Arsenal 3 – 0 Burnley
1 – 0 Vela (25)
2 – 0 Eduardo (51)
3 – 0 WHO??????????? (84)
A performance that got the goals it deserved. Ahead of the clash in Rome this week, Arsene changed things around with Eduardo leading the line and the team through to the Sixth Round and home tie with Hull City, which if won brings a clash with Chelsea onto the horizon. Unsurprisingly, Manchester United drew the ‘easier’ side in the last four, the media salivating this morning over who will not be able to stop them on the barely able to stifle a yawn trip to another double / treble / quadruple / quintuple.
Three cracking goals and an entertaining game which defied the elements. It is a sad indictment of the top flight in English football that two Championship sides have restored my faith in football in this country. Neither Cardiff or Burnley came to ‘park their buses on the edge of their penalty area‘; both sides were prepared to set out their stall to try and play football as it should be played, taking Arsenal on at their own game as it were. It is not hard to see why their Premier League counterparts react defensively when the results are taken into account but both clubs are a credit to the game. Particular mention should also be given to Burnley in their tackling. In a week when their higher paid equivalents have shown scant regard for the well-being of their opponents, the Turf Moor club’s defenders proved that to tackle firmly but fairly is not an art-form as extinct as the Dodo; Carlisle and Caldwell in particular gave fine examples of how tackles in the area can be made without fouls being conceded.
Arsenal started well, probing on the flanks, Gibbs on the left with Arshavin and the Sagna / Eboue reviving The Good Old Days on the right. Gibbs, once more proved a capable deputy and showed more signs of being an excellent long-term prospect. He shares many things in common with his predecessors in that position; good positional sense, excellent recovery speed, productive support to the attack. He also has a right foot that is used only for standing on as his magical little dribble in the second half penetrated the Burnley area, grinding to an untimely end as he cut back inside to shoot with his left rather than let rip with his other foot.
Just past the halfway mark, Arshavin capitalised on some loose play by the visitors to scurry over the halfway line and find Vela. A quick flick on the ball between a defenders legs, another touch to take him clear of some more close attention, finished with a deft chip over the ‘keeper; forty-five yards and three touches of the ball to the back on the net, an object lesson in how to make the ball do the work to free up a player’s mind.
Much is being made of the technique for Eduardo’s goal, a stunning left foot volley following Alex Song’s deliberately weighted chip. The timing of the Croat’s movement to stay onside matched the elegance of the pass he volleyed home. Unusually, van Persie did not equal the standards when in a similar position on the other side of the area or the result would have been more emphatic.
The icing on the cake came with six minutes to go when an Alex Song backheel following some good passing between Gallas and Walcott, set Emmanuel Eboue free in the area, the Ivorian producing the coolest of finishes with a low drive into the bottom corner. If it was seen with disbelieving eyes then, that last sentence is still typed with disbelieving fingers caused not by the players involved, well, yes it was. I am going to start what will no doubt be a popular campaign, “Bring Back The Wayward Finishing Eboue, The World Is Too Scary When He Scores”. I’ll post a link to the Petition later in the week…
Many positives to be taken from the performance, not least from the determination of those ‘second stringers‘ to prove a point to the manager and their colleagues that even though everyone is returning to fitness, the squad know underperformance can be rewarded with a spot of time in the comfy chairs whilst others run around on the pitch in their place.