Three things learned from Arsenal vs Sunderland
Arsenal booked their place in the semi finals of the Carabao cup with a victory over League 1 side Sunderland. Mikel Arteta named a much changed side but that did not prevent the Premier league side from running out comfortable winners with a 5-1 thumping.
Here are three key takeaways from the match:
Eddie is King Carabao
24th October 2017 was when Eddie Nketiah announced himself as a first team player for Arsenal. Two quickfire goals in a comeback win in extra time against Norwich confirmed what the young Englishman was all about- goals.
Since then the Hale-ender has been on a whirlwind of a journey. There was a failed loan move to Augsburg FC but Nketiah stayed to provide back up for Unai Emery’s incarnation of Arsenal. He finally got the temporary move he craved when he switched to Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds in the summer of 2019. There was a mixed reception for the Lewisham native, as he battled opinions over his general ability outside the box, as well as being second best to Patrick Bamford, who Bielsa favoured. Mikel Arteta later spoke of that loan spell being formative for Nketiah.
Fast forward, just over four years, and Eddie is England under 21’s all time top scorer with 16 goals in 17 appearances. Mikel Arteta is certain he wants to keep the 22 year old, amidst a contract stalemate, as he believes Nketiah has other qualities to offer. It remains to be seen whether this is the case. With the current exclusion of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Gabriel Martinelli’s boost in form, as well as some slight improvement in link play from Eddie himself, it may seem tempting to wait and see what could happen. One thing that is clear, is that Nketiah needs to play, and the best chance of that may be away from Arsenal. A hattrick last night would have done his chances no harm.
I shouted “The second coming of Andy Cole”, four years ago. Now it’s Eddie Nketiah- The King of Carabao.
Back up for Tomiyasu is important
It is beginning to look abundantly clear for all interested observers of Arsenal, that the fitness of Takehiro Tomiyasu will be tantamount to any success that the Gunners will have this season.
When the Japanese stopper limped off against Leeds United in the last Premier league game, it was apparent that the North Londoners do not have in reserve what Tomiyasu offers in his absence.
In the main, the former Bologna defender offers solidity in all phases of play and makes those around him perform better. He provides a base for Ben White to make foraging runs upfield as well as a good out ball, when playing through the press. His biggest asset is that he is extremely athletic and strong and that lends itself to him winning the vast majority of his duels.
The 23 year old is not bad in possession either, Arsenal fans have been treated to a flurry of clips on social media demonstrating his two footedness and this is how the Japanese defender is so press-resistant.
Arsenal started Cedric in his place and it would have been good for the Portuguese full back that he had a run out, however, in the system that Arteta wants to play, the demand on the right back, would seem ill-suited for the attributes of Cedric. With Callum Chambers out of favour and with Ainsley Maitland Niles thought of as a midfield option, Competition for Tomiyasu may have moved up the to-do list.
Hale End stand up
The League cup has always been a breeding ground for young talent from the academy to thrive and make their first steps in professional football. Anyone remember Sanchez Watt against West Brom in 2009? Or Carlos Vela’s hattrick against Sheffield United in 2008? Some of the players that perform well in this competition do not end up in the Arsenal first team but they do make careers elsewhere.
Since Per Mertesacker took over the academy, there have been a number of Hale end stars fast tracked into the first team. Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock to name a few. Arsenal want the spirit of the club to ingratiate with the seniors. As there has been so many youngsters immediately ready for first team football and they have become so important so quickly, there has been less of a need to play those almost fully reserve teams in this competition.
Against Sunderland, Emile Smith Rowe, Folarin Balogun, Eddie Nketiah all played their part and continue to show why Hale end is so highly rated in the football world.
Arsenal are showing that they continue to produce gems, as 18 year old Charlie Patino came off the bench to net the fifth goal. It was a nod to all those fun league cup ties in the late 2000s that Arsene Wenger loved to blood youngsters in. Patino became the 886th player to play for the Arsenal first team, and there is hope that this is a player that can play at a very high level. No pressure then!