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Match Report: Arsenal 3 – 1 Leicester City

Arsenal (1) 3 Leicester City (1) 1
Premier League
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Monday, 22nd October 2018. Kick-off time: 8.00pm
(4-2-3-1) Leno: Bellerín, Mustafi, Holding, Lichtsteiner; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Özil, Iwobi; Lacazette.
Substitutes: Martínez, Medley, Guendouzi, Smith-Rowe, Ramsey, Welbeck, Aubameyang.
Scorers: Özil, Aubameyang (2)
Yellow Cards: Holding, Xhaka
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Attendance: 59,886
On this chilly October night, we welcome to our stadium the 2016 Premiership champions, Leicester City, who lifted the much-coveted trophy after a hard-fought season in which many observers felt that they did not have the credentials to see the job through, which they did of course, to the surprise of just about everyone both inside and outside the game. In the past, we have done some excellent business with The Foxes; Alan Smith, who became known as the striker that always seemed to pop up and score an important goal for us when it was needed the most (Anfield ’89 and Copenhagen ’94) who came to us from Filbert Street (their old ground) back in 1987. Also, our 1970 Fairs Cup and 1971 “double” winning captain, the legendary Frank McLintock, who joined us from LCFC in 1964 and became one of our six truly legendary skippers, along with Tom Parker, Eddie Hapgood, Joe Mercer, Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira. Many can be a club captain, very few are leaders of men; he wore that thorny crown with true panache, courage and honour in an illustrious nine year career before leaving us for Queens Park Rangers in 1973.
Here we again, almost straight from the kick-off, we remain in first gear for the early period. LCFC put us on the back foot and pressurised the boys, keeping us in our own half. The worst moment came when Rob Holding handballed in his own penalty area, moments after being booked for a minor offence; thankfully the referee didn’t appear to see what everyone else in the stadium did, and we all breathed a collective sight of relief. Now the inevitable. Just after the half hour mark, The Foxes scored when Hector Bellerín was outpaced by the Leicester full-back, and although he got his leg in the way of the shot, it only served to redirect the ball into his own net. As we have seen before in other matches this season, being one down (particularly at home) suddenly wakes us up, and right on the stroke of half-time, our captain for the night, Mesut Özil, redressed the balance with a wonderful goal. He passed the ball to Hector Bellerín, who quickly managed to return it to our captain who finished the job off with a a perfect, yet silky left-footed shot that went in off the inside of the post.
The second half, as we have seen constantly this season, started with Arsenal powerful, in command, and confident. We played as if there was no other team on the pitch, and on the hour, Mr. Emery put his master plan into operation, starting with an inspired double substitution; Mattéo Guendouzi for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on for Stephan Lichtsteiner – now the fun began. Mesut Özil, undoubtedly the man-of-the-match, now really came into his own. He totally orchestrated proceedings in midfield, and our second goal was the hallmark of genius, courtesy of the skipper. He released Hector Bellerín who returned the ball quickly for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score our second of the night, and just three minutes later, he did it again, brilliantly dummying the ball before slotting it to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for his second goal (and our third) of the night. Fifteen minutes later, Mesut Özil was himself substituted for Aaron Ramsey, and it was heartening to see the crowd give the little man a well-deserved standing ovation for his tireless and selfless work on the night. By the now the stats told the true story, we had 81 per cent possession, and for the rest of the match, it was ours all the way, even despite The Foxes rattling the crossbar from a corner close to the end. A job well done, fourth in the Premiership, undefeated in ten matches across all competitions, and two points away from the leaders. Who would have thought it a few months ago?
Despite a slow start, we recovered extraordinarily well, and at times our football was truly breathtaking and a sight to behold. We still are porous at the back, and we need to work on that quickly, especially with some of the matches that we have in our calendar in the next month or so. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

10 reasons Arsenal will beat Leicester City + starting XI

  1. Arsenal are on a 9 game winning run
  2. January 2017 was the last time Arsenal failed to win a home game against a side not in the top 6
  3. That was a defeat to Watford. Since then it has been 22 homes wins in a row
  4. The best UK betting sites have Arsenal as 1/4 favourites
  5. Half of Arsenal’s starting XI did not go away on international duty
  6. And as it is a Monday nightgame, those players that did would have returned on Thursday and be nicely rested
  7. Unai Emery’s red and white army
  8. Leicester captain Wes Morgan serves a one-match ban for ohis red card in the defeat by Everton
  9. Winger Demarai Gray is also out injured 
  10. Leicester have failed to beat Arsenal in Islington since 1973

Predicted XI:


Bellerin Mustafi Holding Monreal

Torreira Xhaka

Iwobi Ozil Aubameyang



Eddie Nketiah’s lack of game time detrimental to his future

I am concerned about the future of Eddie Nketiah at Arsenal.

The Englishman is clearly a talented youth player. His record at youth level speaks for itself.

Over the last 2 and a bit seasons, he has been a consistent goal scorer at youth level.

33 games played over various different competitions at youth level for Arsenal; 28 goals. And he has carried that form over into an England shirt whom he averages a goal a game for.

At the age of 19, he has clearly out grown youth level football – even the Premier League 2 which is for U23 players. He is superior than anything there is.

Last season in the PL2 he scored 12 goals in 13 games. He was just 18 years old (playing against men 5 years older). This year he is already 4 in 4.

The huge issue Arsenal face is how does he get senior minutes?

Arsene Wenger was always of the view that 18-21 were the most important years in terms of development. It is at this age you want to be playing senior football to ensure that you progress from talented youth team player to senior professional.

A glance over at Chelsea highlights the struggle players face, and how it can ruin young talents.

Both Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah were amongst the best talents of their generation, but they did not play enough between 18 and 21 to progress.

Chalobah is now 23 years old. He has played just 21 Premier League games. Prior to joining Crystal Palace on loan, Loftus-Cheek had just 24 Premier League appearances to his name. Compare this to Dele Alli who had played over 100 Premier League games prior to his 22nd birthday and you will see why the Spurs player has kicked on and the two Chelsea lads have stagnated.

Nketiah faces the same problem that Loftus-Cheek and Chalobah did.

He is too good for youth team football, but has superior players ahead of him to get a chance at senior level. In May next year he will turn 20 with just a handful of Premier League games to his name.

I see people calling for Nketiah to start games, or at the least to get game time, but for that he needs to be better than those ahead of him.

Arsenal play with one up top. Alexandre Lacazette is currently our first choice striker. Were he to be injured, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would slot in. And backing them up is Danny Welbeck.

So for Nketiah to make a Premier League start, he needs 3 strikers to be out injured. He needs at least one to be injured just to make the bench (and even that is not guaranteed).

He is clearly not going to get into the Premier League match day squad ahead of Lacazette and Aubameyang, and you are an idiot if you think he should.

That leaves Welbeck.

Danny Welbeck is one of England’s best strikers. There is a reason he went to the World Cup. And with Jamie Vardy now retired, you would probably say he is 3rd choice England striker behind Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge (if the Liverpool striker continues his recovery from injury).

Welbeck has hit 4 goals in 9 starts this season, and is able to play the duel role of winger and striker. He has also become key when coming on to protect leads.

He works hard up top closing down defenders, has pace in to get behind on the break, and is big and strong to hold up the ball. He is the ideal man to bring on with 10 minutes to go when you are hanging on to the lead.

You would not want to give these minutes to Nketiah. There is a big difference between giving a kid a go when you are 5-0 up and cruising, and needing to bring on an experienced player to help see out a tight game.

There is only space for one of them on the bench. As games tend to be tighter more often than “easy wins” Welbeck is therefore more important.

Nketiah could get time in cup competitions. But with Welbeck’s Premier League playing time limited, you need to keep the senior man sharp. He has to play in the League Cup and Europa League.

Suddenly the doors are shutting on Nketiah’s first team opportunities.

This is where you need to think with your head, not your heart.

We all want that player to go from youth team level to senior superstar. One of our own. It leads us to believe that young players are better than what they are. It is why so many fans were willing to give Jack Wilshere chance after chance after injury after chance.

But realistically, Nketiah is our 4th best striker. It does not matter what you think, he is not better than Danny Welbeck.

So where does that leave him?

He is probably looking on in jealousy Emile Smith Rowe with a hint of jealousy.

Smith Rowe has played 3 senior games this season, and looks to continue that run as winter draws in. I imagine he will start every single League Cup and Europa League game this side of Christmas.

His advantage is that he does not have as much competition for places.

Nketiah is 4th in line for 1 position (striker). Smith Rowe is 7th in line for a place behind the striker (Aubameyang, Welbeck, Ozil, Mkihataryan, Iwobi & Ramsey). As he is capable of playing in all 3 positions behind the main man, he has plenty of opportunity for game time.

As 4 of the 6 ahead of Smith Rowe will be playing in the first team and therefore not considered for the League Cup / Europa League sides, a situation is created where the youngster will always make the team sheet.

Nketiah is being hamstrung by the increased competition.

Arsenal may well look at a loan deal for Nketiah in January. They will see Reiss Nelson getting game time in the Bundesliga and know how important it is for him to be playing.

But where could Nketiah go?

You would not really want him dropping down to the Championship, and would a lower league Premier League side take a risk on a youngster when facing a relegation battle? There will not be too many options for him to get regular, top flight game time.

There is light at the end of the tunnel for Nketiah though.

With Welbeck’s contract set to expire at the end of the season, a decision will have to be made.

If the club gives Welbeck a new contract, they might as well sell Nketiah on. My take is that Welbeck will leave, and Nketiah will be 3rd choice striker.

But at 20-years old, this will not solve Nketiah’s game time problem. He will still be sitting on the bench behind two world class finishers.

You then get into a Benik Afobe / Chuba Akpom situation where the talented young strikers age is creeping up, and he is being caught up by players younger.

Afobe’s career at Arsenal was ended when Akpom – 2 years his junior – started to break through. Akpom started get to get taken on pre-season tours and Afove was let go at 22.

The same also happened to Akpom. He was finally sold on this summer, also at the age of 22, as Arsenal looked to develop Nketiah.

The next generation below Nketiah is itching to progress.

Tyreece John-Jules (17) looks a talent. Trae Coyle (also 17) scored 7 goals in 13 games for the U18s last season. You then have 16-year old Sam Greenwood – signed from Sunderland last summer. He scored and got two assists as England U17s beat Brazil and has been in very good form recently.

Whilst these players at not yet ready to overtake Nketiah, you can see history repeating itself.

Role forward to the summer of 2020. 18 months time. Nketiah is still struggling for game time as Arsenal’s 3rd choice striker. He is 21. These lads are 18 or 19, they are banging in goals at youth team level.

They will do to Nketiah what he did to Akpom, and what Akpom did to Afobe.

Without regular first team football, Nketiah will stagnate. But with so much competition ahead of him, it is not obvious where that game time will come from.

And eventually Arsenal will have to decide whether to continue investing in his future, or starting giving chances to the next generation.