Friday, September 28, 2012

Arsenal 6 Coventry 1 (Capital One Cup Third Round)

The game was not as easy as the scoreline may suggest. Many headlines included those words typically associated with emphatic wins, such as "cruise", "convincing", "comfortable", and "ease", but it could have produced a totally different result as Coventry started well and never gave up. However, Arsenal's clinical finishing made a difference. Five of Arsenal's six goals came from the first-teamers, who also play for their respective senior national team. Their class was the difference between the two teams. This Arsenal side, a mix of youngsters and fringe first-team players, has plenty of room for improvement.

That said, the improvement over the past seasons has been clear. Although Arsenal's track record against lower division clubs in the domestic cup competitions is impressive, they have struggled to see off these teams in the recent years. They eventually beat them, but it took replays or late penalties to progress, even with a help from the big-name players.

Apart from the goal fest, a number of factors made this game even more special. Giroud has finally broke his Arsenal duck. His expression said it all...a pure relief. Although he had his penalty kick saved (it wasn't a bad penalty kick. It should have been smashed into the bottom left-hand-side corner if the keeper had gone the wrong way), scoring his first goal for Arsenal should take pressure off and help his confidence grow. We are happy for him as we are fed up with reading the phrases like "the £13 million summer signing yet to score a first goal for his new club".

Secondly, Arshavin has proved what he is capable of. Arsene Wenger acknowledged that just behind the striker is the best suited position for the diminutive Russian. However, it is difficult to find this position in the current first-team system.

Thirdly, Walcott proved that his finishing has improved considerably. Walcott's desire to become a central striker has been well-documented and it is reportedly a key factor behind the ongoing contract talk. Prior to this match, there was an argument among Arsenal fans whether Walcott should be given a chance to prove himself as a central striker. Some thought Wenger should give him a chance to play the central role and this game would present an excellent opportunity for that, but we believed it was a more urgent issue that Giroud got off the mark and we thought that the France international should get the central striker position in a game like this under less pressure and possibly with more chances to score.

Frimpong made his first appearance since February when he ruptured his anterior knee ligament, while playing for Wolves on loan. He has been unlucky with injuries, suffering a similar injury two years ago. It was good to see the enthusiastic young player on the pitch again and it is good to have him in the squad, but his first-team action is expected to be limited as our midfield seems to have settled with the Cazorla-Arteta-Diaby line-up and Coquelin is ahead of him in the pecking order.

Nico Yennaris aged seven in September 2000

There is a lovely story behind this match. Nico Yennaris was Arsenal's mascot the last time when Arsenal hosted Coventry in September 2000, aged just seven. 12 years on, he was on the pitch as a midfielder playing for his boyhood club. It's good to see players, like him and Carl Jenkinson, realise their dream and play with passion and love for their boyhood club.

Arsenal will visit Madejski Stadium for the fourth round of the Capital One Cup against Reading. Does this Arsenal ream have enough quality to beat a Premier League side away from home? Maybe we need more first-teamers to compliment the young side. Rosicky and Sagna should be back in the first-team action by that time, as well as Jack Wilshere, which means Arsenal will probably have more first-teamers who need more playing time.

Players Ratings

Martinez: 7
With Coventry registering only two shots on target, he didn't have much to do, but did what he had to do well.

Angha: 6
Busy going forward, but his crosses left much to be desired, except for a couple. He has a long way to go before he becomes a threat to Carl Jenkison's position as Sagna's understudy. Nico Yennaris looked much better in this position last season.

Djourou: 7
He should have picked out Ball (the scorer of the Coventry goal) and prevented the goal.

Miquel: 8
Looked comfortable on the ball and composed. Scored his first goal for the Club with a brilliant header.

Santos: 6
We were surprised that his name was not on the scoresheet when we scored six goals, but in fact, he had a quite game. Some of his passes were sloppy. We think Kieran Gibbs will remain as a first-choice left-back.

Yennaris: 7
It looks the boss is still experimenting on the 19-year old's positions. He was deployed on a right side of midfield and did his job reasonably well.

Coquelin: 8
He was impressive offensively and defensively. Set up the opener by sliding in and laying the ball for Giroud.

Walcott: 7
His Henry-esque second goal showed his class, but he also missed easier chances.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: 7
Scored a sublime goal from distance.

Arshavin: 8
He was in the centre of Arsenal's attack, pulling the strings. Scored a great goal himself after an exquiste touch, which showed his class. He answered to his critics by his impressive work rate as well.

Giroud: 7
Scored his first goal in an Arsenal shirt. Provided an assist for Arshavin. His movement off the ball has been good and he contributes a lot to the team. Hopefully, this goal will open the floodgate.


Gnabry: 7
72nd-substitute for Oxlade-Chamberlain. Looked promising with great technical abilities.

Chamakh: 7
Came on as a 73rd-miute substitute for Giroud. Involved in some good attacking play.

Frimpong: 7
Replaced Coquelin in the 73rd minute. Emotional first appearance in seven months.

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