‘Eddie, Eddie, Eddie’: Teenage sub saves Arsenal’s blushes in cup comeback against Norwich
Gunners head to quarter-finals after late escape
25 October, 2017 — By Paul Cowling
Arsenal left it until the last five minutes to draw level against the Championship side
ARSENAL 2 (Nketiah 85, 96)
NORWICH CITY 1 (Murphy 34)
After extra time
SUBSTITUTE sensation Eddie Nketiah pulled Arsenal back from the brink, with two late goals to send the club into the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup.
But the Gunners needed extra time to do it against their stubborn, well-drilled and attacking opponents. Admittedly the Championship side were tiring, but this was a landmark performance from the prolific England youth striker.
And it wasn’t just two goals. Nketiah was scintillating, getting Arsenal fans talking in the Emirates and in the pubs and on social media afterwards
“At Arsenal we are proud to give young players a chance, said Arsene Wenger, after he had witnessed Nketiah’s star turn. “He has confidence, he is not afraid and he scores goals. Eddie has shown he has the qualities that the team needs.”
But when asked about comparisons with Arsenal legend, Ian Wright, Wenger was quick to say: “Let’s not be too quick.”
Wenger unsurprisingly made 11 changes from the side that dismantled Everton at the weekend. The 18 year old Nketiah formed part of a youthful bench which yielded little first team experience.
Wenger gave a first team bow to 23 year old keeper Matt Macey. With nothing to do during a dire opening third of the game, Macey was left to pick the ball out of the net on 34 minutes, when Norwich striker Josh Murphy lifted the ball over the advancing 6″6′ giant.
On 39 minutes, Macey palmed away a goal bound effort from Portuguese forward Nelson Oliveira, as the chirpy Canaries looked to capitalise on their lead.
Wenger was visibly chewing his nails for much of the second half, as Norwich continued to launch marauding attacks on the Gunners and frustrate them at the other end by repelling Arsenal’s weak response.
On 56 minutes, Oliveira was one-on-one with Macey, but was hurled back by Mohamed Elneny – the Egyptian was lucky not to have been shown a red card.
Norwich continued to press, though Murphy should have done better when through on goal on 72 minutes, but he lifted the ball into the seats of the near 9,000 visiting fans. Then Mario Vrancic missed a great chance
to make it 2-0, but he drilled the ball wide from close range.
With still more than 10 minutes to go, many Gunners fans had had enough and left for their buses and trains.
Norwich fans looked at their watches; Wenger sent on Nketiah. Within seconds, the marksman pounced for the equaliser.
“Eddie, Eddie” the home fans sang of their new hero. Arsenal fans who had slumped out of the stadium, were beginning to wish they hadn’t gone home so early.
Both sides started again with extra time.
Six minutes in Theo Walcott looked certain to put Arsenal ahead, but Angus Gunn palmed the effort away for a corner. But from Elneny’s flag kick, Nketiah rose majestically to head the ball into the net.
“He (Nketiah) isn’t tall, but he showed he has a good leap and a determined attitude,” echoed Wenger.
Arsenal fans were standing up with all the excitement as the ‘Eddie’ chants got louder. …and even louder.
Nketiah was sensational sprinting half the length of the field, to force a save from Gunn.
At the other end, Norwich and their fans screamed for a penalty as Debuchy tustled with James Husband. But, a spot kick would have been harsh.
There was still time for Nketiah to wow Arsenal fans even further.
The new hero curled a shot just wide of the top of the Norwich net. Perhaps a hat trick from the bench was asking too much, but this was a performance for Arsene Wenger to sit up and take notice.
Asked if Nketiah was ready for the Premier League, Wenger said: “I won’t rule anything out.
ARSENAL: Macey; Debuchy, Elneny, Holding; Coquelin, Wilshere (Willock
114); Nelson (Nketiah 85), Maitland-Niles (Akpom 70); Walcott, Iwobi
(Dasilva 105); Giroud
Subs not used: Iliev, Sheaf, Osei-Tutu
NORWICH CITY: Gunn; Pinto (C), Zimmermann, Klose, Husband; Reed (Jerome 101),
Trybull; Vrancic (Hoolahan 90+2), Maddison (Wildschit 90+2), Murphy
(Stiepermann 72) ; Oliveira
Subs not used: Martin, Franke, McGovern