Three debutants as Arsenal edge past West Brom in Capital One Cup

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images Europe

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images Europe

Capital One Cup

West Bromwich Albion 1 Arsenal 1 (a.e.t., Arsenal won 4-3 on penalties)

It may have taken extra-time and penalties following a rather stale 90 minutes, but an Arsenal side containing a mix of youth and experience eventually prevailed past West Bromwich Albion on penalties this evening to seal a place in the Fourth Round of the Capital One Cup, where they will face Chelsea at Emirates Stadium.

It is also worth noting that you can keep tabs on the latest Capital one Cup and Fa Cup odds at bwin. The Gunners are currently 4th favourites to take the FA Cup and 5th favourites in the Captial one Cup.

After a first-half containing few incidents of note, the game was lit up by Thomas Eisfeld’s first competitive goal on 61 minutes, but West Brom equalised through a youngster of their own in Saido Berahino to force extra-time. Penalties eventually followed and, despite Serge Gnabry missing, West Brom squandered two spot-kicks in succession, allowing Nacho Monreal to score the decisive penalty following a long evening.

The game itself will not be remembered too fondly, but, over the course of the evening, Arsene Wenger handed debuts to three youngsters in Isaac Hayden, Kristoffer Olsson and Hector Bellerin, whilst Chuba Akpom also emerged off the bench and made a positive impression. Although he did not come on, there was a maiden call-up too for 17 year old Alex Iwobi.

Hayden started the game and was largely impressive, with the England youth international retaining the ball well, although he was perhaps fortunate to only receive a yellow card for a rash challenge on Youssouf Mulumbu in the first-half.

Olsson, meanwhile, scored his penalty kick, but otherwise did not have too much of an impact after coming on late in normal time, whilst Bellerin was introduced once extra-time got underway, with the young Spaniard rather surprisingly deployed in central-midfield.

Despite the presence of several youngsters in midfield especially, there was some experience in this side, with Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen and Monreal all involved from the offset. At the other end of the field Nicklas Bendtner was making his first Arsenal appearance for two years and, although the Danish striker claimed an assist for Eisfeld’s well-struck effort, he really should have scored when presented with an opportunity of his own late on.

Instead he laboured in possession to add to an evening of frustration when wingers Serge Gnabry and Ryo, despite showing glimpses of their undoubted potential, also failed to make a sustained impression.

Carl Jenkinson was largely impressive at right-back, but Arsenal survived several scares late on, particularly when West Brom substitute Morgan Amalfitano struck the crossbar with a deft effort. Amalfitano, along with Craig Dawson, would go on to miss his penalty, with Akpom and Olsson both converting theirs.

Akpom showed some of his promise in the closing stages with some direct runs at the opposition defence, but, as had been the case all evening, Arsenal couldn’t find the breakthrough in open play.

Penalties proved the difference, however, and despite the ever-increasing amount of injuries currently afflicting the first-team squad, tonight’s encounter can be seen as a very positive learning experience for Arsenal’s youngsters.

Arsenal: Fabianski; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal; Arteta (Bellerin 95), Hayden (Olsson 84); Gnabry, Eisfeld (Akpom 82), Ryo; Bendtner. Not used: Viviano, Flamini, Park, Iwobi. 



  1. i’m surprised you thought Hayden played well. I thought of all the youngsters he was weakest. Looked all of the place for me, mistimed challenges, second to the ball a lot. I don’t think it was much of a surprise that we retained the ball better when Olsson came on and he was much calmer on the ball.

    1. We retained the ball better when Olsson came on because at that late stage of the match WBA were tiring. Olsson would not have been allowed to perform the way he did in the first half and for much of the second when he would have been afforded much less time and space. That’s why AW brought him on when he did. Hayden’s strength and defensive abilities were no longer required as WBA could no longer press us as hard and make it a scrap in midfield so he was sacrificed for a more nimble, creative player to try and wrestle back the initiative. But Hayden did the job he was required to do well. I thought his positioning was very good, his distribution was simple but sharp and confident and for me he was the best youngster of the first half. Ryo and Eisfeld were mostly invisible in the first period and Gnabry was busy but very little of what he tried was coming off.

    1. Yeah I would like a head up on frimpong’s situation. He is suddenly not being mentioned or included not even in the injured list?????

  2. I think Gnabry, Hayden and Akpom were impressive and Bellerin and Ollson did well when they came on. Without doing anything spectacular (maybe apart from his pass to put NB52 through), Gnabry was very solid and I was impressed by his engine, still running strong after 120 minutes. Only downfall is that he won’t be starting at the weekend after 120 minutes here but these two performances should mean that he will be thoroughly in Wenger’s mind from now on and we should see quite a bit of him until our wingers return from injuries.

    Eisfeld and Myiaichi didn’t get involved enough and both really need some experience out on loan.

  3. Couldn’t see the game but seems no one bar akpom was particularly good though he was on for a very short period. Wouldn’t really expect much from hayden as it was his full debut away from home. People seem to underestimate the implications of this. Obviously everyone is different but I can imagine no matter how hard you try it may be impossible to brace for the atmosphere particularly when you previously play in front of a relatively sparse crowd of under a 1000 most of the time. I remember having to give presentations at school for classes under 30 people and struggled to string two words together as as result! Took 3 yrs to get mildly used to it.

    Bit worried about gnabry and ryo but still have high hopes for both as in gnabry’s case he’s obviously nowhere near as expressive as he is for the youth while ryo has not only had injuries to contend with but those injuries have made it impossible to take his development to the next stage. People forget he hasn’t undergone the training most of his colleagues have due to coming from school. Gnabry still well on his way to being a main stay IMO but I think ryo may have to compete with Jeffrey’s who I think is pretty under rated.

    1. I think Maitland-Niles is better than Jeffrey. His style is a lot more dynamic while Jeffrey is more pace and power. To make it at Arsenal you won’t be able to run like that in the PL when 9 players are defending. Ryo try the same thing and his style is the same.. I would love to see more dynamic play from him. Like Gnabry is doing. He really try to pass and think link up play.

      I think most did well and Hayden was good. Sure he timed tackles wrong sometimes but was calm and did a lot of good things.

      1. Would agree with that. That’s certainly the criteria when playing any winger but that’s precisely why we could do with Jeffrey’s. He different from the others in that he prefers dribbling with pace than linking and playmaking but at the same time he’s not exactly a slouch when it comes to passing and linking. Also those are attributes that may be possibly coached into him as he progresses. I realise its unlikely but if for no reason other than curiosity it would be interesting to see how he would adapt if we come across a dead rubber at some point of the season.

      2. I don’t think his passing is all wrong but we’ll see if something happens. When I try to think of wingers who are only pace, power and shot, then I can’t think of anyone in a world class team. Thats why he must develop his passing a lot more than shot, pace and dribblings. Walcott only shows passing skills and real vision last season I think. I mean really good passing. But Gnabry and Akpom is doing it right now already. Also Walcotts passing is really inconsistent.

        We got really good youngsters coming up so lets see what happens.

  4. Great to see Isaac not only starting the game but getting 80 odd mins..
    also well done Chuba stepping up and scoring a penalty ( pressure situation) now keep with these young stars, dont leave them in the 21s until the next round give them a few minutes in a prem game.

  5. Hayden did his job, not the most skilluful midfielder but very useful and energic. Wenger was right leaving Olsson on the bench and let him playing the last bit of the match against tired opponents as at beginning we needed more energy rather than skills. I did expect Olsson starting – I’m aa great fan of the swedish -but seeing the match I think was the best decision to introduce Olsson later on. Gnabry wasn’t overwhelming but we all should remember he’s 18 and he played a good match at Emirates in PL just three days ago so it’s normal that his performance may not be always at top level. Anyway good to see we can rely on him when we need.

  6. When I remember the early days of Alex Song (misplaced passes, losing balls mistimed tackles etc..) I think Hayden will come good with time, the boy did great & like Song Wenger should give him chances and have faith in him. Greetings from Mombasa, Kenya.

  7. Eisfeld wasn’t great at all last night, except for his goal. He has a great striker’s instinct. But playing 1 up top won’t accommodate for a player who only scores goals. We rely on Giroud to win headers, hold up the ball and run the channels – things that don’t seem particularly natural to Eisfeld.
    I thought Hayden was quite impressive, his rash tackle aside.
    A little disappointed in Vermaelen not taking a penalty and allowing 3 teenagers to step up instead, particularly Gnabry who practically limped there.
    It was nice to see how much it meant to Chuba as well, he was jubilant after Monreal scored.

  8. From this site, it seems you have a lot of knowledge of the youth teams Jeorge Bird. I’m really curious, what has happened to Jon Toral? I know he was injured last season, but I haven’t seen him anywhere yet this season.

  9. Thomas Eisfeld was invisible before and after his goal. For the vast majority of the match it felt like i was watching individuals rather than a team. I honestly felt Wenger tactically got it wrong last night. He should have played Gnabry through the middle he was willing to get involved in attacks and link the play. Ryo did his defensive duties but his decision making in the final third was reminiscent of departed Yao Kouassi. Both Ryo and Gnabry had a great opportunity to show Wenger that they could fill in for Walcott but they failed to take it.

    1. I don’t agree. Gnabry did well vs Stoke with good players around him. We won Westbrom and this was his second match only. He was clearly one of the stars of the midfielders and strikers. Ryo and Eisfeld was invisible for the most part. Ryo in particular was both invisible and wasteful. Now I don’t have anything against Ryo but I saw what I did yesterday. If he would have been really good yesterday I would have said so and would have regret my words for sure.

      If Gnabry will be as good as he was against Stoke then he clearly can play for our team again and again… but lets see if he will be that consistent, which I think he will. He is a smart kid. Can’t imagine him go against experience Chelsea players with head down. He will pass the ball.

      1. Was this article let alone my comment about the Stoke game. To say Ryo was invisible is a ridiculous statement. Read what I said about Gnabry but to be honest with you if you asked me if I thought he will make the first team I would say no. I have seen Ryo torch defenders whilst he was out on loan to Bolton. His main issue is a lack of confidence due to a string of injuries. There is a reason why Wenger said he wasn’t going to go out on loan.

      2. This lack of confidence talk doesn’t make sense to me. Unless you know the player you can say that. He is is playing for Arsenal in PL and is around top quality players all the time. HOW much lack of confidence are we talking here? What if he is bad? I mean not every single confidence player make it. The quality is the most important thing and that is what I think he lacks.

        I have seen Ryo do some good things and TONS of shit things. Just because he is doing a few good things doesn’t mean he has the talent to make it all the way when the fact is he is doing tons of bad things too.

        Yeah maybe the reason has to do with the lack of numbers in the first team too? When I say invisible I mean he wasn’t doing a lot of things. Exactly what did you see ryo do last night? You mean he was running back and defended? WOW…………….. all the players was running back to defend. What can he do WITH the ball is what matters.

        I just don’t get some people. You have seen Ryo tear defenders apart? REALLY?????????? when?

      3. Jom you are a ridiculous individual. You contradict yourself and you make no sense. Clearly you are no fan of Ryo but he is still only 20 and it’s people like you who think that they need to be the finished article now. Ryo is still very raw but you got to be blind not to see the potential that he has. Theo Walcott was very similar at the same age.

      4. Yeah I am no fan because I think he is bad. I also say why he is bad and clearly he is bad. You must be blind to not see that. I mean he was only wanted by 2 premier league team who went down fast and now is in Championship. They wanted him again there. Amazing talent right there. Oh and if you want to compare walcott then lets do this… he was shit the first 4 seasons. So there you go. I still don’t think he is all that good today. Walcott was giving all the chances in the world to develop to what he is today.

        Until Ryo proves me wrong then I am ready to say he is good. I also think Zaha is real shit. I don’t care if he is player of the year for championship. He is really bad.

        If Ryo stay away from injuries and will never be as good as you expected you will be the first to say he has lost his confidence. He was NOT playing regularly for Wigan when he was fit. Just remember that. When he eventually got his chances he got injured and from there on he couldn’t come back from injuries. I can admit that. But in the beginning he was not injured. I never said anything about finnish article. I talk about the potential and talent and compare him to Gnabry and Akpom. gnabry has NEVER been on loan. Keep in mind. And yet I think he is better. Clearly he is because he is playing ahead and is doing extremely good for a good player, not only for his age. CLEARLY he is doing so. And CLEARLY I got this one right. I see the potential in Gnabry. Not in Ryo. You think he will be as good as Walcott… good luck with this one since walcott only needed 4 seasons to show real quality despite playing regularly. And we also got the best manager in the world for developing talents. I think we have at least 2 more youngsters coming up who will leapfrog Ryo. Just wait and see.

  10. Im sorry i though Ryo was solid defensively. Full of energy and constantly running the ball down and tracking back. That to me is enough to earn him a 6 in my book… he gave us width with his constant runs on the side and at least kept the full back busy and unable to contribute on the attack. He needs work on his passing but i remember walcott at that age and his passing was absolutely dreadful. The boy needs confidence and I think Wenger did the right thing letting him see the field. As for Frimpong… he doesnt get it. He needs to get off twitter and video games and concentrate on taking his game to the next level. Sure he is a brute tackler and a defensive midfielder but how much better is he than the average DM in the league? To play our system you need to be all of the aforementioned but smarter and a better passer. Which is where Flamini and Arteta have him beat by a mile.

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