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Ainsley Maitland-Niles tries his luck with Arsenal but Nicolas Pepe’s frustration lingers after Leeds Carabao Cup win

Given the fact that Mikel Arteta made nine changes, Tuesday night was always going to be an opportunity for Arsenal’s fringe players to claim more minutes.

In the end, some have shown why they deserve more chances, while others have shown why they are on the sidelines right now.

Considering Arsenal advanced to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals with a relatively routine victory, it seems fair to start with the positives and those who seized the opportunity.

Chief among them were Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Eddie Nketiah, two players who have spent all summer being linked with Arsenal departures and still have an uncertain future ahead of the January transfer window.

Whether they showcase Tuesday or not, they certainly haven’t hurt their chances for more action at Arsenal.

Nketiah caught Arsenal’s second goal, scoring in a typical way for the 21-year-old as his tireless support was rewarded when he jumped on a lost header from Liam Cooper to Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier. Maitland-Niles, meanwhile, impressed in the middle of the park as he interrupted play and started the attacks with a good range of passes.

“Today I felt he (Maitland-Niles) had a really good performance,” said Arteta. “We used him a lot and at different times he played minutes.

“He can cover different positions which is the bonus that Ainsley has and again he kept trying and trying to improve every day.”

Everton wanted to sign Maitland-Niles on loan this summer and you expect the suitors to return in January. The same goes for Nketiah, who was a target for Crystal Palace before a decision collapsed on personal terms. Now the forward could leave for free at the end of the season, although Arteta has said he wants him to stay.

“I have no doubts that he is going to be a top player and hopefully at Arsenal,” Arteta said. “I have no doubt what he can offer.

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“Whatever you throw at him he wants more and demands more of himself, and he’s another one whose performance I’m delighted to see and that he scores the goal and helps the team because he deserves it. totally.”

Nketiah’s 69th-minute goal was Arsenal’s second of the night. Their first came 14 minutes earlier when Calum Chambers returned home with his first touch of the game.

The defender was on hand to score after Nicolas Pepe regained a corner from the other side of the box, but the Ivorian’s assist masks what was otherwise a frustrating night for him.

Pepe’s last ball was missing, and while there was a moment of cunning or skill, it wasn’t followed with the quality needed to carve out a chance.

We’ve seen those nights before with Pepe, whose career at Arsenal has been defined by his inconsistency. In his day, the 26-year-old may be unplayable but the frustration is that that doesn’t happen enough for a player who cost £ 72million.

Pepe wasn’t the only one who didn’t try his luck on Tuesday and the same could arguably be said of Mohamed Elneny, who was eclipsed by Maitland-Niles. Gabriel Martinelli didn’t shine either and, despite what Arteta says, it looks like he would get a loan.

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Overall, however, Arteta will be very happy with a win which now means Arsenal are undefeated in their last eight games.

This is something that happens when you consider that two months ago on Thursday they were beaten 5-0 by Manchester City on their way to a third consecutive Premier League loss.



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