Arsenal 2-1 Norwich: The emergence of Eddie

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It would be reasonable to say that for 85 minutes the performance against Norwich was not one that would live long in the memory. It wasn’t even bad enough to be distinctive – like that time I ordered a burger in a bar and they literally just gave me a burger, no bun, just a splodge of dry, overcooked meat. With some peas beside it on the plate.

We huffed and puffed, then puffed and huffed, and after 35 minutes we went behind when some lad played some chap called Murphy got through and in direct contravention to the law that is named after him it didn’t go wrong and he chipped Matt Macey to make it 1-0 to Norwich.

After that it seemed to be some kind of weird art installation where Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin took turns to see who could be most frustrating.

Theo: “Look at me. I am offside for the millionth time!”

Coquelin, booting a cross-field pass out of play for a Norwich throw: “Hold my beer!”

It looked like this was it for our Carabao Cup run. We didn’t create very much, the keeper’s most decisive action was in the first half when he saved from Rob Holding, and time was running out. Arsene Wenger had put on Chuba Akpom for Maitland-Niles but people were getting restless.

Not me though. I had a feeling. I knew something was cooking, and I said as much with more than 20 minutes of the game still to go:

I was expecting his introduction a bit earlier, but with just over 5 minutes left Arsene Wenger threw on the 18 year old as we prepared to take a corner. The youngster’s first touch was to poke the ball home from close range to equalise and ultimately send the game into extra-time.

In the first half of that, another Walcott corner found Nketiah and his leap and header into the top corner was genuinely fantastic. When you look at the size of him and the size of the opposition, the timing and technique required was just brilliant and the crowd’s chants of ‘Eddie! Eddie!’ made coming from behind even more fun.

There’s something wonderful about seeing a young player have that kind of impact in a game. It made up for most of what came before it, which was pretty woeful in fairness, and at a time when we’re all desperate for something different, this young man provided two moments which he’ll treasure and which will hopefully be just the beginning of what he contributes to the club.

Afterwards, Arsene Wenger said of the 18 year old:

Life gives chances to young people. We hope he has a proud career. Giving chances to young players is part of what this club is about. He showed great anticipation in the box to score and that’s a quality that you cannot teach at that age.

I like the second goal that he scored because he’s not tall and he got very high – it shows that he’s a guy who wants it.

I wonder will he, his impact, and the overall performance, change the manager’s outlook a bit. He spoke previously about how this was a competition which allowed him to play the senior players who find themselves on the fringe of the first team, but ultimately they had to be rescued by one of the club’s emerging talents – something much more in line with how he’s used players in the League Cup before.

What we should say, however, is that this season – given this competition and the Europa League – Wenger is managing two distinct teams. What we can do in the Premier League with the likes of Ozil, Alexis and Lacazette is much more difficult to replicate when you’re playing the likes of Iwobi, Walcott and Giroud. There’s a quality gap which varies, of course, but they’re also different kinds of players, so it can’t be easy.

There were no senior options on the bench, something he was asked about afterwards, making the point:

The boy Eddie is a good example. I just said that if I had experienced players on the bench, strikers for example, I would certainly in the end have put them on and not Eddie. Here you have no chance to put an experienced player on, so you try to find a young player who can give you a chance. If we speak about Eddie, it is because there was no experienced striker on the bench.

So, it is a balancing act, and one that might well be frustrating. However, even if the performances in Belgrade and last night weren’t brilliant overall, we’ve had superb climaxes that everyone should enjoy. Giroud’s brilliant goal against Red Star, and now the introduction of a youngster whose goals added real energy to the stadium and everyone watching last night. If that’s the trade off, it’s not a bad one.

Right, that’s that from me for now. I’m off to Australia this morning, and a reminder for Gooners in Melbourne and Sydney that I’ll be appearing at the Sports Writers Festival – details of events and tickets here. I’ll leave you in the company of Andrew Allen tomorrow, but after that I should blogging at upside-down o’clock once I get my head around time zones.

There’ll be more reaction to last night over on Arseblog News: Voice-over bloke voice: “It’s all Eddie, all the time”.

Have a good one.


  1. I was driving to work in NYC on the 80th minute. Streaming on the phone and already made my peace with a lose…felt like it just wasn’t our day. But what did I know! Almost bumped into a parked car at the 85th min, trying to look at the phone screen…pulled over to the site and watched the rest of the game and was late to work….but it was fu**ing worth it!….Eddie!

  2. In 35 minutes he has done more for Arsenal than Ozil has done all season.
    I hope he goes on to be a big player for us – he certainly has the attitude for it.
    Well done Eddie !

  3. It’s probably only me who remembers the ’60s tune Just Like Eddie but anyway:
    He now plays for Arsenal
    He was once a blue
    And Wenger thinks he’s ready.
    He just scored his first goal
    And then made it two
    We all love Eddie!

    Coat. Me. Get.

  4. I missed the game but I really look forward to progressing in this competition. Even if we can’t win the league, it would be great to get some of the cups this season.

  5. This is what makes me watch the League Cup. Giving a chance to new players is in Arsenal’s DNA and that’s what excites me. I just had a look at the other club’s lineups and they had a maximum of 2-3 young players. A very brave move by Wenger indeed and kudos for continuing our values!!

    Time for the likes of Nelson, Willock and Niles to follow the footsteps of Eddie!!


  6. Eddie you beauty.

    Made suffering Giroud and Theo worthwhile. Shocking from those 2. Coquelin garbage.

    Neny shite.

    But Eddie. You beauty. Bravo.

  7. What I really liked was that in the last minute, with the ball on the right-hand side and a chance to power through and take a shot at a hat-trick…he headed for the corner to run down the clock. That shows the maturity of the guy…

    • Why the downvote? Because of the time-difference, I went to sleep upset, knowing that we were one goal behind. Imagine the pure elation when I woke up and read about what happened. The dramatic heroics of Eddie Nketiah really gave me a great start to the day. Such ‘Magic of the Cup’ is what makes football great and keeps us fans feeling so alive.

  8. I’m probably getting ahead of myself here but I would like to see Eddie come on as an impact substitute in PL games. He should be the first name on the bench? No pressure..

  9. Theo I believe is not happy playing in the reserve team – and he´s not really that good. Has many qualities from toes up to the neck. Our beloved Coq on the other hand is rusty and needs playtime.

  10. Didn’t see the match but the second goal really is outstanding. For a guy who can’t be taller than 5’11” to jump this high and smash it home from a corner is amazing

  11. ‘Before the game had even finished, some opportune soul had changed Nketiah’s Wikipedia page to include the line: “He is widely considered the best player of all time.”

    From: Evening Standard


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