Thursday, 28 October 2010

Arsenal's scrappy performance deserved it's 4-0 victory

Newcastle 0 - Arsenal 4
Carling Cup 
At St. James Park

When does a 4-0 victory not feel like one? When Arsenal are just as bad as the other team but are more clinical in front of goal.

This Carling Cup game was far from a one sided affair but the Gunners came out on top because of they took their chances in front of goal better than their opponents.

That's not to take away from Arsenal's slick movements in front of goal. But they just weren't at their fluid best.

The Arsenal manager made 9 changes from the side which started at Manchester City - Denilson and Djourou the only players saved - with Wojciech Szczesny and Craig Eastmond given their chance to impress the Frenchman.

The front three of Walcott, Bendtner and Vela knew there would be chances and on paper you would be pleased with that forward line in this competition.

It's not as though Arsene Wenger's men had more opportunities in front of goal. Newcastle had as many openings but it was Arsenal starting out the blocks quickest and within the opening minutes Vela and Bendtner had opportunities to put us into the lead.

The Geordies had the first real sight at an open goal with 14 minutes gone. Ranger should have hit the back of the net after Szczesny made his only big mistake of the night by charging from his goal to be rounded by the Newcastle youngster. As he tried to get the ball onto his stronger foot, the excellent Koscielny nipped back in to block his effort.

Then the young Pole had to be at his best to tip an Smith shot from 25 yards on to his bar.

Bendtner, who was very encouraging in his return to action, shot twice at Krul in the Newcastle goal. And Eboue hit an effort into the side netting as Arsenal tried to take the lead.

The Ivorian had a decent game, less attacking following his switch to left back after Gibbs was withdrawn with a knee injury. Arsene Wenger said it didn't look good for the Englishman making his return to action after injury in the last round of this competition.

What impressed me most about the first half was Arsenal's pressing game and the way the midfield three - Rosicky, Denilson and Eastmond - would hunt as a pack to win the ball back.

It looked as though it would end as a stalemate going into the break, but a big piece of luck came Arsenal's way when a Walcott corner was only half cleared. The ball was helped back into the danger area by Rosicky and Bendtner headed goal wards.

Koscielny jumped in front of Krul - which might have distracted the young Dutchman - who saw the ball go past him. Taylor on the Toon line cleared the ball but only into his keeper's head and it rebounded back into his own net. 1-0 Arsenal.

Newcastle came out with just as much energy and determination after the break and could have been level had Koscielny not spotted the danger and put Ranger's effort out for a corner.

Arsenal's second goal came in controversial fashion. Bendtner was making his way slowly back onside following a previous attack as Walcott sprang on to a defensive header to go racing in on goal.

The big Dane then got himself into the path of the chasing Toon defender Williamson and blocked him off, sending him to the floor. With this all going on behind him Walcott had no idea what was going on as he slotted home coolly.

It was Karma for Williamson, who had in the first half taken out Bendtner as he was racing into the box to be on the end of a Walcott cross.

The referee and his assistants saw nothing wrong with it and the goal stood. Newcastle were quite rightly aggrieved. Bendtner had deliberately taken out their defender and if that had happened at the other end I would have been angry that the officials hadn't blown.

However there was no way Williamson would have caught Walcott. So Arsenal were 2-0 up, 53 minutes into the game.

Wenger took the decision to remove Vela from the action and replace him with Fabregas to see us through. The Mexican had a bright start but really looks like he needs games to help him find form. 

The home side added their big guns in Carrol, Gutierrez and Barton, but it was to no use.

A point blank save from Szczesny denied Taylor a minute or so before Bendtner added a third for Arsenal and his second goal in four days, with a superb right-foot finish into the top corner.

Again Szczesny had to be at his best to deny Taylor again from a free kick, before Walcott raced away to add his second of the night with two minutes to go with a cool finish. 

Arsenal head in to the quarter finals, the draw for which will take place on Saturday lunchtime.

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