Arsenal navigate past AFC Wimbledon in their ‘Behind Closed Doors’ game

Well it was surprising to learn that the Carabao Third round tie against AFC Wimbledon wasn’t televised and available anywhere. I cannot recall the last time this was the case; understandably this news didn’t go down well with many supporters who don’t have the opportunity to view Arsenal games without access to streams and television broadcasts.

On one hand you could argue if there was only one game in the season you could afford to miss it was a third round League Cup game against League One opposition. The game was won comfortably enough, No future stars were making their debuts and a juicier tie against Leeds comes next which no doubt will be televised.

The atmosphere and those in attendance was definitely the epitome of a family affair. The reduced cost tickets allowed many fans to be able to bring along members of their family that wouldn’t normally be in attendance for the bread and butter league games. Children and Elderly parents/relatives were there in abundance and all together made for a very enjoyable relaxed and fun experience.

The Line-Up raised a few eyebrows in terms of the starting of Thomas Partey taking into account the small matter of a North London Derby merely days away. Definitely felt like a risk not worth taking but thankfully the Ghanaian came through his cameo appearance unscathed. Mikel gave His reasoning behind the selection of our midfield enforcer after the game. The rest of the line-up tended to favour one I alluded to in my blog post yesterday.

partey-reason

Mikel Arteta used the opportunity to give valuable minutes to all his fringe players and give them a chance to make a case for selection against Tottenham. The line-up certainly had the feel of players shoehorned in rather than a tactical selection to beat our opponents. The quality was littered throughout the team so the expectation was there to outclass Wimbledon regardless of who operated where on the pitch.

The performance on a whole was hardly what I would describe as swashbuckling. At times the football was disjointed with a few misplaced passes here and there but this would be expected with the amount of rust on the pitch. Despite a place in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup being on offer this game had more of a feel of a pre season friendly which provided an opportunity to provide match fitness and fine tune some sharpness.

Gabriel Martinelli was tasked with operating on the right flank, we have been used to him being utilised on the left and/or centrally so it was interesting to see him playing on the right. I have to confess I had always assumed he was left footed given his frequent use on the left but I don’t recall at any point he used his left foot, often playing in some nice crosses from the flanks with his right.

Tavares impressed quite a few with his tenacity and drive from the left. He certainly emits a level of Athleticism and attacking verve that has the potential to get bums off seats when he is on the ball.  I can only assume he is a converted winger because he loves to attack. He can drift past a man with ease at times and you can see the attacking side of his game is where he enjoys and excels. The defensive side of his game will be tested in future for sure but for now he has integrated well into the first team set up.

Leno returned and although I’m not 100 percent convinced this has sealed his fate as cup keeper for rest of season, it was important to keep up his sharpness. He didn’t have much to do in the game as from an attacking perspective most of the danger was dealt with by the defence. When he was called upon he did make a couple good saves but generally was untroubled.

Despite the comfort from a Lacazette penalty the team seemed to be going through the motions without providing much end product. The introduction of Emile Smith Rowe and then Saka firstly raised the crowd and secondly added a bit of much needed quality in the final third to turn half chances into goals.

esr-on
Definitely lifted crowd when our Hale End boys came on

ESR scored his first goal of the season and after having looked good for a goal in all his appearances this season this could be the trigger to spark a whole lot more from him.

Eddie Nketiah scored the pick of the bunch with a quality back heel from a Cedric cut back. Happy with his goal the fans sung his name long and loud until he was replaced by Balogun. It’s easy to forget this was the competition that put him on many fans radar with a double against Norwich in what was effectively his debut. Although he didn’t have the best of games he put the ball in the back of the net which is what you want from your strikers. Goals add confidence and it will do him a world of good moving forward.

Overall this game was the perfect opportunity to provide vital minutes to those in need, the win was secured and to be honest there wasn’t much to look too deep into the performance other than that. The family orientated crowd were left pleased by the result and Mikel managed to get his players to come through the game unscathed and ready for the battle on Sunday.

Enjoy your day people

This post has also featured on Gunners Town site which I write for.

%d bloggers like this: