Thursday, 26 September 2013

Arsenal See Off West Brom and Draw Chelsea

Arsenal put out a fairly inexperienced team last night against West Brom but they still managed to make their way to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup. It was a close affair with Arsenal just squeezing through when Nacho Monreal scored the decisive penalty in the shootout. 

There was a fair deal of experience in the team too and it was good to see players such as Monreal, Thomas Vermaelen and Carl Jenkinson get a game too. It was also good to see the return of Mikael Arteta to the team after his injury as any players returning from injury have to be welcomed back. With all the injuries Arsenal have it's great that Arteta and Vermaelen too are reversing the trend just a little.

Usually in League Cup games Arsene Wenger will put out a completely different team to the one which has played the weekend before, but he couldn't quite manage it this time. Per Mertesacker was called upon to play again, but the rest of the team from Saturday were at least rested with only Mathieu Flamini on the bench. Probably the most notable player in the team was Nicklas Bendtner who was making his first appearance for Arsenal in a very long time.

It's no secret that Arsenal have being trying to sell Bendtner for a couple of years now and he has been loaned out during that time. With no new strikers arriving in the transfer window Arsenal decided to hold on to him and he got the chance to show what he can do last night. While his performance may not have been overly impressive he did at least make Arsenal's goal with an excellent pass for Thomas Eisfeld.

The young midfielder took his chance well to give Arsenal the lead on the hour mark, but West Brom equalised 10 minutes later. The team did pretty well on the night as they defended well and tried to play their own game when in possession. It may not have been scintillating stuff but all things considered I think it was a real achievement to go through.

Some of the younger players showed some real nerve to step up in the penalty shoot out and the experience will have done them good. With the next round not for another four weeks there's every chance that Arsenal will have a few more players retuned from injury and ready to play. The youngster's who played last night showed that they will have to be considered for that game too.

The draw for the fourth round threw up a really tough tie for Arsenal with Chelsea coming to the Emirates. With the quality and size of Chelsea's squad I have no doubt they will have a very strong team on the night and the boss will have to choose his team wisely. It's quite possible that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski could all be available to play in that game.

I still don't think the League Cup is a competition worth taking too seriously, but it's always a good thing when Arsenal win of course. Last night's win will probably be recorded as a draw because the game was level after 90 minutes which probably means the 10 game winning streak away from home has ended. Again that's something which was great while it lasted but counts for very little in the overall scheme of things. 

The most important thing now is the next match and a trip to Swansea on Saturday is not an easy task. They have shown themselves to be a good footballing team since their promotion just over two weeks ago and have had two good victories over Arsenal in that time. Arsenal will have to be at their best to take all three points and keep their place at the top of the table.

I'll look at that game a lot more in my preview but for the moment that's more or less it except for one final point. When I saw Park Chu-Young on the bench last night I was more than a little surprised. I didn't know where he was or what he was up to, but I certainly didn't expect him to turn up on the bench for an Arsenal match. It's probably a good thing he didn't play as I don't know what the shock might have done to me.

That's it for today. 

See you tomorrow.

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