possession but Leno has been a virtual spectator since the break.

08:05 PM

62 mins Arsenal 1 Leeds 0

Leeds a bit rattled still by that goal. Marcelo Bielsa is almost on the pitch gesturing wildly as Phillips loses possession in midfield and Arsenal almost get an opening through Pepe.

08:02 PM

60 mins Arsenal 1 Leeds 0

Somewhat subdued before, the Arsenal fans have definitely found their voice now.

And here's why...

08:00 PM

59 mins Arsenal 1 Leeds 0

Leeds respond with a third change. On comes Cooper for Llorente in what looks like a straight defensive swap.

07:59 PM

55 mins Arsenal 1 Leeds 0

Super sub! He's only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds but Chambers has got the breakthrough!

The corner comes in, Pepe heads it back across at the far post and Chambers is there from close range to head home his first goal in two years.

Meslier did get down to block it on the goalline but after a quick check the referee signals goal.

The Emirates erupts!

07:57 PM

GOAL!

Arsenal 1 (Chambers 55 mins) Leeds 0

07:57 PM

54 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Martinelli highlights a bit of youthful naivity from Drameh but the Brazilian takes forever to shoot and Harrison is able to get back to concede a corner.

A short pause as White plonks himself down on the turf unable to continue due to injury. On comes Chambers.

07:55 PM

52 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Roberts got all of seven second-half minutes to try and press his claims further but Bielsa has had enough, hooking him and bringing on rising young star Gelhardt. The former Wigan forward came off the bench against Wolves at the weekend to win the penalty that earned Leeds a point.

07:53 PM

51 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Reports that a fan has suffered an injury in the away end but they have been stretchered out and taken to hospital. More on that when I hear.

On the pitch, another Arsenal corner is cleared. The hosts approaching double figures for corners now but no luck yet for them via that route.

07:50 PM

47 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Arsenal, meanwhile, unchanged.

Martinelli, not for the first time tonight, is in the wars again. Again it is due to Drameh whose hefty tackle upsets the Arsenal man. He's eventually up and on his way again.

07:47 PM

46 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Half-time change for Leeds as Forshaw, who is gradually being reintroduced to the Leeds team after a horrendous couple of years out injured, comes off to be replaced by Klich.

07:33 PM

HT Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Even stevens at the Emirates and you'd say Leeds will be the happier of the two parties. Arsenal started strongly but have fizzled out with Arsenal keeper Leno the busier of the two keepers, saving from James and Harrison.

Leno punches clear the danger - AFP
Leno punches clear the danger - AFP

07:30 PM

45 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

The visitors play it out from the back as the match meanders towards the break. Just the one minute of added time.

07:29 PM

42 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Leeds fans momentarily hold their breath when a cross appears to flick Phillips' arm but nothing doing.

From the corner, Pepe can't get his feet right when the ball drops in the middle and then Smith Rowe lashes over.

Arteta's instructions all very clear - PA
Arteta's instructions all very clear - PA

07:25 PM

39 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

What appeared to be a promising break from Leeds fizzles out when James opts for the wrong option and leaves Dallas too much to do in the left channel. He should have gone to the right to Rodrigo.

Harrison then fires in a cross from the right wing but it is over the head of Roberts.

07:23 PM

37 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Harrison spins, looks up and threads the ball into the box for Rodrigo to chase. Also charging out is Leno who slides along the ground and gathers the ball up into his arms.

07:22 PM

35 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Arsenal manager Arteta is absolutely fuming on the touchline. He thinks Drameh has checked Martinelli on the half-way line with his arm.

Andre Marriner didn't initially deem it an offence but play is eventually stopped for Martinelli to be checked over. He did look to be overplaying it a bit, and replays confirm as much...

07:20 PM

33 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Llorente loses possession in the middle of the park to Maitland-Niles and Arsenal break. He tries to slide in Smith Rowe but suddenly the swarming blue defensive wave arrives. Corner.

Leeds are not renowned for their defensive prowess at corners but they've stood firm tonight.

Drameh and James then combine on the counter, it falls to Roberts but the Welshman's effort is deflected wide.

07:17 PM

30 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Half an hour gone and pretty even after a brighter start for Arsenal. Smith Rowe yet to really make his mark for the hosts.

07:14 PM

28 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

An uncomfortable few minutes for Arsenal here. Another corner again requires the services of Leno after James this time tries his luck from the edge of the box. But the Welshman's effort lacks pace and Leno can easily gather.

07:12 PM

26 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

CHANCE! From the Leeds corner, the ball falls to Harrison on the corner of the box after Llorente flicks on. His first-time shot is low towards the bottom corner but Leno gets down to bat it away.

That was the clearest opening of the match so far. And it needed a superb reflex save from the Arsenal keeper to ensure the scores stay level.

07:11 PM

24 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Arsenal with a corner but Meslier gets a strong hand to the ball to spring Leeds out on the counter attack. Dan James is out on the right but can't find his team-mate. Leeds recycle and win a corner of their own off White's head.

James' earlier effort is saved - ACTION IMAGES
James' earlier effort is saved - ACTION IMAGES

07:08 PM

22 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Yellow card Roberts!

White, familiar to Leeds fans after his successful loan spell two seasons ago, goes on his familiar charge out of defence and Roberts stops him, albeit illegally by tugging his shirt back.

07:06 PM

22 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Just a sense Leeds are starting to find their feet a bit now as they push the Arsenal defensive line back. They need to be wary of the pace Arsenal possess in attack, pace that could easily hurt them.

07:05 PM

19 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Almost a sniff for Leeds forward James as he tries to control a superb ball over the top into the box from Llorente. His first touch is too heavy though and Leno can gather. On the touchline Arteta gestures wildly after seeing his Arsenal midfield completely bypassed by that ball.

At the other end, Pepe cuts inside on his left foot but it's wildly over.

07:03 PM

17 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

After a rare Leeds foray forward, the ball is back with Arsenal again. Nketiah is afforded the freedom of the borough in the middle of the park to turn and drive towards the box. But eventually Llorente scampers across to block.

06:59 PM

14 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Arsenal trying their luck down the right-hand side now. Dallas, captain for the night, is there to sweep up, at the result of a corner. Cédric Soares carelessly sends his kick straight out.

06:56 PM

9 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Faint claims for a penalty from the Arsenal faithful as Llorente forgets how quick Maitland-Niles really is and only just gets back to stick a boot in. Kolasinac tries to feed on the resulting scraps but his effort is blocked.

On second showing, that might have been a freekick, rather than a penalty, as first contact was outside the box. But it was a clean tackle nonetheless.

06:55 PM

9 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

A confidence-boosting tackle from Leeds debutant Drameh to stop Martinelli in his tracks when he scampers forward.

06:53 PM

7 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Dan James has yet to fully hit his stride since finally joining Leeds from Manchester United. He's undoubtedly got pace to burn but them Welshman is too eager that time down the left, prompting the linesman to quickly lift his flag.

06:52 PM

6 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

Leeds defender Llorente looks set for a tough night if Nketiah keep this up. The ex-Leeds man is looking full of zip and even tries to catch out Meslier at the near post with a quick snap shot. Fortunately for Leeds fans, it flies wide of the target.

06:50 PM

5 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

A sloppy couple of moments from Leeds, including from forward Rodrigo in coughing up possesion. Nketiah tries to make the most of the opening down the left but his cross into the box locates no man in red.

06:47 PM

2 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

First corner to Arsenal, it's arrowed towards Holding in the box but Roberts is back doing his defensive duties to boot clear.

06:46 PM

1 mins Arsenal 0 Leeds 0

We're underway. Both teams yet to concede a goal in the competition this season. Something's got to give tonight.

06:42 PM

Players emerging from tunnel

Arsenal are in their traditional red with Leeds in their dark all blue away kit.

06:33 PM

Arteta's pre-match thoughts

Here's the Arsenal boss on the importance of keeping up their recent form

When you get some momentum in football, you have to continue as long as possible. It is a different competition so we have rotated some players but we expect the same level of competition.

It's important the players get the minutes and use those minutes the right way and make things difficult.

06:31 PM

A familiar face

The lesser-spotted Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah has a knack of scoring in this competition - he's nabbed six in seven appearances. And two of those came while on loan at Leeds in the 2019-2020 season.

Unsurprisingly he gets the nod to start from the off tonight for Arsenal at the Emirates.

Eddie Nketiah during his Leeds days - GETTY IMAGES
Eddie Nketiah during his Leeds days - GETTY IMAGES

06:23 PM

Bielsa's pre-match thoughts

Mainly the pre-match snippet was on young forward Joe Gelhardt, who came off the bench to help earn Leeds a draw against Wolves at the weekend. While Drameh gets the nod in defence, Gelhardt, however, is named among the substitutes again.

In the last game he came on and unbalanced the game. That is not something simple to do. To have done so increases his chances of participating more frequently.

06:20 PM

Leeds debut for Cody Drameh

Marcelo Bielsa, never afraid to throw the youngsters into the mix, hands a debut to 19-year-old defender Cody Drameh at right-back.

Drameh signed from Fulham in August 2020 and immediately made an impact, winning the club's Under-23 Player of the Year award after helping them to the Premier League 2 Division 2 title with 21 appearances full of dynamism and drive.

A keen basketball player, he will be hoping to stand tall tonight.

Cody Drameh in action for England U20s against Italy in October - GETTY IMAGES
Cody Drameh in action for England U20s against Italy in October - GETTY IMAGES

06:13 PM

Teams in black and white

Arsenal: Leno, Cedric, White, Holding, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Pepe, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Nketiah.
Subs: Thomas, Saka, Lacazette, Tavares, Chambers, Sambi Lokonga, Balogun, Ramsdale.

Leeds: Meslier, Drameh, Llorente, Struijk, Dallas, Phillips, Forshaw, James, Roberts, Harrison, Rodrgio.
Subs: Cooper, Klaesson, Gelhardt, Hjelde, Cresswell, Summerville, McKinstry, Greenwood, Klich.

06:06 PM

Leeds team news

06:06 PM

Arsenal team news

05:19 PM

Quarter-final place at stake

Although Arsenal and Leeds are familiar foes in the Premier League currently, this is actually the first meeting between the two, in what is traditionally known as the League Cup, since 1979.

For Leeds fans, the encounter will also evoke fond memories having lifted the trophy at Wembley in 1968 - their only League Cup triumph to date - thanks to Terry Cooper's winner against the same opponent.

Both teams have played two matches in the competition so far this season with Leeds beating Crewe at Elland Road before needing penalties to overcome Fulham. Arsenal, meanwhile, hit West Bromwich Albion for six away from home before putting three past AFC Wimbledon.

Arsenal have been eliminated from the League Cup at home by a fellow Premier League side in three of the last five campaigns (Southampton in 2016-17, Tottenham in 2018-19 and Manchester City last season). Leeds, however, have won/progressed from just three of their 12 domestic cup ties against Arsenal, beating them in the aforementioned 1968 League Cup final, and also the 1972 FA Cup final and the fourth round of the 1996-97 FA Cup.

Leeds, who haven't reached the quarter-final stage of the Carabao Cup since the 2016/2017 season, will be without the injured quartet of Patrick Bamford, Luke Ayling, Junior Firpo and Robin Koch but could welcome back the influential Kalvin Phillips who has been sidelined since the start of the month.

Arsenal are likely to still be without Kieran Tierney. The Scotland full-back missed Friday's win over Aston Villa with a bruised ankle and is set to sit out the cup tie as manager Mikel Arteta is expected to make several changes.

As for other business, teams will be allowed to make five substitutions from this round going forward after the EFL Board approved a rule change. All five changes will need to be made using just three breaks in play, or at half-time.

There is no Var at this stage while if the match finishes in a draw, it will go straight to penalties. The quarter-final draw will take on Saturday morning.

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