Marcus Edwards

AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Pepe plays the hero as Arsenal avoid Vitoria defeat (video)

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Disaster averted, but only just barely.

[ EUROPA LEAGUE: Man United, Wolves seal key Europa League wins ]

Arsenal 3-2 Vitoria de Guimaraes

Arsenal were anything but convincing against fourth-place Portuguese side Vitoria de Guimaraes, but in the end it matters very little as Unai Emery‘s side came from behind twice before snatching a stoppage-time winner at the Emirates Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur academy product Marcus Edwards, who moved from north London to Portugal this summer, scored the game’s opening goal in the 8th minute. Arsenal equalized through Gabriel Martinelli just after the half-hour mark, but a bit of woeful possession and counter-attack defending saw the Gunners concede again just four minutes later.

The score remained 2-1 until the final 10 minutes, at which point the Nicolas Pepe show began, mercifully for Arsenal.

The victory sees Arsenal keep their 100-percent record alive in Group F play, with three wins from three games. Halfway through the group stage, they lead second-place Eintracht Frankfurt by three points and have a six-point advantage on third-place Standard Liege.

Other notable Europa League results

Partizan Belgrade 0-1 Manchester United — FULL RECAP
Slovan Bratislava 1-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers — FULL RECAP
Porto 1-1 Rangers
Celtic 2-1 Lazio
Sevilla 3-0 Dudelange
Ludogorets 0-1 Espanyol
Getafe 0-1 Basel
Roma 1-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
Gent 2-2 Wolfsburg
Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Standard Liege
Saint-Etienne 1-1 Olexandriya

Tottenham’s own Lionel Messi? Meet Marcus Edwards

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This praise may have been taken slightly out of context, but still, Mauricio Pochettino obviously thinks highly of young Marcus Edwards.

[ MORE: Donovan on USMNT return ]

The 17-year-old attacking midfielder, who can play out wide or through the center, impressed while on tour with Tottenham’s first team this summer in Australia.

Along with several other talented youngsters, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Harry Winks and Tom Carroll to name a few, he is expected to feature for Spurs against Gillingham in their EFL Cup third round tie against third-tier Gillingham on Wednesday at White Hart Lane.

Behind-the-scenes at Spurs everyone is getting pretty excited about Edwards and ahead of this particular game former Espanyol player and manager Pochettino said the promising academy product reminds him of a player he saw at a young age during his time spent living, playing and coaching in Barcelona.

Yep, that guy.

“His qualities … it’s only looks – his body and the way that he plays – remember a little bit from the beginning of Messi,” Pochettino said. “He is a very good prospect and, potentially, he can be a top player but we need to be patient and tell him that he has a lot of talent, enough talent to be a top player, a great player, but now it’s how he builds his future – that’s very important. It’s our responsibility to tell him.”

Edwards’ nickname is also “Mini Messi” and although being mentioned in the same breath as him by Pochettino shows how much faith his manager has in him, it has to be pointed out that nobody is expecting him to go on to match Messi’s achievements in the game.

He is only 17, let’s not forget that, but Edwards has been earmarked for some time as the next star to come out of Tottenham’s academy. (Sidenote: I picked Edwards as my breakout player in the PL this season in our preseason roundtable).

After Harry Kane and Ryan Mason, Spurs have also had plenty of success signing the likes of Eric Dier and Dele Alli as youngsters and helping them develop rapidly into first team players in the Premier League.

So, remember the name, Marcus Edwards. And in case you don’t, here’s a video below which shows you a little bit of what he’s all about.

Turns out those Messi comparisons, at least aesthetically, seem pretty spot on…