Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Arsenal 3-1 Shrewsbury Town

Arsenal hosted League Two side Shrewsbury Town last night in the third round of the Carling Cup, and they won their way through to the fourth round after an early scare. It's been a tough time for Arsenal fans in the Premier League so far this season, but their form in other competitions has managed to hold up at least. After Saturday's disastrous defeat to Blackburn Rovers it was important for the team to get a win against a team which are three leagues below them.

As usual in the Carling Cup Arsene Wenger picked a completely different starting 11 from the side that played against Blackburn on Saturday. It meant the fans got a chance to see a few of the new signings along with some the very promising young prospects at the club. The team was as I had predicted yesterday with the exception of Francis Coquelin playing instead if Ryo Miyaichi who was not quite fit enough to start.

Arsenal started brightly and almost scored early on, but gradually the lack of belief that seems to have enveloped the whole club became more evident. Shrewsbury hit the post after little more than 10 minutes, and then they managed to go one better by taking the lead. A cross from the Arsenal left was met by James Collins, who rose unchallenged to head home for Shrewsbury.

Arsenal looked nervous at that stage and Shrewsbury sensed that they could cause a real upset. As Arsenal tried to get back into the game Shrewsbury did their best to pick them off on the break, and it almost paid off on a few occasions.

With just over half an hour gone Arsenal managed to get back into the game with a long range header from Kieran Gibbs, but they were still unconvincing right up until half time. In the second half Arsenal improved, and Alec Oxlade-Chamberlain was the man behind most of their good work. It was his 25 yard drive which put Arsenal 2-1 ahead just before the hour mark, as he visibly grew with confidence with every passing minute.

I wrote yesterday that I thought he could have a real influence on the game for Arsenal, and he has certainly given Wenger something to think about over the next few weeks. He may not be the finished article yet, but he showed enough to suggest that he could have a lot to offer to the Arsenal first team as they look to rescue their season. The ability to take players on and beat them cannot be underestimated, and he has that as well as an awful lot else to his game.

I was very impressed with the manner of his goal because it was so untypical of Arsenal. He took a pass 25 yards out as Arsenal played their predictable tippy-tappy game, but instead of another pass he unleashed a 25 yard bullet shot. When the opposition are unsure of what comes next it's difficult for them to defend, and Arsenal have become far too predictable in my opinion.

Shrewsbury may be three leagues below Arsenal, but he showed enough to suggest he should be in the manager's plans unlike some others in the team. Francis Coquelin was also impressive in his holding role in midfield, and it looks like his year in France may have paid some dividends for Arsenal. Both him and Emmanuel Frimpong look capable of stepping up to cover Alex Song when called upon, and that's a role Arsenal found hard to fill last season.

The third goal came from Yossi Benayoun with just 10 minutes left, after some good work by substitute Oguzhan Ozyakup on the right. It meant that all of Arsenal's scorers on the night were scoring their first goal for the club. I expect to see plenty more goals from both Chamberlain and Benayoun in the not too distant future.

There were still questions to be asked of the Arsenal defence last night, and Lukasz Fabianski didn't always look convincing in goal either. They are through to the last 16 of the Carling Cup though, and some of the fringe players got some much needed game time too.

The draw for the last 16 will take place just after midday on Saturday and as it stands Arsenal are one of seven Premier League teams through so far. There are six more games tonight and all 16 teams will be known after those games, but a Premier League opponent in the next round is the most likely scenario for Arsenal. It will be interesting to see if Wenger decides to put out a stronger team if the next opponents are of a higher calibre than Shrewsbury.

That's it for today.

Here's the highlights from yesterday's game.

See You Tomorrow.


  1. " unlike some others in the team"....

    who, in particular (I think I know)...

  2. I don't want to be too hard on players who are clearly struggling through a bad time for the team/club but it's fairly obvious who they are.

  3. Just hope players like Ryo, Ox, and Coq can stay positive. A real breath of fresh air, definitely.

  4. I hope so too as there is so much negativity about