Archive for December 4th, 2009

Another game, Another 3-0 defeat, Another huge over-reaction (and another Walcott injury)

Add comment December 4th, 2009

So Arsenal are out of the Carling Cup.  Calamity.  The way some people have reacted you’d think we’d been ejected from the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup all in the space of an evening.

Arsene picked a team that had, as he called it, “a chance to win”.  It wasn’t the biggest chance, however.  Up against a multi-million pound side who had beaten our first-team 4-1 earlier in the season, I didn’t hold out much hope for the likes of Silvestre, Merida, and Vela.

We held our own for the first-half, but defensive errors were again our undoing.  Tomas Rosicky, who looked rusty throughout, lost the ball cheaply to Carlos Tevez, and whilst Eboue backed off and Alex Song appeared to be looking for his keys on the Eastlands turf, Tevez advanced on goal before smashing a shot in to the far top corner.

The second goal was not dissimilar.  Shawn Wright-Phillips was charging towards our goal, and Mikael Silvestre, perhaps gambling on Wright-Phillips’s erratic finishing, encouraged the winger to shoot.  And shoot he did, his effort crashing in off the far and leaving Fabianski with no chance.

City’s third goal arrived as we poured forward looking to get back in to the game.  Craig Bellamy broke away, skipped between two translucent challenges, and crossed to the far post for Vladimir Weiss to plant another stunning finish in to the net and end the game.

There was time for Fran Merida to strike the cross-bar with a dipping left-foot volley, but to be honest we never looked much like scoring.  The likes of Merida, Vela, Wilshere and Rosicky all have tremendous technical ability but do look extremely lightweight. Andrey Arshavin has this morning complained about the side’s lack of height, but he’s hardly one to talk!

It’s disappointing to lose, but qualifying for the semis would have seen us in a two-legged tie finishing at Old Trafford: games our Carling Cup side would have been unlikely to win.  Whenever we’ve reached the semis in the past it’s cost us plenty in terms of resource and injured players.  Good riddance to the Carling Cup, I say.

After the game there was a spat between Mark Hughes and Arsene Wenger, with the latter refusing the shake the Welshman’s hand.  My take is that a handshake is not a right – if Arsene was sufficiently offended by Hughes’ behaviour, he has no obligation to fulfill the expectation of a shake.

Philippe Senderos wasn’t involved at all, and it looks for all the world like he’ll be off in January.  After Song and Sylvestre’s antics at centre-back on Wednesday night, it looks like we may have to dip into the transfer market in January.  Either that, or buy Johan Djourou some new legs.

The game at City cost us a suspension for Alex Song, who was booked for a heavy body check.  He’ll now miss the match with Stoke on Saturday, as will Theo Walcott, who is injured (again).  Incredible to think that we’re in December and he’s only started one game this season.  If it weren’t for ‘that’ hatrick in Croatia, he wouldn’t be anywhere near a World Cup place right now.

In Song’s absence, Arsene will turn to Denilson to play the holding role against a very physical Stoke side.  It will be a good indicator as to how we might cope in January without Song.  After three defeats in our last four games, victory of any sort if essential.

Finally, tonight ArsenalTVOnline is available for free on – very generous.  And if you’re not sufficiently enticed, I’ll be appearing (via telephonic communications device)  on the Fans Forum programme with Tom Watt and Shovell at around 9pm.  Log on and check it out.

Bye for now.

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