Game. Set. Match. Arsenal takes it out 7-5, after being 4-0 down. A simply extraordinary match on so many levels, it had everything, in what surely has to be the greatest League Cup tie in the competition’s history.
As with ‘standard procedure’ with regards to these League Cup ties, the manager opted to go for a second string side.
There was still quality on show in the form of Giroud, Arshavin and Walcott, all knocking on the door for a first team spot with plenty to prove and prove they did. Jenkinson returned to the side which harshly confirmed his status as second choice right back. With Gibbs injured and Santos required for the trip to Old Trafford on Saturday, Miquel was played out of position at left back a decision which backfired.
Overall I don’t have much to say about the starting line up, this was the League Cup after all and I think the manager got it right. This side should have still beaten Reading easily, but they did it the hard way.
Just like the 7-5 scoreline, the performances of our more experienced attackers and our, to an extent, less experienced defence were worlds apart. We saw everything in this game, from the ugly defending, to the determination, conviction and never-say-die attitude shown by our attackers, as they put on an exquisite display. Thankfully it was the latter that outdid the former.
Stand out performer
In situations where it appears all hope is lost, it takes tremendous mental strength and determination to dig deep and believe the impossible is possible. I think praise needs to go to each and every one of our attacking players.
Giroud came on in the second half as a man on a mission. He was everywhere. We really saw what he was capable of when he finally received some decent service. Got a deserved goal from a corner to peg it back to 4-2 and open the floodgates.
Eisfeld looked a man much more mature for his age. After a first half of abysmal passing, he was able to find a rhythm in midfield, and ensured the rest of the team was able to click into gear and create the chances required to pull off this miracle. I might be jumping the gun here, but Ramsey might have to look over his shoulder.
Arshavin got into his zone eventually and when he’s in that zone, he’s a tough man to stop. His flick to set up Theo’s first was a sign of things to come. He also deserves the credit for the match winning goal converted by Theo to make it 6-5. Lets not forget he layed it off for Chamakh to make it 5-4 too. Three very important assists for three important goals.
We’d all but forgotten about Marouane Chamakh. He lad hasn’t scored a goal since the last Ice Age and we didn’t have high hopes for him in this fixture either, especially after his first half performance. After the match we were all thinking “where did he learn to kick like that?”. Not only have we not seen Chamakh score in that long, but the goals he actually scored, a shot from outside the box, and a cheeky chip over the keeper, weren’t goals we associated with header-hungry Chamakh. Something special was needed to break the 4-4 deadlock in extra time, and the sleeping giant that was the “Chamakh attack” came with a rude awakening.
Above all, the man of the match must go to Theo Walcott. Four goals and plenty of assists, can’t really ask for much more, was involved in every single goal. I especially loved his finish for the first goal. Sleek sexy little chip over Federici was a world class finish from a man who is craving to play down the middle. Give that man a contract please Arsene (a contract he will actually want to sign).
Areas of concern
Admist all the euphoria, lets not kid ourselves. That was a shocking defensive performance.
Djourou was once again out of his depth. Koscielny has dropped from the great heights of last season and seems to be very Jekyll and Hyde in his performances this season. Mertesacker is rightly the first choice these days.
I think the majority of the wrath needs to go to our left back and goalkeeper, who made life harder for our centre backs.
I don’t know what happened to Miquel I just got the impression he somehow didn’t know he was supposed to play left-back in this match. He was that out of position for some of our goals conceded, it looked like we had no left back, and it was easy pickings for them. He was beaten too easily for their second goal and other times, when he was supposed to track back and mark up, he was nowhere to be seen. I suppose you cant really expect much from a left back who’s third choice and is being played out of position.
Martinez had a shocker for their third goal but made an important save late on so I won’t be too harsh.
Even Jenkinson was uncharacteristically off his game and allowed too many crosses in from his side, one of which led to a goal.
Its almost not surprising to see the 4 goals shipped actually. We were away from home, and judging by the performances by our first choice defence in the last week or so, what made you think this second string would do any better? We didn’t think they’d do too much worse though, but they did. As harsh as I sound, there’s no point in sugarcoating it. The defence was awful and the only positive thing to come out of it is that none of these players are likely to have any involvement in the big Premier League matches coming up. If they want to even think about being in the first team, they’ll need to sort out the basics, because there was far too much room given, particularly on the wings, and poor marking. Just a recipe for disaster.
It was the game of two halves really. Credit to them for their four goals. Although our defending was terrible, they put the pressure on us and played with a lot of purpose. Scoring from outside the box and making outstretched volleys aren’t easy to do, but unfortunately for them, their complacency got the better of them, and the sleeping giant of Arsenal awoke in the second half.
“we went from disaster to pride”
Two extremes, its what every Arsenal supporter feels these days. Arsene Wenger better pay my health insurance bill!
We managed to get thrashed and thrash the opposition in the same game. It was by no means perfect but a great story, and one of the greatest ever comebacks, a game that will not be forgotten any time soon.