Monday, 21 February 2011

Yes, we beat Barca but a draw at Orient isn't the end of the world

It appears there is some hysteria in the online Gooner community about the fact we didn't beat Leyton Orient yesterday.

The tie was never going to be a walk in the park some people thought. It was (A) a London derby, (B) in the FA Cup after (C) we'd just beaten the best club footballing side in the world.

Circumstances which could quite easily led to our elimination of the competition.

Instead we now have another game in an already busy fixture list and the only person who is happy about that is the Arsenal financial director... It means season ticket holders use the last of their cup credits and another £1.5 million is made from associated match day income.

I thought the team Arsene Wenger put out was good enough to win the game. I was surprised with the selection of Ignasi Miquel, who made his professional debut.

We settled into our game quite well. Watching the game, the Orient fans must have felt like we did on Wednesday night when Barca had so much possession of the ball.

There were some early chances. Marouane Chamakh, who has yet to find his pre-Christmas form, had a couple of efforts but they were weak in comparison with what we've seen from him previously.

Nicklas Bendtner had a shot on goal but his effort was well wide of the target.

Our form player was Andrey Arshavin. He was bright and bustling with energy and effort. It is great to see him playing like that, although he didn't find the back of the net.

In midfield Alex Song didn't settle well. He was playing the box-to-box role from his position as one of the two deep lying midfielders alongside Denilson.

The Cameroon international seemed to be unable to find his range of passing immediately but settled as the half progressed.

In defence we didn't have any scares and Ignasi Miquel didn't have any problems. He looked composed on the ball and when the opportunity arose to show he could defend, he held off the Orient attacker, winning a free kick inside our area.

So we were goalless at half time. Not exactly what we'd hoped for but Orient had shown defensive solidarity, working well with their two banks of four when we got the ball.

The start of the second half proved brighter. Arsenal pressing for the goal and it came on the 53rd minute. Sagna drove a powerful shot/pass in to the box, Chamakh laid the ball off to Bendtner whose shot was blocked. The Dane took the ball towards the edge of the area on the right.

He swung in a cross which Tomas Rosicky ran on to and beat his man in the air, to head the ball home. 1-0 Arsenal.

It was great to see Rosicky score. He seemed so pleased!

Arsenal had got their noses in front and should have added to their solitary goal.

Orient made their second substitution. Tehoue replacing McGleish which led to a change in the way the O's attacked the Gunners, with   Tehoue being more powerful in his running and ball retention.

Rosicky had a chance to add to his goal tally, with a cross from Bendtner finding the Czech attacker. However his first time shot was parried away by Jones and the ball fell to him again and his weak header was easily caught.

Tehoue showed his power to get past Song and delivered a perfect cross which saw a first time shot go just wide.

Orient were coming back into the game mainly through the influence of Tehoue. His cross found another first time shot which smacked Sebastien Squillaci right in the face.

At the other end, Andrey Arshavin used his pace and power to get himself clear and fired in a shot from the right which clipped the far post.

Two minutes before the end came the Orient equaliser. Alex Song gave away a free kick just inside the Arsenal half. It allowed the O's to get some men forward and although they played the ball short, the Arsenal players didn't seem to be alive to it.

The ball came to the impressive Tehoue who easily worked his way through Miquel and Gibbs with a trick with his quick feet and fired a low powerful drive underneath Almunia.

You would expect better from the three Arsenal players but credit to Tehoue, he came on and made the difference.

Should Almunia have saved it? Possibly. But it was a very powerful effort and sometimes a goal is just a goal - no one can be blamed.

It finished at 1-1 and a replay will be scheduled for Wednesday March 2.

After the final whistle questions were raised about certain players and whether they were up to playing for Arsenal.

I cannot see the point at this stage of the season to start knocking players. The manager made 10 changes from the Barcelona games. Some of these players haven't had a competitive game since the Huddersfield Town match.

To come in and play at any level competitively is difficult after a break. We saw Wednesday night Samir Nasri didn't come back firing on all cylinders after his injury.

The time to evaluate the squad is at the end of the season. This is the first time for a long time we've been able to fight on four fronts with a squad of this quality. 

It seems to me that some Gooners would rather not be in with a shout of winning each of those four trophies. We know we cannot play the same 11 each week. The fixture schedule is too busy for that. And neither should we expect to win.

We need to remain focused on each game. Expecting our team to turn up and win is where we lose that focus. We don't expect the players to do it, so why should we as fans?

Yes, we beat Barca but a draw at Orient isn't the end of the world. 

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