At the moment the Arsenal are simply riding the crest of a wave. I’m just going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts. Last night Coventry came to town for the Capital One Cup and Arsene Wenger chose a team with the right mixture of youth and experience. The final result of 6-1 was testament to the hunger of the younger players to impress and the hunger of the more established players to stake a claim for a starting spot on Saturday.
Olivier Giroud started in what can only be seen as a confidence game for the striker. He indeed boosted his confidence with a quality dink over the keeper to open the scoring on the night and settle the nerves of the team in the first half. It was important the striker got his goal yesterday, considering the score line you would expect your forwards to hit the back of the net in the goal rush. I think what was also important was the fact he scored from open play, a set piece goal from a penalty doesn’t quite banish the demons and it was great to see him finish so calmly in open play. His penalty miss in the game is less damaging due to him scoring earlier; he was unfortunate not to score as it was a well taken penalty but when the keeper guesses the right way these things happen. Let’s hope Mr Giroud can now kick on this season.
Theo Walcott was given an opportunity to play up front and back up all the talking he has done this week about his desire to play in that role. Theo has admitted he would like to be a legend like Thierry Henry at Arsenal and believes this can only be achieved as a striker. Wenger duly obliged and called his bluff by selecting him in his preferred role. I have to admit after a mixed first half where everything wasn’t coming off Theo exploded into life in the second half and was rewarded with two quality finishes that were almost trademark Thierry goals. Definitely food for thought for Arsene, Walcott rose to the task and answered his doubters. Great for him but now the next step is to produce similar performances and goals against better opposition. That is probably one of the greatest criticisms of Theo is in the bigger games when you need the big players to stand up and fight he is usually anonymous. He is still young but the consistency is what he really needs to add to his game for people to take notice.
Andrei Arshavin seemed to have a lot of fun on the night, he played in a more central playmaker role without the added burden of protecting the flanks and it was clear he relished the role. It was reminiscent of his performances for Russia in the euros the way he was direct, spraying balls around and being a general nuisance to the Coventry backline. I noted yesterday that he needed to make the most of his opportunities in this game to force his way into Arsene’s plans in the premiership games. He surely did make the most of it and chipped in with a goal and assist in the game. This is the kind of performance the arsenal fans expect from the Russian and we know he can do it against better opposition too. Maybe Wenger will consider him in that role in future, he deserves a chance there as an option to alleviate the burden on Santi Cazorla to produce week in week out. It’s nice to know we have another player who can play in that hole effectively. Arshavin when he’s in the mood is a player to fear, let’s just hope he can maintain the hunger.
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain just loves this competition; it was around this time last year that he announced his potential to the arsenal fans with a barn storming performance against Shrewsbury. He was clearly in the mood yesterday and had a great game against Coventry. Always direct, he pulled off a few flicks and tricks and was a constant thorn in the Coventry side. He topped it off with a finish that had the whole stadium jumping. A real quality strike from outside the box, hardly any back lift in the shot it cannoned into the top corner of the net and set the game up nicely for the 6-1 outcome. The timing of the goal was perfect as Giroud had just missed his penalty and it could have had a negative effect on the team and raised Coventry’s hopes. The Ox’s bullet of a goal banished any hopes Coventry had and merely added to the already exponentially rising stock he has. It really is exciting when you look at the abundance of options we have in midfield at the moment.
Of the younger players that were drafted into the team Dami Martinez had a very good debut, despite the lack of pressure from Coventry he did everything that was required of him when called upon. His kicking was good, his claiming of the ball and he pulled of a couple acrobatic saves. He couldn’t be faulted for the goal and yesterdays experience would have done him a world of good. Martin Angha came into the side for his debut at right back and didn’t looked overawed by the occasion, he seemed very comfortable in that role and future is looking good for the young Swiss. His final delivery from the flanks may need a bit of working on but there are enough signs last night he the potential to be a future arsenal first team player. Nico Yennaris came into the side and was drafted into midfield, a position he plays quite a bit in reserves and he certainly had a good game in the middle of the park. Versatility is an attribute Arsene loves and he certainly showed Wenger he can play there if called upon. The only thing against him is his size but he has plenty of time to fill out and muscle up. Ignasi Miguel continued his development with an assured performance alongside skipper for the day Johan Djourou. He even chipped in with a headed goal and put himself in the shop window for a potential loan move to further his development. Serge Gnarby came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain in the second half and looked an almost carbon copy of our England midfielder. He is certainly another player off the production line that will excite the fans; he had a couple decent runs at the defence and came so close with a rocket of an effort.
It was nice to see Emmanuel Frimpong get on the pitch, he received a very warm reception from the fans when warming up and when he eventually got on the pitch. It has been a long journey back for the midfielder and now I hope the knee injuries can be a thing of the past. It really does seem like there’s no more room left at the inn but with Jack Wilshere and Thomas Rosicky still to return we really are spoilt for choice at the moment. Arsene I really don’t envy you right now as someone has to miss out each week and nobody at the moment is giving you a reason for them to be ignored.
We drew Reading in the next round of the cup, a shame its an away tie but cannot complain as we could have drawn far tougher opposition.
Enjoy your day people
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