Archive for September 22nd, 2010

It’s Only The Carling Cup (But I Like It)

10 comments September 22nd, 2010

Spurs 1 – 4 Arsenal (Lansbury 15, Keane 49, Nasri (pen) 91, (pen) 95, Arshavin 105)
Highlights | Arsene’s reaction

Before we get too excited, let’s remember that it’s only the Carling Cup.

And then let’s be delighted that no-one told this kid:

Arsenal haven’t won any silverware for five years. Making a Spurs fan cry is probably the next best thing.

The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  After qualifying for the next round so impressively last night, Arsene might just have an eye on going further in the competition.  As he put it last night:

“When you look at the players we left at home, when everybody’s fit I can go as well for this competition.”

We have a big squad now.  People talked about last night’s team being strong, but they forgot to talk about the team we left back at the training ground, either injured (Fabregas, Van Persie, Walcott, Vermaelen), rested (Almunia, Squillaci) or suspended (Song).  It’s not as if we abandoned our youth policy entirely: the starting line-up contained four players under the age of 21 (Gibbs, Wilshere, Lansbury and Vela).

Our first-half performance was outstanding.  Jack Wilshere was the key player, taking a battering from an attentive Tottenham midfield yet emerging unscathed and unsurpassed for his vision and technique.  Inevitably, he created our opener, crossing low from the left for Lansbury to tap in.

“To come in against our rivals and score is a dream,” said Lansbury afterwards.  Well, pinch yourself Henri: it happened.  Arsene compared his battling performance to a Ray Parlour shift, which could be seen as damning with faint praise.  Lansbury has technique to match.  Chances will be few and far between for him in our packed midfield, but if he continues to perform as he did last night he has a chance of becoming a reliable squad member.

We should have added to our lead when Wilshere played in Gibbs, but the left-back was wrongly flagged offside.  The marauding run was typical of another impressive performance, and it’s great news that the foot injury he picked up in extra-time isn’t too serious.

Ah.  Extra-time.  It shouldn’t have gone that far but it did after a minor second half rally from Spurs.  Substitute Robbie Keane appeared to be offside, but the same linesman got it wrong again, and his side-footed effort squeaked through Fabianksi’s greased gloves.

At that point you feared that Spurs might crank up the tempo and make a real fist of it, but it wasn’t to be.  We threw on Chamakh and Arshavin to try and win the game, but eventually we found ourselves in that extra thirty minute allocation.

At that point, Tottenham imploded.  Fatigue was obviously a factor – their players were cramping up, whilst ours seemed fresh as daisies.  Tiredness told as we were gifted two penalties, both remarkably similar.  First Arshavin clipped a chip over the top to Nasri, who was tugged by Bassong, and then the Russian’s slide-rule pass found Chamakh, being held by Steven Caulker.  It is the third penalty the Moroccan has been awarded this season: his intelligent (and, not to mention, fast) running causes havoc in the opposition back line.

Samir Nasri had refused to take the critical penalty against Sunderland because of a superstition about not wanting to convert penalties he himself has earned.  When Rosicky subsequently missed, Arsene pulled Nasri aside and told him to get over his fear.  Last night, he duly did, slotting away both spot kicks with a calm authority befitting of a player who was wearing the captain’s armband at the time.

Our fourth goal was the icing on the cake.  Arshavin was fouled, Tottenham dawdled, and the Russian jumped to his feet and sprinted in to the box.  Unsurprisingly, Wilshere was sharp enough to take a quick free-kick to find his colleague, and the number 23 powered home his fourth goal of the season.

4-1, and sweet revenge for the 5-1 drubbing we took there in the same competition not too long ago.  I do think that with a couple of favourable draws we might be able to use the momentum this result has generated to go far in this competition.  It’d be great to see us contest a final again.

Enjoy the win, enjoy the goals, and enjoy the gloating.  But let’s keep perspective too.  There are more important things, both on the pitch (the Premier League and Europe) and off it.  Arguably the most significant thing about last night’s result is that it keeps our unbeaten start to the season going.  Now we’ve got to carry that in to Saturday’s game with West Brom.

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