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Arsenal reach Carabao Cup quarter-finals thanks to unlikely heroes as Bernd Leno shows he’s up for fight

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

If ever a game summed up the Carabao Cup, then Arsenal’s win over Leeds was pretty close to it.

Between the two teams, they made 13 changes to their respective starting XIs and it meant we had some unlikely heroes at Emirates Stadium.

Calum Chambers and Eddie Nketiah ultimately grabbed the headlines by getting the goals in a 2-0 win on an evening that failed to live up to the Friday night fireworks supplied when Arsenal beat Aston Villa.

That was hardly surprisingly however, given the fact Mikel Arteta made nine changes to the side who dismantled Villa 3-1.

Only Ben White and Emile Smith Rowe kept their places and, as a result, the Gunners played like a group of players short on minutes and chemistry.

It led to a disjointed first half that actually saw Leeds create the best chances, with Bernd Leno making good saves to deny Dan James and Jack Harrison.

As the game went on Arsenal began to find some rhythm, but it always felt like this would be a tie decided by the subs bench. In the end, it was, but not by likely heroes such as Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Instead, it was Chambers who came off the bench to score with his first touch. The defender was brought on in the 55th minute due to an injury to Ben White, which will have concerned Arteta, and he scored moments later from a corner. Chambers headed home and was mobbed by the bench after putting Arsenal ahead.

The game still hung in the balance, but Arsenal were gifted a second goal 21 minutes from the end. Liam Cooper tried to head the ball back to his goalkeeper, but it looped high into the air and Nketiah was able to steal in to score.

Another unlikely hero on a night where Arsenal got the job done, even if they weren’t at their best.

Maitland-Niles impresses in midfield

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

There were not too many standout performers from this win over Leeds, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles did catch the eye.

The 24-year-old has long wanted to play central midfield for Arsenal and he did his prospects no harm here at all.

Maitland-Niles broke up play well, screening the back four with ease, and was effective in possession, too.

Last season, Mohamed Elneny was ahead of Maitland-Niles in the pecking order, so much so he went on loan to West Brom in January, but that surely isn’t the case now.

Maitland-Niles deserves more minutes going forward.

Leno reminds Ramsdale he is waiting in wings

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Aaron Ramsdale has established himself as Arsenal’s No1, but this was a reminder from Leno that he is ready to step in when needed.

The German gave a solid performance against Leeds, particularly in the first half when he made a few good saves and was quick off his line.

Leno is going to find chances limited given Arsenal’s lack of European football, so it is vital he takes them when they come around.

This match was a perfect opportunity to impress and the German did so, reminding us all the value of having two top goalkeepers battling for the No1 shirt. Leno looks up for the fight.

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