In Brief

Carabao Cup: Eddie Nketiah steals the show for Arsenal

Gunners defeat brave Norwich in extra time to reach the quarter-finals

Arsenal 2 Norwich City 1

Who needs Alexis Sanchez when there’s Eddie Nketiah? Arsenal's 18-year-old forward stole the show in a glorious cameo that broke the hearts of brave Norwich City at last night's clash at the Emirates.

The Canaries looked to be on course to reach the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup after Josh Murphy put them ahead in the first-half.

It was nothing less than the Championship side deserved after a gutsy display at the Emirates against an Arsenal XI that, although entirely different from the side that beat Everton at the weekend, still oozed class.

Mathieu Debuchy, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud all started, but failed to make much of an impression for most of the match and a major upset looked on the cards.

Enter Nketiah. Introduced as a substitute five minutes from time, the England Under-19 needed merely 15 seconds to draw Arsenal level. A swinging corner from the left was flicked on by Francis Coquelin and the teenager poked the ball past Angus Gunn.

That took the tie into extra time and Nketiah required only six minutes to find the net again, this time powering a header into the net from Mohamed Elneny’s cross. He would have had a hat-trick, but for a sharp save from Gunn, but two goals were enough to take Arsenal into today’s draw for the quarter-final of a competition they’ve never won in the 21 years of Arsene Wenger’s reign.

“I brought him on because we needed to score goals and he can score goals,” said the Arsenal boss of the former Chelsea youth player. “I knew he had quality, but when the team need you and you deliver, that’s another quality you don’t know about until you go on the pitch."

Informed by reporters that Nketiah is the first Gunner born after his appointment as Gunners manager in 1996 to score for the club, Wenger replied: “I’m impressed to think that he was not even conceived when I was already here. But it’s good as well because life gives chances to young people. Hopefully he’ll have a long career at Arsenal.

“We're proud to give chances to young players, it’s part of our DNA and we want to continue to do that… I don’t know why exactly Chelsea let him go or if he decided to leave, but young players more and more nowadays travel from one club to another. We’re happy to have him.”

Before he gets too carried away, Wenger and the Arsenal faithful should remember there is a graveyard of recent Gunners forwards whose careers died a death after early promise: Walcott is one, so too Nicklas Bendtner, Yaya Sanogo, Francis Jeffers, Christopher Wreh and Park Chu Young.

So there is a long way to go if Nketiah’s to avoid joining that underachieving list and instead be ranked alongside the likes of Alan Smith, Ian Wright, Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry.

But the early signs are encouraging. As Henry himself tweeted: “What a night for @EddieNketiah9. So happy for him and not surprised at all1”

Last night’s Carabao Cup fourth-round results

  • Arsenal 2 Norwich City 1 (AET) 
  • AFC Bournemouth 3 Middlesbrough 1 
  • Bristol City 4 Crystal Palace 1 
  • Leicester City 3 Leeds United 1 
  • Swansea City 0 Manchester United 2 
  • Manchester City 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 (AET, Manchester City win 4-1 on penalties)

Tonight’s Carabao Cup fourth round fixtures

  • Chelsea vs Everton (7.45pm) 
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United (8pm)

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