Leicester City (0) 0 Arsenal (0) 2
Carabao Cup (EFL Cup) Third Round
King Power Stadium, Filbert Way, Leicester LE2 7FL
Wednesday, 23rd September 2020. Kick-off time: 7.45pm
(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Rob Holding, David Luiz, Sead Kolašinac, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Mohamed Elneny, Joe Willock; Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pépé, Eddie Nketiah; Reiss Nelson.
Substitutes: Hector Bellerin, William Saliba, Dani Ceballos, Alexandre Lacazette, Willian Borges da Silva, Alex Rúnarsson, Granit Xhaka.
Scorers: Fuchs o.g. (57 mins), Eddie Nketiah (90 mins)
Yellow Cards: Mohamed Elneny
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 51%
Referee: Peter Bankes
Assistant Referees: Peter Kirkup, James Mainwaring
Fourth Official: Andre Marriner
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions
And so our Carabao Cup (EFL Cup) campaign for 2020-21 begins, this year with a third round tie at the King Power stadium, home of Leicester City. With the usual changes expected of a Premiership club for this competition (seven players, actually), the most interesting addition to the substitutes’ bench is our new goalkeeper, 25-year-old Icelandic international, Alex Rúnarsson, who has recently signed for us from French club Dijon on a four-year contract for around £1,800,000. Also good to see David Luiz, Mohamed Elneny, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah getting a start tonight; let’s see what the boys can do on this dark, wet, late September evening in Leicestershire. Let’s go!
The first part of the evening saw us take the match to Leicester, although the home side did surprise us several times with some good, quick moves. David Luiz helped break up one or two dangerous moves from the Foxes, but generally, we appeared to be in control with very little action in our half. Bukayo Saka was doing some sterling work, distributing clever balls across the box, and it was one of these that we nearly capitalised on and scored after just twenty minutes. Eddie Nketiah found himself on a one-to-one situation with the Leicester goalkeeper shortly afterwards, but sadly the ball was smothered at his feet. Just before the half-hour mark, Bukayo Saka was blatantly brought down in the box, but despite our lively appeals, the referee refused to award a penalty-kick for us. We then had a period where Nicolas Pépé fired over two corners in quick succession, but our efforts came to nothing as Reiss Nelson shot wide from close range. Bernd Leno and David Luiz collided badly, and in doing so, our defender came off the worst, and had to seek medical treatment. We were fortunate not to be one down, when minutes later, a deceptive chip by James Maddison bounced off our crossbar with Bernd Leno stranded and off his line. This led to a Leicester City resurgence, with Arthur Albrighton firing in some dangerous crosses that put our defence under pressure in the minutes just before the break, which thankfully came after two minutes injury time.
Surprisingly, Mikel Arteta made no changes at half-time, especially as the second half started in the same manner as the first ended, with the home side in the ascendancy. James Maddison was causing us issues, whilst their defenders were mopping up loose balls at the back with ease. A minute or so later, David Luiz played an inch-perfect pass through the Leicester defence that saw Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Nicolas Pépé combining well on the right, but sadly Nicolas Pépé’s cross went badly wrong and sailed over the crossbar. A few minutes later, Nicolas Pépé took the ball to the byline, and his cross bounced off two Leicester defenders like a pinball, and it finally cannoned off Christian Fuchs into his own net to give us the lead. We felt the advantage now, and started to pass the ball confidently in the Foxes’ half. Reiss Nelson was substituted for Willian after seventy minutes, and a couple of minutes later, Eddie Nketiah chipped the Leicester goalkeeper, only for Wes Wilson to head it off the line. Dani Ceballos replaced Joe Willock with twelve minutes of the match remaining, and despite Leicester making some clever chances, our defence held firm. With three minutes remaining, Bukayo Saka was replaced by Hector Bellerin just to shore things up at the back, and despite the home side making some interesting moves, Eddie Nketiah grabbed the winner on the ninetieth minute with a shot from close range after some messy, clumsy defending by the home side.
Fourth round here we come, and either Lincoln City or Liverpool lay in wait for us next week. Overall, although this will not be remembered as a classic match, it was certainly one that saw us show just how good our squad is, and how damn tough we are to beat on our day. The way we refused to cave in to Leicester City’s pressure and how we were relentless in our desire to win the match was a sight to behold, and if we carry on in this manner, Mikel Arteta’s version of Arsenal will certainly take some beating.
Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Liverpool at Anfield on Monday, 28th September at 8.00pm (Premier League). Victoria Concordia Crescit.
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