Three Arsenal stars who gave Mikel Arteta food for thought vs Leeds and three who flopped

Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2021 by

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta rang the changes for the Carabao Cup clash at home to Leeds United on Tuesday. The Gunners ran out 2-0 winners over Marcelo Bielsa's side despite just two players who started the 3-1 win over Aston Villa being named in the starting XI. Express Sport looks at the fringe players who failed to impress, as well as those who gave Arteta something to think about.

Three players who gave Arteta food for thought

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Maitland-Niles started in midfield, a position he favours but has not often played for Arsenal.

The academy graduate has intriguing qualities for a central midfielder, including a burst of pace which shows why he has often been used as a wing-back.

At 24, Maitland-Niles has reached the point where should be pushing for a regular spot.

He showed glimpses against Leeds as having the potential to be one of Arsenal's midfield options moving forward.

Three Arsenal stars who gave Mikel Arteta food for thought vs Leeds and three who flopped
Eddie Nketiah scored against former side Leeds in the Carabao Cup (Image: GETTY)

Rob Holding

Holding was brought into the side in place of Gabriel and was given the armband.

Ben White was forced off with an injury in the second half, making him a doubt for Saturday's trip to Leicester.

Holding looked solid and is an option to step into White's shoes if he were not to be available.

The 26-year-old was comfortable taking the ball out from defence into the midfield, especially in the first half, giving Arteta confidence he can use him in league action.

He also limped off with 15 minutes remaining but it appeared to only be cramp.

Eddie Nketiah

Nketiah continued his fine record in the Carabao Cup by scoring Arsenal's second goal of the night.

The striker has entered the final year of his contract at the Emirates so is almost in now or never territory in terms of his Gunners career.

He has struggled to even make the bench in the Premier League this season but his work rate against Leeds, as well as a well-taken goal, proved he has the desire to prove Arteta he deserves more of a chance.

With Alexandre Lacazette's long-term future uncertain, a good season for Nketiah could enhance his chances of replacing the Frenchman.

Three players who flopped

Nicolas Pepe

Pepe was a regular starter in early season matches but has been in and out of the side in recent weeks.

And his performance on Tuesday proved Arteta was right to leave him out of last Friday's match against Aston Villa.

The Ivory Coast international constantly flatters to deceive and it was no different for the visit of Leeds.

He often ran into a cul-de-sac and had little-to-zero end product.

The Gunners' record signing should be starting to fulfil his potential by now but it appears he has gone backwards from his fine end to last season.

Three Arsenal stars who gave Mikel Arteta food for thought vs Leeds and three who flopped
Arsenal news: Gabriel Martinelli worked hard but for little reward (Image: GETTY)

Mohamed Elneny

With Granit Xhaka currently sidelined with a knee injury, Elneny is one of three recognised central midfield options for Arteta.

A strong showing against Leeds could have given Arteta a dilemma but the Egyptian did himself no favours.

Summer signing Albert Sambi Lokonga has already moved ahead of Elneny in the pecking order and you can see why.

Elneny is not at the level to be an Arsenal regular and surely won't be offered an extension to his contract that expires next summer.

Gabriel Martinelli

Martinelli showed so much promise during his first season at Arsenal.

However, the young Brazilian's injury problems have seemingly stalled his progress.

A lack of regular game time at this level can't be helpful for the forward.

But his performance tonight did not push his case for a starting spot in the Premier League.

He looked dangerous at times but lacked the end product needed to put pressure on the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.

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