Arsene Wenger was full of praise for 18-year-old Eddie Nketiah after the striker came off the bench to grab a match-winning brace to send Arsenal through to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup at the expense of Norwich City.
Making his home debut, Nketiah scored with his first touch on 85 minutes to take the game to extra-time and then crashed home a headed winner as the Gunners ran out 2-1 winners against the Canaries.
After the match, it was pointed out to the boss that Nketiah is the first player to score for Arsenal who was not born when he first took over in 1996.
“I’m impressed that he wasn’t even conceived when I was first here,” remarked Wenger.
“Life gives chances to young people. We hope he has a proud career. Giving chances to young players is part of what this club is about.
He added: “He showed great anticipation in the box to score and that’s a quality that you cannot teach at that age,” Wenger said.
“I like the second goal that he scored because he’s not tall and he got very high – it shows that he’s a guy who wants it.”
Wenger made 11 changes from the side that beat Everton at the weekend, giving a debut to Matt Macey in goal and including a host of young talent, in addition to Nketiah, on the bench.
In addition to Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, three other Academy graduates, Chuba Akpom, Josh Dasilva and Jo Willock, got game time. It’s a situation that Wenger takes pride in.
“This is the competition every year that we decide to educate young players who have good potential,” he added.
“It is good to only have young players on the bench because if you have experienced players you go for them – having young strikers on the bench is great for us.”