While a League Cup tie against Coventry City isn’t usually something to write home about, a resounding victory, the manner in which it was achieved, and the depth on show certainly is. As the season wears on, it is comforting to know the players waiting on the wings are fit and raring to go when and if they are needed.
As with every League Cup tie, the manager decided to shuffle the deck, leaving his trump cards behind. One thing I noticed in stark contrast from previous years is the strength of the squad. Santos, Giroud, Walcott, Arshavin and Oxlade-Chamberlain all started. In recent years we’ve had an injury curse to several key players, and this was reflected in League Cup games, where, the entire squad would only consist of youngsters. Nearly all senior players had to be used in the main competitions and hence were not used in the League Cup. This season (touch wood) we’ve had no major injuries. The manager has a “good problem” in worrying about who to leave out. This has resulted in a lot of our senior players not receiving adequate game time, which is why they were used in this game.
I very much prefer this team structure in the League Cup. There’s no point in playing the reserves team when there is little or no chance that they will be used in the first team for the bigger competitions. That said, the youngsters need to be exposed to bigger teams to assist in their development, therefore this balance was ideal.
While it is easy to be sceptical, our fringe players needed this game for their confidence. Its fair to say that Giroud, Walcott and Arshavin were really lacking confidence before the game, but they showed they still had something to offer, and gained confidence in the process.
Stand out performer
Once again a great performance and many contenders for the MOTM.
Coquelin is a player that has really hit the ground running and continues to impress the manager. Its a shame there is so much competition for right back and defensive midfield these days, otherwise this man is more than capable to fill in those roles in the first team. Playing a deep lying defensive role in midfield, bossed the midfield and very much played box to box. He thwarted Coventry’s attacks, while passing the ball with purpose. His determination led to Giroud opening goal.
Arshavin turned back the clock, scoring a goal, winnning a penalty and creating an assist for Miquel. While it is disappointing he hasn’t reached the heights of 2009 again, it is important to note that he chose to stay at the club when others didn’t, and made his loyalty known. He is still a great player and his loyalty is something that should not be taken for granted. Unfortunately the competition for places at the moment is intense and he hasn’t been named in recent squads for the Premier League and Champions League, but at worst, this performance of his will keep the likes of Ramsey, Gervinho and Podolski on their toes, which can only benefit the team.
Areas of concern
Giroud did his confidence a world of good scoring his first goal for Arsenal with a delicate chip, only to undo his great work by missing a penalty. I’m not sure where his confidence is at at the moment, but it went from sky-high and then suddenly back down to earth.
Djourou lost concentration for their goal, really should have kept a clean sheet. Santos still not tracking back enough.
The numbers game
14 shots on goal, with 8 on target. 6 of those went in. I’m very happy to see us finally converting our chances, too often this has been a frustrating problem for us.
Great to see the depth in the squad. While I don’t want any injuries this season, the reality is they are likely to come, and the players on show against Coventry must be ready to step up. After what we saw in this game, we can be confident they will hit the ground running.