Another midweek match and another set of whole scale changes in the squad as Arsenal welcomed Championship side Norwich City to the Emirates for this edition of the Energy Drink League Cup. And as is usual, we did a proper Arsenal job of it waiting until the waning minutes to see it through.
Still, there were some things that we could garner from the match and here it is in this recent installment of YAMA’s Three Things We Learned.
The Kids Are Alright
Arsenal especially under Wenger have a history of relying heavily on youth team members to fill out the roster for such events like the League Cup. Last night was no exception as Arsene Wenger made 11 changes from the league side that decimated Everton on the weekend.
Of those 11, quite a few were from the recent crop of “promising” youth. But as Arsenal fans players like Denilson were considered promising youth and we saw how that worked out.
This, however was a night that showed that when many youth products fail to show up, others shine and make us a dream of their futures.
The press are abuzz with the star performance of 18 year old striker Eddie Nketiah. Coming on late in the game in the 85th minute, Netiah took his position for a corner kick and just as quickly equalized the game by tapping in a ball the skirted through the Norwich defense.
Then in extra time it was the debutant again who headed home another corner to seal the win for the Arsenal. And just like that a star was born. With social media being what it was, Nketiah was praised a savior and had even me calling out for him to be awarded the Bal’On Dor now.
Nketiah wasn’t the only youth product to shine on the night. Reiss Nelson, widely regarded as another star in the making, was shunted out to the wing back position. I say shunted because according to twitter this isn’t his normal position and it’s crazy to put him there.
Needless to say, defying all the twitter critics, Nelson put on a stellar performance all night long. He effectively used his size and speed to get behind Norwich defenders repeatedly last night. If there was a shortcoming to his game, it was the poor crossing into the box.
In an era when more and more Premier League clubs never see their academy products mature to the first team, it was refreshing to see 2 youngsters grab the brass ring. It’s these times, in the League Cup and Europa League, that these players need to prove to the manager (and the fans) that they have what it takes to be the next generation of Arsenal stars.
The Adults Are NOT Alright
While the kids are using every opportunity to show their mettle successfully, that really can’t be said of many of the fringe first team players.
The likes of the Europa League and League Cup must be their platform to show the manager that they deserve to be thought of for regular contention in the first team. But last night, not one of the senior players showed enough to say, “let me in.”
For a player like Jack Wilshere it was good to get the game in and see that his health is getting back to peak levels. It was hard to tell whether Jack had a good or bad night. There were no runners in front of him and he lingered on the ball far too long. Its hard to tell which is a by-product of which. I give Jack a little pass on last night because in every other outing in the Europa League and League Cup, Jack has been the bright spot and engine that drove the team forward.
However, the same can’t be given to Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud who were at best casual participants in last night’s affairs. Theo Walcott was repeatedly offside and not much of a threat going
forward. Olivier Giroud’s often killer touch looked to leave him and he wasn’t much of a threat when Arsenal had position deep in the Norwich end.
All in all, on a night when some of the junior names made big names for themselves, the senior names did very little to give anyone hope that they can be used to help us going forward in the season.
Old League Cup; New Rules
I have to admit – I got confused last night in extra time. When Cameron Jerome came on, I was frantically counting the number of subs that came on previously and was like . . “WAIT WHAT?!?!?!” Seems I had forgotten that there new rule changes in effect.
The funny thing was that new rule changes seemed to confuse everyone because it was being claimed post-match that Arsenal had violated the new rules when their 3rd and 4th subs were done in extra time.
The rules state:
“Each team is permitted up to seven substitutes of whom not more than three may take part in the match.
“Where any match goes to extra-time each club will be permitted to use an additional sub (in extra-time only).”
The thing was Arsenal weren’t the only team to do it this way. City used their subs similarly last night and in fact prior to last night 7 other teams did similarly. Still, none of that, even the clarification of the rules stopped twitter from its usual hilarity.
— Cootahell (@amimont2) October 24, 2017
@FA are arsenal going to be penalised for breaking the subs used rule during extra time against Norwich
— jeremy evans (@jezevan2014) October 25, 2017
— TRIG (@TrigEngland) October 25, 2017
Settle down boys. Just drink those tears in.