A good and merited win last night against Newcastle in a match that no-one would have been surprised if it had ended in the same 6 – 3 scoreline as at Anfield in this competition last season. Very many positives, not least a sparkling return from Emmanuel Eboue showing the driving form on the right that suggests he does have a longer term future in midfield than some would have you believe. Twice Given denied him and again when he created an opportunity for Walcott.
It was not plain sailing though but in those troubled waters, the first competitive outing for Lukasz Fabianski suggested that Arsene has signed another young player ready to replace an older head, or in this case, two. Perhaps not this season but judging by last night, if Jens were to move in January, we would be reasonably well served in the Goalkeeping department. He looked assured when dealing with crosses and his ball handling was generally confident. It is not often that I agree with Sam Allardyce but his assertion that Martins could have had a hat-trick was not far from the mark. It would however be disingenuous for him to believe that they would have won the game because Shay Given made several good saves that, by the same logic he used, would have made Arsenal’s name still be in the draw for the next round.
To get carried away with the win would serve little purpose for whilst it is a competition and is there to be won, the Carling Cup is better serving Arsenal as a testing ground, one where those who do not play regularly get some needed match practice. In doing so, Arsene ordinarily gives himself a quiet pat on the back but last night he was, in newspaper speak, “purring” about the central midfielders performances and quite rightly so. Lassana Diarra dominated that area, was singled out by Le Boss after the game,
Diarra is ready to play at this level and we got him for £2m – a lot less than was announced
Traore was another who I thought performed well, supporting the attack well which at least this time was the right kind of sharpness as opposed to the blade alledgedly found in his pocket at White Hart Lane. Several good crosses were spurned either through misplaced headers or Given’s agility; one was put to good use by Bendtner with a thumping header to break the deadlock. The Dane had missed a couple of good chances beforehand but the match proved he has the mental attitude required to make the grade, continuing to plug away not shirking the opportunity to try again. Denilson rounded off the win with a cracking strike suggesting that if Traore has learned from Clichy’s form, Fabregas’ willingness to shoot from distance is rubbing off on the rest of the midfielders at the Club.
Whilst there were strong plus points, it was not all plain sailing. Martins escaped from Senderos a couple of times, requiring Fabianski’s assistance to rescue the situation. When the same player rounded the Pole, Senderos returned the favour to clear off the line to retain the hard-earned lead gained minutes before. The centre of defence was not strong yet Song played better there than he had done so previously by all accounts. Let’s remember, his only other first team outing in this position was in a pre-season friendly. One game a career does not make but he made an encouraging contribution to the side last night. May be more time ought to be given; some players are slow-burners and need regular outings to convince people that the manager was right to perservere with them. Song is one of those, I suspect. That is not to say the negative opinions are wrong and I would not feel comfortable with him appearing at centre-half regularly in The Premiership, more that may be those opinions ought to be toned down a little bit for now.
A good win presenting the same players, more or less, with another opportunity next month to show their wares to the watching public as a unit. Disappointing perhaps that Merida and Lansbury did not get an appearance (of any substance or at all) yet their time will come.