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Arsenal 2:0 Leeds United : 5 talking points as Gunner’s squads speed-up to secure the Carabao cup progress

A couple of Arsenal’s squad players proved invaluable as two second half strikes helped the Gunners reach the last eight of the Carabao Cup at the expense of Leeds United.

The Gunners last won the trophy way back in 1993, but Mikel Arteta’s side remain on course to secure the club’s third League Cup success thanks to goals from defender Calum Chambers and the former Leeds forward Eddie Nketiah.

Chambers forced the ball over the line just seconds after coming on for injured defender Ben White, while ex-loanee Nketiah added a second just under a quarter of an hour later when he bundled home after rounding goalkeeper Ilian Meslier.

Leeds had been impressive in the first half, coming closest when Jack Harrison’s effort was saved by Bernd Leno.

Here are the game’s main talking points.

1. Emile Smith Rowe will have to get used to the attention

It wasn’t so long ago that Carabao Cup starts would have been the height of Emile Smith Rowe’s Arsenalambitions, but much has changed in a short space of time for the youngster.

Here he was beginning this game as the nailed on first-team attacker dropped in alongside those who are a little more on the fringes of things, but with that status comes added difficulties.

Leeds were watching the Arsenal No.10 closely throughout the game, so much so that he was often crowded out.

In the first half in particular he was as quiet as he has been in any recent Arsenal game, and as his star continues to ascend he’s going to have to learn to contend with such attention.

2. Bernd Leno has the right attitude

 

However, if the German has been sulking over his demotion then he didn’t show it here.

Indeed, the Gunners were indebted to Leno in the first half when he made a smart stop to deny an effort from Harrison, and although it was a save you surely have expected him to make he still did so with a minimum of fuss.

If the cups are to be Leno’s fate for now, then he’s doing all he can to keep his club in them.

3. The price of taking it seriously

Along with Smith Rowe, Ben White was one of the bone fide first-team names in the Arsenal starting XI.

But Mikel Arteta might now wish that he wasn’t.

The illness which forced the centre-back off in the second period of the game might not prove to be too serious, but the very fact that it has occurred underlined just why clubs are so careful when to comes to picking their big names in this competition.

Chambers may have scored within moments of coming on for the former Brighton man, but there is no doubt which defender Arteta would prefer to have in his Premier League XI at Leicester on Saturday.

White was beginning to establish himself alongside Gabriel at the back for the Gunners, and any absence would be keenly felt.

How big a blow is Ben White injury? Have your say in the comments section

4. No big deal for Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds

It wasn’t quite at the level of the first-half performance that Leeds gave at Arsenal in the FA Cup back in January 2020, but the Whites still gave a good account of themselves in the first period at the Emirates.

They had the better chances and generally nullified Arsenal to very few, before falling away in the second half as the Gunners took over.

But although he will of course be frustrated to lose, Marcelo Bielsa will surely already have his eye on Premier League matters.

His side have still only won once there this season, and Norwich away this weekend is a far bigger game than this one was.

5. Mikel Arteta should target the Carabao Cup

With no European football and a series of behemoths to contend with in the Premier League, Arsenal boss Arteta might well look at this competition as a perfect chance for more sheen and silverware.

Indeed, having already won the FA Cup it would be quite the collection of trophies to point to in just over two years in charge if Arsenal are lifting the trophy at the end of February, and the sort of thing that he could dredge up whenever his position was question.

How other high-profile managers much wish they could do something similar.

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