Arsenal starlet Eddie Nketiah dazzled at Ashburton Grove last night as the 18-year-old scored two goals to send the Gunners through to the fifth round of the League Cup.
With in-form Norwich leading 1-0 through Josh Murphy’s clever chip, Wenger turned to his young bench in the 85th minute.
The manager didn’t have to wait long for his reward, as unheralded Nketiah slotted home with his first touch to bring the score level, saving Arsenal’s blushes and sending the game into extra time.
“I was impressed by the defensive performance of Norwich and so you sit there on the bench and think: ‘What can we do to be a bit more dangerous?’” said Wenger.
“It was the occasion where we had to take a big gamble because there was not much time to go and I know that Eddie can score a goal.”
In an end-to-end game where the away team continued to push, relief for Arsenal fans came in the 96th minute when Mohamed Elneny’s corner met with Nketiah’s header, which rippled the back of the Norwich net.
“He showed great anticipation in the box to score and that’s a quality that you cannot teach at that age,” continued Wenger.
“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.”
Describing the game as a “childhood dream,” the young England player was rewarded with the chant of “Eddie, Eddie” echoing around the stadium.
“I’m delighted to, first of all, make my home debut and go on to score two goals and win the match for Arsenal,” said the teen.
“It’s only the start and hopefully you’ll see many more goals and better performances from me.”
In a night that belonged to Nketiah on only his second appearance as a senior professional, Arsenal legend Thierry Henry praised the goalscorer online: “So happy for him and not surprised at all!”