Norwich City Review: Nketiah Late Show Steals Win

Arsenal 2 – 1 Norwich City

It’s a very different morning than the one we expected for the first 85 minutes of last night’s game. Awful doesn’t do it justice; the match was beyond that as a team of strangers played football in a convincing team of strangers kind of way.

Enter stage left Eddie Nketiah, the 18-year-old whose decision to ditch Chelsea for the delights of north London was fully justified within seconds of entering the fray. Jogging onto the pitch, the next time he stopped moving was in celebration at the corner flag. A poacher’s goal and extra time beckoned.

Arsenal scoring from a set-piece once in a match was strange enough, Nketiah did it twice. The second, a powerful header, arrived courtesy of a perfectly timed jump between defenders to net the winner. Job done and a manager in the mood to enthuse afterwards:

I know that he has character and is not afraid. He smells the combination movements, he can give and go and once a player has that in his game, they have always a chance. The guys who can understand that if they give the ball somewhere and they can get it back and know where to get it back, the quality of reception is a very important quality. I would say the quality of the reception, he has that.

Wenger was upfront and honest about Nketiah’s chance arriving last night. “If I had experienced players on the bench, strikers for example,” he said, “I would certainly in the end have put them on and not Eddie.”

Which is fair enough; we’ll leave the revisionism of what a great example of squad management this was to others. It’s going to come, you know that it is.

Arsenal don’t care. Through to the next round, West Ham United came out of the hat (allegedly) and we’re now fourth favourites to lift the Cup at 6/1 with Betfair football bets.

Tip for the Top

And really that’s all you need to know about the game. Utterly non-descript in the annals of Arsenal FC, a fortunate win which saw the visiting goalkeeper – the son of Bryan Gunn, apparently – make some fine saves.

The Norwich goal was a finish to applaud once you’d taken your head out of your hands at the defending. The ghost of Adams and McLintock were spinning in their footballing graves. Even those of Blockley and Mancini snorted derisively.

The referee played his part in proceedings. Mo Elneny ought to have been sent off early in the second half but in keeping with proceedings, he maintained his cool and didn’t get sent to the stands. You were denied the headline, “Farke Off”, which finds itself consigned to the same bin as “On Me Eddie, Son”, “Rock Steady Eddie”, and of course, “Eddie Arrives in the Nketiah Time”.

Much is being made of the lack of experience on the bench but let’s be honest, the football authorities are the ones to answer that question. The timing of fixture stank the place out, with a Sunday kick-off the question is why we faced a game on a Tuesday. I note Tottenham play tonight in the same circumstances.

There’s a potential issue with the next round as well, with the date set two days before the Liverpool match at the Emirates. However, that can move to the Tuesday to give Wenger a few more options if he needs them. Bristol City at home, if you don’t mind footballing gods.

A Smash Double-Header

At this point, I could criticise Francis Coquelin’s performance overall, Theo Walcott’s propensity to dwell offside and a host of other faults. I don’t see the point, others are doing more than adequately. This is a ‘nice to have’ result in a ‘nice to have’ competition.

Arsène’s decision to re-iterate that the competition remains a low priority means in my mind, that whilst winning silverware is nice, it’s little more than a Champions League distraction: a competition we will never win. We move on from last night and look forward to the weekend’s meeting with Swansea.

Being the Carabao Cup, even the controversy was half-arsed. With the draws for each round at ungodly hour o’clock and hampered by incompetence, the use of a fourth substitute proved beyond the Evening Standard’s James Benge:

I didn’t think the rule was that complicated – you’re allowed three substitutes to deploy during the match as usual plus an additional one in extra time. Which is exactly what Arsenal did.

That there was a rule change seemed to be news to some:

on whether there has been a rule change or whether he could always use a fourth substitute in extra-time…

Tough job being a journalist covering a match like last night’s when there’s no upset to report on.[444]

’til Tomorrow.

54 thoughts on “Norwich City Review: Nketiah Late Show Steals Win

  1. Yep
    Bit weird that game
    Lucky we have a big squad
    And now a new shiny striker
    Arseblog is coming to Australia
    When are you coming over YW?

  2. To crown it all, we have a new rising striker star on the coming. i hope he will have more game time to prove to us once more again of his abilities.

  3. Unbelievable. Some hack from the Daily heil is already asking when Manchester City will come calling for Nketiah. You couldn’t script this one yourself. They also make a point of saying that Lewisham born Nketiah is a diehard Arsenal fan who is unlikely to want out of the club. We’ll see.

  4. Good afternoon YW from a very sunny sunny south of France.

    I did not see the game but not at all surprised by the disjointed nature of the performance.

    Whether it be the U 19s – U 21 team(s) it highlights that there is no current footballing modus operandi – footballing template that is the current ‘Arsena way’. I would describe the current philosophy as kick and run. It’s as simple as that.

    I watched Sundays game again last night. There were times a space of anywhere between 20-35 yards between AR and Xahia who was ‘shielding ‘ the defence, our only player in midfield whilst Ramsey joined the melee up front.

    Everton as we know are struggling. A different team on another day and it could have been so different.

    Its pretty obvious that Granit X does not possess the athleticism to really flourish and provide what the team needs from a player In that role and area of the pitch. His first touch is men. He’s to one footed. His turning arc is way to big and slow and he can’t tackle. J vous assure that its another calamity waiting to happen against pressing more organised teams.

  5. Good day folks, I didn’t see the game, but was kept up to date by C’s valiant efforts. From looking at various reports Wenger’s starting eleven didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory, but a win is a win is a win.

    An excellent cameo appearance from a young striker, to get one goal on a home debut is good but to get two is exceptional, especially when they won the game for us. However good his brief appearance was, let’s not get carried away I doubt if the Norwich coaches had even heard of him, let alone have a plan to deal with him. We can only hope that he progresses through the ranks and doesn’t, as so many other youngsters have done in the past, reach a plateau and stick there.

  6. Great to nick the win and carry on into the next round. I want us to win every game, so I’ll always review performances critically. The experienced players were poor, but the youngsters put the effort in and Eddie was the star on the night by a long way. I am starting to wonder about Iwobi, as he should be bossing games like that if he is developing as a player. It makes me feel that he has reached a ceiling at the moment and needs guidance if he is going to progress. Jack seemed to be knackered but battled away, although it was more effort than inspiration on the night. I just can’t comment on Giroud and Walcott other than to say they were poor.
    If we are going to play with a three at the back we need to be way more organised as the wing back formation means the CBs are covering across the pitch. Playing a high line gives your opponents too much space to work with if you aren’t playing with full backs. We were caught out on several occasions last night by a simple ball over the top when a bit more discipline at the back would have snuffed out a number of the chances they had. It wasn’t until extra time that we seemed to get on top of it, but that’s more likely to be down to tired legs on their part I suspect.

  7. Wasn’t able to watch the game but I’ve seen condensed highlights.

    The young lad took his chances superbly. He deserves all the plaudits today.

    With that said, neither goal was particularly remarkable. He got his positioning, timing and jump right is all. Basically, the basics. As others have rightly said, lets not get carried away. If it hadn’t of been a brace, none of this chat would be on the table today about City poaching and rising stars.

    I almost feel sorry for the boy. We’ve seen too many very able players have too much too soon at AFC and crumble under it.

  8. Great post Yogi.

    Every once in a while you catch lightning in a bottle but somehow it happened twice in the span of about 15 minutes. May be we should all buy a lottery ticket today. Great stuff from Eddie and he really saved out butts. The rest of the squad didn’t show up. Our team culture is a reflection of the manager and the rest of the squad not named Eddie had about as much interest in winning the competition as Arsene does. Hopefully Arsene will find a spot in the starting line up for Eddie in the next round of the league cup. Eddie now gets the blessing or perhaps the curse by taking over as the next U21 flavor of the month. Hopefully he can handle the sudden fame and heavy dose of hype that comes with that position.

  9. Good stuff Yogi!

    The other player that saved us was Macey, a fine debut indeed because he made a couple saves that kept us in the match and Nketiah not only scored the goals but his introduction and youthfulness lifted the whole team and FFS it even made Giroud give a bit of effort.

    Overall the night came down to the younger players (Nketiah, Nelson, Macey, Maitland-Niles and even Dasilva in his cameo) played well and the experienced players were crap.

  10. Damon,

    Not only at Arsenal but also because he is English and we all know how quickly the media pounces on the next great English youth player.

  11. The other thing is full credit to Norwich because yea our boys played like crap but part of that was down to Norwich playing well and instead of parking the bus, they attacked and went for it. Those Norwich players have no reason to hang their heads, they played their style and almost pulles off the upset.

  12. Orson Kaert,

    Eddie, Eddie, Eddie!

    I completely agree and would normally be thinking that he needs a loan spell to get some games at a competitive level. Given the lack of scoring talent in the current squad outside the main protagonists, I’d be tempted to keep young Eddie available for the League and Europa League cup games. He probably deserves to be in the starting line up for one of those games.

  13. I know Akpom didn’t score but he did make an impact as well when he came on, he added some much needed directness and movement in the final third that was sorely lacking.

    The funny part about all of this is that we were utter shit when it came to dead balls but our 3 best chances all came from of all people, Theo’s deliver from a corner. Holding had a chance and the Norwich GK made a great reaction save, then the 2 corners that led to the goals. Good flick by Le Coq for the first too. Yup, that’s all the praise I will give to the senior players.

  14. C,

    He also hit the first man on a few occasions. Our dead ball deliveries are generally poor. Practice, practice, practice.

    I thought Akpom did OK as the left-sided player. Again, some of the crossing was iffy (he often put it behind the man in the middle), but he did give us more movement.

  15. Hitting the first man at set pieces is not entirely the fault of the player taking the kick, good defenders anticipate where the ball will end up and act accordingly.

    Practice against our own defenders won’t help much as they’re not that good at defending set pieces anyway.

  16. Congratulations to the England who beat Brazil 3 – 1 to reach the U17 World Cup Final. Hat trick by Liverpool youngster Rhian Brewster did the trick.

  17. Eddie is rightly praised for his goals, and equally we are reminded not to hail the new super-kid for fear of dooming him with the label of saviour of the human race Arsenal. And both are correct, of course.

    But it is no surprise to those of us who follow the youth team tyros, and in this case a young guy who has already played a cute cameo in the EL against Bate Borisov, coming on in the 89th minute and strutting his stuff at high pace on the wing.

    This lad has the look of a genuine goal-sniffer, a la Ian Wright, Wright, Wright – having scored 24 in 2015/16 for various youth teams, another 24 goals for youth teams in 2016/17 and now is on the verge of the senior Cup squads in 2017/18.

    It is important to retain a sense of proportion and not to put too much pressure on the youngster — I hope he makes haste – slowly – in his development, otherwise it could be a footballing case of running before he can walk. 😀

  18. Wavey,

    Yea, that’s what I found so funny about our dead ball delivery not just Theo but Jack and Giroud’s free kick, they were generally poor but the 3 times that we just happen to get them right we created 3 chances and 2 of them went in the back of the net.

    I’m not saying that Akpom lit it up or anything spectacular but he did bring movement and directness in those attacking areas that to be honest, the other attackers didn’t. Outside of Maitland-Niles and Nelson, there was very little if any actual attacking or potential in attack from anybody else in the starting XI.

  19. Also, it was REALLY surprising to see Pedro Losa leave his post as Arsenal Women manager due to them being currently 6th and him feeling like he should be doing better given the amount of money that has been spent to overturn the squad the past 2 years.

  20. Its never a surprise when our players have a stinker in the league cup. Arsene has never cared about the league cup and even admits that winning is not important to him. The culture of our squad as a whole has always mirrored Arsene. Last year it did not work but the incredible energy and mental strength we have been able to show over the years whenever the top 4 was at risk is another example of Arsene’s cultural influence. Arsene was a trendsetter and he was one of the first to truly devalue the league cup and now most of the big teams have followed his lead. The fact that Arsene has never won the league cup tells you everything you need to know about how he and the squad think about that competition.

  21. Bonne après-midi, Ras, comment tu vas? Pas mal ou êtes-vous marre d’Arsenal?

    It is nearly always sunny dans le sud de la France — like your usual disposition.
    Mais, nous devons gagner une compétition – alors tu seres peut-être heureux? 😀

  22. With regard to Eddie the number of younger players who have had great performances in the league cup has reached several dozen. However, what Eddie did yesterday was probably in the top 5 during the Wenger era. Hopefully Eddie will buck the trend of all of those other great prospects and by the time he reaches his early 20’s he will actually develop into a player who can be an asset to our first team.

    Jack Wilshere looked good in Belgrade last Thursday and an several us of were excited about the prospect of Jack back to his best. Dukey even gave us a rare cameo to sing the praises of Jack. However, in yesterdays game Jack played the way he did all of last season and I suspect yesterdays game was probably more indicative of what can expect from Jack this season.

  23. Bill,

    I might be wrong – and if so I apologise in advance, but you always seem to cast a shadow on the motivation of Arsenal when it comes to AW’s personal utterances.

    YW set out key parts of Wenger’s interview, yesterday, where he made it clear his priorities did not lie with the Caraboa Cup, per se, but that, as it has in various previous formats of the League Cup, been seen as a proving ground for talented youngsters to gain experience and to play in front of their supporters.

    The young Eddie was thrilled to get a chance to come on as a sub last night, and especially to score the winning goals, but he seemed even more pleased to perform in front of the Arsenal fans in a wonderful stadium. And credit to him and the other youngsters.

    The game seemed to labour as a result of the B string of senior players being pretty dire – and from their perspective they seem to make hard work of it — and nearly spoilt the show.

    Personally, I hope we see more of the youth team jewels in the quarter final — and frankly if they do not get picked, if they get us through to the Final this year, then that would be wrong in my opinion – even if it means we eventually lose.

    Give the kids a break!

  24. Hi C,

    I will probably be labelled as an unintended misogynist for saying this, but I thought Vic Akers was the Arsenal Women’s team manager,

    Pedro Losa — who he. 🙂

  25. Henry

    I agree with your post for the most part. Arsene does not care about winning the league cup and all of the players know it and especially the senior players. The performance of our senior players in the league cup always going to be high or miss. Over the years we have seen some great performances from some of our younger players in the league cup because their motivation level is going to be higher then the senior players and they get a chance to play against some weak opponents. However, getting production from a player like Eddie is completely hit or miss (mostly miss) and our history has proved that we are not going to win the league cup with a team of nothing but our U21 teams. We need the senior players to be the leaders and provide the production if we really want to win the league cup but the senior players don’t really seem to care that much.

  26. HenryB,

    He was the manager but retired in 2009 (think you might be 8 years too late) but he won an ASTONISHING 32 major trophies as Arsenal Women’s manager. He retired and is now still with Arsenal as the kit manager. His trophy cabinet puts Arsene and really other men’s managers to shame, see below:

    FA Women’s PL (11 titles): 1993, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
    FA Women’s Cup (9): 1993, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008
    FA Women’s PL cup (10): 1992, 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009
    FA Women’s Community Shield (5): 1999, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007
    UEFA Women’s Cup (1): 2007

  27. Henry

    The bottom line is it depends on what your expectations are for the league cup run. For you its a chance to watch your favorite U21’s and the results are really not that important and more power to you. The problem for me with that approach is that has been happening for the entire Emirates era and I see no evidence to suggest that giving players like Eddie or the hundreds of youth players that have played in these games has actually helped them to develop into players who can make an impact on the first team. Great performances in the League cup has never really predicted a strong future career for any of our academy players. Giving them all of these minutes might be exciting but it has not really helped them and the theoretical benefit of giving those players experience has never been demonstrated to be helpful to them in long run.

    For me the focus of what we do should be first team success. I think the first priority of the league cup games is to give minutes to the first team players who are not regulars such as Giroud, Walcott, Wilshere Le Coq, Debuchy, Elneny. even if that means we might get underwhelming games like yesterday. Those senior players still need playing time in case we have an injury or 2 and we need to use them in the first 11.

  28. I completely understand if someone would argue the senior players often seem like they don’t care so we might as well play a U21 squad in the league cup games. However, we are not going to win either way and we will probably drop out of the competition earlier then we do now if we play all U21’s and there is no evidence to suggest that blooding the youth players has helped them develop. The benefit of running out youth teams is to give the fans a chance to see the younger players and get excited when they have a good game and if that is what you think is most important then fair enough. I hope that all makes sense.

  29. Bill,

    I certainly see no problem with those views you express.

    There have been some wonderful moments for a whole series of kids over the years, but if you take what you already said was your understanding of AW’s views, he does not care particularly about the League Cup, and therefore it has a use only in giving the kids some experience, and unlikely tho it is that they could win the thing, especially as this year includes the Manc clubs, Totteringham and so on, whom our first team would struggle against – it seems that you and he agree, in a round about way that the Premiership is, and should be, the most important competition for us and therefore he would want to protect the first team squad.

    That means we arrive back at the kids playing the Caraboa, and the top team being rested.

    Let’s face it — our squad needs upgrading in general, and the players on display last night did so because they are not in the first team, and are mainly bench riders.

    There is an understanding here that we are really saying the same thing.

    [Anyway — it is all C’s fault — I don’t know why – but we have to find a scapegoat in case we are both wrong!! ] 😀

  30. HenryB,

    I wasn’t sure of the years he lifted trophies but I did know the rest ;-).

    Either way, its interesting that even with Pedro winning 2 cups, he still felt like he let the club down and left because they were in 6th.

  31. Top three finish, three seasons on the trot. If Wenger could manage that he would not be the unpopular figure he is.

  32. There is a second theme here which fits in with your opinion that a good performance for the youngsters together or as individuals does not often lead to further success.

    You know that C and I take a lot of interest in the youth teams, and are often disappointed when good players get released or go put on loan only to subsequently disappear.

    There are two or three players who we both rate highly who have disappeared off the screen lately and these are Zellalem, Mavididi, and The Jeff.
    I do not know what the story is around these guys – loans, injuries, loss of form – or they are going to be off-loaded in the near future – but it does fall in with your view that these kids come and go all too easily — and I, for one, am disappointed this happens so regularly.

    Incidentally – Chelsea, Man Citeh and Manure seem to be so much better than we are at scouting for top youth talent and either easing them into their teams or selling them for a lot of money. To this end, we are all happy with Eddie at the moment, and he seems to have been a Chelsea cast off (?) – It is unpleasant to say it – but all three of those clubs seem to have a constant flow of top talent.

  33. C, @ 4:05

    You said it was really surprising to learn that Pedro Losa left his post with the women (possibly an unfortunate way of saying that) 🙂 – but that surprise applied only to your goodself as the rest of us did not even know he was the manager, let alone that he was now an ex-manager!! 😀

  34. Won’t mention the game last night… it was pretty much atrocious until the 85th minute but I totally agree about Le Coq… What is this man’s role? He can’t tackle, pass or shoot and his postioning is pretty much sh!te.

    So can someone tell me what he brings to the party as I for one haven’t got a clue?

  35. Yikes — have just checked out the papers and had a quick look on twitter and Le Coq and Theo have been roasted. Not just for last night but also for their play over a longer period of time.

    Fans can sometimes go overboard, but some of the views are really over the top.
    These players are what they are – which is not top quality, but they do try within their limitations — altho for their own benefit, perhaps they might need to keep their heads down, and maybe other clubs will come in for them, as they spend too much time on the bench anyway.

    Not nice to read!

  36. Henry B @ 5:53

    “There are two or three players who we both rate highly who have disappeared off the screen lately and these are Zellalem, Mavididi, and The Jeff.
    I do not know what the story is around these guys – loans, injuries, loss of form – or they are going to be off-loaded in the near future – but it does fall in with your view that these kids come and go all too easily — and I, for one, am disappointed this happens so regularly.”

    I think the story is that those players are not nearly as good as we hope. We think with our heart and we see what we want to see when we watch them in the U21 set up. That is the only logical explanation when you see the exact same scenario play out for all of the players that have been rated very highly over the years. I can’t count the number of players like that those that you and C have rated very highly only to see them never come very close to reaching the potential you believe they have. What other reasonable explanation could there be?

    I think the way we play in our youth set up really emphasizes technical skill and passing skill and our players are very well drilled in the way we play and they can run circles around opponents in the u21 leagues. However, the defensive players get smarter and better the further up the chain you go and the teams put more emphasis on organized defense and the defensive players have seen everything and you can’t dazzle PL level players and teams with technical skill because they have seen everything and they stay organized. The bottom line is that the skills which make players like Zelalem a star and get everyone excited in the youth ranks just don’t translate into an effective player at the top level of most leagues much less the PL

  37. Bill,

    When I said I did not know the story of those young players, it was because I do not know, and speculation is just that — another word for guessing.

    It is possible that you are right, that players we ordinary fans rate highly do not ring the bell for the professional coaches – but you could also be wrong.
    The pressures on youngsters is immense, as there are some 5,000 who come into football and released every year in the search for the best future players. Some of the best get the chop – and Kane is an example of that – released by Arsenal at 9 years old – he is now worth £200m apparently.

    The selection system is not fool proof, and plenty of mistakes like that are made. In addition, if a player gets a long term injury, the next kid in line takes his place, and in the cruel world of youth football the injured player, however talented, gets blocked out – and so on.

    If you want proof of how small the difference between being a ‘hero’ or a ‘zero’ is, just listen to AW. He said that if he had a more senior, experienced player available on the bench – he would have put him on, and not Eddie. Even if that guy was not the right quality — Arsenal go out — the older sub looks useless — Eddie is not a fans ‘hero’.

    And you and C spend hours discussing it. 😀

  38. Henry

    If you consider the Emirates era we have a huge sample size and there can be absolutely no doubt that we as fans over rate the vast majority of our players who come thru our academy ranks. Its impossible to come to any other conclusion.

  39. I had stopped watching the Hammer v Spuds because it looked like Spuds were going to run rampant, but Ogbanno has just given West Ham a 3-2.

    Come on West Ham!

  40. West Ham completed the comeback and knocked out Spuds at Wembley! None of this they played a B team, nope outside of Kane, they played a lot of regulars.

  41. Bill,

    I think Akpom is a very good example of that. He has clearly excelled at junior level and has been a fine goal scorer at every youth level for England. When it comes to senior football, he hasn’t really been able to step up. In fact, he has only scored goals at senior level in one of his loan spells – that being the 3 goals he scored in 36 appearances at Hull. He’s never scored in a competitive match at any other club, including Arsenal. I want to see talent coming through, but when it clearly isn’t developing you wonder how long you persevere. I think Wenger has said in the past that some of the young players he has kept trying with have ended up blocking the path of other players coming through. Maybe he has learned that to some degree with players like Eddie getting a shot as well.

  42. allezkev,

    Is this an interview, or a press release? The journalist should have been taken out and shot. Where were the probing questions? Where has the discussion on the transfer policy? Why was their no attempt to discuss the impending player departures next summer other than some vague comment that they want to keep Ozil and Sanchez? Why weren’t they asked how they could Wenger dictate discussions on his contract to the degree that it damaged the performance of the team? If they think the harder decision was to keep Wenger in charge what was their thinking on the easier decision? Kroenke is asked if we are going to buy a certain striker when he is the mountains, I bet he has no clue who they are asking about. A puff piece written as a response to AST’s request that they make some kind of statement and engage supporters this year.

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