Arsenal secured their way into the EFL Cup quarter-finals with a comfortable win over Leeds United, with Calum Chambers and Eddie Nketiah on target.
Arsenal made light work on the evening to dispatch Leeds United with ease. The Gunners scored two second half goals courtesy of Calum Chambers’s header and an Eddie Nketiah strike to seal their passage into the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.
While Leeds were forced to make some changes, they still fielded a strong side for lack of alternative options. As for Arsenal, they made nine changes from their win over Aston Villa, although Emile Smith Rowe and Ben White retained their places due to the enforced absence of Pablo Mari and Martin Odegaard.
After a quiet first half, the Gunners sprang to life in the second period. Eventually, it took a Chambers header to open the scoring, with the defender scoring with his first touch of the ball.
Later, Nketiah exploited a horrible back-pass from Liam Cooper to score his goal. Arsenal rightly kept a clean sheet and snuffed out any danger Leeds might have posed in the final third. After a good performance from his fringe stars, Mikel Arteta will be a happy manager and will now look forward to bringing back the rested players against Leicester City at the weekend. Here’s how the players fared as Arsenal beat Leeds United in the EFL Cup round of 16.
Into the quarter-finals! ✊
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 26, 2021
Bernd Leno: 7.5/10
Leno showed strength in his performance upon his return between the posts. He made some strong saves, especially at his near post, to keep Arsenal in the contest. There were questions asked of his distribution still, as Ramsdale’s looked much better in perspective. He was named Man of the Match by Arsenal.
✅ Clean sheet
✅ Top performance
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 27, 2021
Cedric Soares: 6/10
Although his game is of an attacking full-back, it seemed like Cedric was asked to play the role of ab auxiliary central defender, as Takehiro Tomiyasu has played in recent games. This style meant Nicolas Pepe did not get much support in the way of overlapping from the right-back. However, post the break, Cedric attacked much more and showed intent.
Ben White: 7.5/10
A surprise inclusion because of Pablo Mari’s absence through illness. Ben White’s class was evident with and without the ball at his feet. He sent some terrific long balls across the field and is proving his worth to the club with every passing game. Although Arteta later confirmed it was just a precaution, he went off in the second half with what looked like an injury.
Rob Holding: 7/10
Holding showed composure on the pitch despite having limited game-time of late and proved he could still be a great option for Premier League matchdays. He played on the left side of the defence to accommodate Ben White and had a decent game overall.
Sead Kolasinac: 6.5/10
Like Cedric, Kolasinac was ineffective in attack and failed to provide any real support for Gabriel Martinelli. Although from a defensive standpoint, he was very good, winning every header that came his way. He was shifted into a central defensive role to replace Holding and accommodate Tavares as the game wore on.
Mohamed Elneny: 6/10
Elneny played a crucial role in recycling the ball in midfield as Arsenal emphasised defending in the first half. The Egyptian had a very defensive-minded performance, making a few key interceptions. In the second half, he was much better at bringing the ball forward. He was taken off later in the game as he started to show fatigue since he has not been playing much this season.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 7/10
A very good showing from Maitland-Niles in midfield, as he showed his manager, he could do a job as well as any other player. Kept things ticking in the middle, made some interceptions and helped break up play whenever necessary. Kick-started a few moves to round off a complete midfield performance, providing Arteta with another option if needed going forward this season.
Emile Smith Rowe: 6/10
Smith Rowe’s pace and clever movements caused problems for the Leeds defence, but he was not quite at his best. His selection was due to the enforced absence of Martin Odegaard.
Nicolas Pepe: 5/10
Some problems are clearly brewing with Nicolas Pepe as his performances keep diminishing in terms of quality. Very predictable on the ball and was easily snuffed out by the Leeds defence when needed. This was a game where he desperately needed to make an impact, and he failed miserably.
Eddie Nketiah: 6.5/10
Nketiah struggled to make an impact further up the field, as the entire front three lacked cohesion. He gets points for working hard on the ball and a higher rating for taking advantage of the loose ball from Liam Cooper to score, with some good fortune falling his way.
📞 When Eddie answers the call…
🔊 And puts the fans on speaker!
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 27, 2021
Gabriel Martinelli: 5/10
Much like his partners in the frontline, Martinelli, too, struggled. With Kolasinac struggling to provide enough support, the Brazilian often tried to make things happen independently, although he was caught out on more than one occasion. He cannot be faulted for lack of effort, but he failed to have any real impact.
Calum Chambers: 7/10
Chambers replaced the efficient Ben White. To everyone’s surprise, he opened the scoring with his first touch on the ball. After that, he kept things quiet at the back and saw the game out.
Three, two, one…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 27, 2021
Alexandre Lacazette: 6/10
He came on and instantly began battling with the centre-backs while pressing with intent. Had one chance, created all by himself, which he skied high.
Albert Sambi Lokonga: 6/10
Lokonga replaced Elneny as Arsenal had to protect the lead and wanted someone who could keep possession. Did his job well.
Nuno Tavares: N/A
A late substitution to replace the tired Holding. Did a decent job, although Tavares was not on the pitch long enough to receive a rating.
Illan Meslier: 5/10
A night to introspect for the Leeds goalkeeper after a poor error. Did not have much to do on the night, but when the moment came, the Frenchman withered. The first goal could have been easily avoided had he stayed on his line; instead, he stood behind, giving Arsenal the lead. However, he cannot be faulted for the second, as Cooper’s headed back-pass did the damage.
Cody Drameh: 7/10
Drameh was impressive on debut and will certainly leave Marcelo Bielsa with some thinking to do for the next games. He remained stuck with Martinelli throughout the game, giving the Brazilian no chance to influence the proceedings. That was his task, and he stuck with it.
Diego Llorente: 7.5/10
Llorente was by far one of Leeds’ best players, keeping things quiet at the back. Llorente also created a great chance for Daniel James from his half, and the winger should have made most of it. It was surprising that Bielsa decided to take him off.
Pascal Struijk: 4.5/10
If not for Llorente’s presence at the back, some of Struijk’s misplaced passes might have proved dangerous for Leeds. He thoroughly struggled at the back and lacked composure all evening.
Stuart Dallas: 5/10
Dallas displayed composure and was at his usual self, displaying his no-nonsense attitude. His versatility is helping Leeds overcome the shortage in the full-back slots.
Kalvin Phillips: 6/10
Bielsa had no option but to start Phillips. Despite being a fitness doubt for this game, the England international played his part to help control the midfield. However, as the game wore on, he showed sloppiness, which could have resulted in something unprecedented for the away side.
Adam Forshaw: 5.5/10
Forshaw played his part and executed his orders pretty well. Did the dirty work but was ineffective in dictating play in any manner, which was not his task. He was taken off at half-time, as Bielsa wanted a different dimension, although there was nothing wrong with his performance.
Daniel James: 6/10
The performance was a reflection of James’s struggles since signing from Manchester United. Despite his visible hard-working style, the decision-making from the Welsh international still begs a lot of questions. He should have made the most of the chance created by Llorente, but the ball got away from him.
Tyler Roberts: 4/10
Roberts thoroughly struggled for consistency all evening, and he had a terrible game. He was booked for a pointless foul on Ben White and provided no viable threat till he was hauled off.
Jack Harrison: 6.5/10
Harrison was one of those who kept trying to create chances by sending in hopeful balls. However, with Kolasinac displaying composure to keep him at bay, the attacker found it difficult to create something more valuable.
Rodrigo Moreno: 4/10
A night to forget for Rodrigo, who thoroughly struggled on the evening. The Arsenal defenders caught up with him for most parts, leaving the Spanish international stifled.
Mateusz Klich: 5/10
Bielsa decided to replace the effective Forshaw with Klich to add another dimension in transitional play. Judging by Klich’s high standards, though, he had a quiet game and failed to make an impact in any manner.
Joe Gelhardt: 4/10
Gelhardt may get points for trying his utmost to influence the proceedings, but he struggled a fair bit after replacing Roberts early in the second half.
Liam Cooper: 3/10
Cooper was sent on to bring in some leadership on the pitch. Instead, his headed back-pass was exploited by Nketiah in the build-up to the second Arsenal goal.
Crysencio Summerville: 4/10
Summerville came on and played his part without really affecting the proceedings in any way.
Sam Greenwood: 4/10
Like Summerville, Greenwood was sent to have the type of influence on the game that Rodrigo should have had. Was equally ineffective.