FA Cup 5th Round Replay
Arsenal 5 – 0 Leyton Orient
1 – 0 Chamakh (7)
2 – 0 Bendtner (30)
3 – 0 Bendtner (43)
4 – 0 Bendtner (62 pen)
5 – 0 Clichy (75)
Arsenal progressed to an FA Cup quarter-final meeting with Manchester United, cruising past a Leyton Orient side whose dedication to trying to play football in the correct manner put most of the Premier League to shame. That they were on the receiving end of a five goal hiding is probably the best indicator why few other teams try to play this way at The Emirates.
Nicklas Bendtner garners most attention with a thirty minute hat-trick on a night of surprising scorers, Marouane Chamakh grabbing his first goal since November whilst Gael Clichy found the first time since Noah came up with the blueprints for the Ark.
On the back of the defeat at Wembley, Russell Slade feared a backlash. From the kick-off it was apparent that this Arsenal XI were in no mood to succumb to another cup shock inside three days. Abou Diaby returned to the line-up and was sparky early in the match but it was a much-maligned Rosický who provided the impetus for the breakthrough, seizing on a loose pass, surging into the area where Chamakh pass the cross into the net.
Instead of opening the floodgates, that led to a period of Arsenal sitting back, content to pass the ball and absorb any counter-attacks which Orient may progress. Probing the visitor’s defence, the second arrived with half an hour played. Diaby foraged on the left side of the Orient penalty area before finding Gibbs whose cross was turned into the net by Bendtner, soaring high to head the ball back in the direction from which it came leaving Jones grasping at air.
It was all very comfortable for Arsenal and just before the half-time whistle blew, it became a procession. Orient dithered and Rosický intervened. The ball broke to Bendtner, who cut in and curled his effort beyond the despairing dive of Jones and into the bottom corner. Three goals to the good and it was all too easy.
The second half brought little respite for the visitors. Denilson stung the hands and chest of Jones before Diaby provided a glimpse of the sublime skills he possesses, a one-two with Chamakh followed by some twinkling toes through the Orient defence before skewing his shot narrowly wide.
The fourth was soon to follow. Gibbs broke on the left and inside the area was unneccesarily tugged to the ground by Whing. Bendtner claimed afterwards that he was on penalty duty anyway but this one was his and he duly drilled the ball into the net for his hat-trick.
It was to be his last contribution of note as Arsène withdrew the dane five minutes later, a signal for his team selection on Saturday perchance? Rosický had been withdrawn following a blow to the head which had left him dazed and confused whilst Diaby’s return to fitness is being taken as gingerly as those of others in the squad, lasting little more than an hour.
It left the finishing line-up looking somewhat stronger in midfield than the beginning, Nasri and Wilshere entering the fray. Was that an unnecessary risk on the part of the manager or simply an indication of the toll that the recent run of fixtures has taken on the squad’s fitness? The latter more likely but a more typically English team might well have left the move dropping into the former’s category.
The fifth goal was a collector’s item, Gaël Clichy’s shot drilled low and into the corner with fifteen minutes to go. It topped off the evening with the strike a signal of a/be-musement that the full back had scored.
Post match Arsène was pleased with the win following the Carling Cup final defeat but was more intent on focussing the players onto Sunderland. Whilst he denied Bendtner was likely to start against Sunderland, it would be a surprise if he did not,
It puts him in contention to play against Sunderland. That for us, is a vital game.
The last sentence is the key. It is all very well us getting excited about next week’s encounter in Catalunya but a win on Saturday is equally important. With United travelling to Liverpool on Sunday, for them to know Arsenal are a point behind puts pressure on them that has not been necessarily there before.
Whilst Liverpool are not the force of previous seasons, Dalglish has turned their results around to bring the club to sixth in the table with a decent home record the driving force. Dropped points put Arsenal in a strong position to overhaul United in the coming week.