Orient Preview & Szczesny Wants To Stay In Pole Position

Arsenal travel to Brisbane Road this afternoon not having lost to Leyton Orient in nearly a century. If that 96 year run continues, it will be no surprise with the whole club bouyed by the midweek victory over Barcelona.

It is crucial that the players do not believe that stepping onto the turf is enough this afternoon. They had enough warnings against Leeds and to a lesser extent, Huddersfield, to know that is not enough. Orient have been beaten once in twenty games so have belief in themselves which makes Brisbane Road a trickier place to visit than perhaps it normally would be.

Even so, a much changed Arsenal side should win this tie. It would be a surprise if many from Wednesday started this afternoon. With Stoke visiting The Emirates next week, this is the opportunity for Arsène to completely rotate the squad.

Indeed, those such as Djourou and Fàbregas could probably do with a complete rest, omitted from the bench as well. That won’t happen; Wenger has proven this term that the first XI might be rotated but only down to the bench in a number of cases, just in case things don’t go to plan.

Or if the going gets a bit tough. One thing that can be expected is that Orient will not try to outpass Arsenal. That, as they admit, is going to result in a thrashing. Instead, Stephen Dawson has offered the previously unheard of thought that Arsenal ‘don’t like it up ’em’. It truly is an astonishing insight.

It gets better as Dawson believes the Arsenal players will be so preoccupied with Birmingham and Barcelona that they will opt out of 50:50 challenges. A shame Dawson cannot read as he might have worked out that few of the players involved in those two games will be playing today.

There are some question marks about the midfield. I cannot believe that Nasri is fit enough to start and with such a busy time upcoming, a hamstring injury requires a rest, precluding him from being on the bench. It means that Rosicky will probably start with Fàbregas held in reserve.

Talking of which, Miquel would have benefitted from a cup tie or two earlier in the season which would have given him the opportunity to play, resting Koscielny. The Frenchman will probably start given Djourou’s injury scare post-Barcelona but will no doubt be grateful for a rest in coming weeks.

The team I expect Wenger to go with:

Almunia; Eboué, Kosicelny, Squillaci, Gibbs; Rosický, Denilson, Wilshere; Bendtner, Chamakh, Arshavin

Personally, I would slot Sagna into the centre and rest Koscileny but that is not a path Wenger will follow.

Question marks about the squad are nothing new yet whatever the circumstances, the players have pulled through for the manager in this competition. None of the half a dozen clubs which has ended Arsenal’s interest in the FA Cup during Wenger’s reign has come from outside of the Premier League. Only Cardiff have even got a replay out of him, such is Wenger’s parsimony.

One man who won’t mind being rotated today is Wojciech Szczesny. Well, he might do but then knowing he will be back in goal on Wednesday night softens the blow somewhat. For deputy Manuel Almunia, it is a turnaround he would not have considered following the closure of the September transfer window and the non-arrival of Mark Schwarzer.

Szczesny has shown all of the right attributes so far in his short time as Arsenal’s first choice goalkeeper. He is not without making mistakes but his judgement is right more often than it is wrong, and he has a little luck on his side. The Pole might have taken Gary Player’s maxim to heart and is not leaving anything to chance,

If I am given the chance to stay the No 1 I would be very happy to [continue]. There is very good competition at the Club so I can’t say there is no threat. I know that I have to be at my very best because if there is any slip up or drop in my performance, other goalkeepers will be happy to take my place.

I can’t demand playing time at a Club like this being 20-year-old. I know that when my chance came I had to take it with both hands and try to take the No 1 spot.

His emergence highlights a bizarre goalkeeping season for Arsenal. Almunia had been more consistent than in previous seasons and was injured for a lengthy spell. Fabianski replaced him, performed better than was expected before being injured for a lengthy spell. Szczesny stepped up to the plate and has not disappointed.

Whether or not he is the long-term solution remains to be seen. His performance on Wednesday suggests that he might be. It was a continuation of those matches before but it is still too early to say for certain that he will be first choice next season. If, however, he is a member of a trophy winning side, it will surely be impossible for Wenger to drop him for the start of the next campaign?

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.

427 thoughts on “Orient Preview & Szczesny Wants To Stay In Pole Position

  1. JonJon says:

    just seen the AW interview and he didnt seem too happy about it anyway..

  2. Passenal says:

    Great Twitter comment from Jack – he understands the nature of the FA cup!
    “Classic cup game that..we will have to beat them at home! Great crowd aswell.well done to Miquel.great debut and who said we need a new CB!”

  3. Passenal says:

    JonJon, I didn’t think Wenger sounded that upset

    On being in control before the late equaliser…
    “That’s what football is about. I believe we have played the game with the right attitude and I cannot fault our fighting spirit. You have to give credit to Leyton Orient. They never gave up and, as long as you don’t score the second goal, these kind of things can happen. It is a disappointment of course but we are still in the competition and the most important thing is that we go through, that’s what the Cup is all about. Today you had fighting spirit against a team who were technically superior, but in a Cup game fighting spirit has a chance.”

  4. JonJon says:

    miquel had a massive debut
    very impressed…but id like to see him in a few games at a higher level to make a concrete judgement…
    but he does look the part..composed and quick…strength maybe an issue but that can be worked on quickly…

  5. Dexter says:

    Of course it would be just grand to win every game 4 nil. maybe if we played Cesc, nasri, Theo, van Persie etc in every game we’d win a fair few by that score. Then when they got injured, knackered, banned etc we could all say, ah well, we almostwon something, but Wenger over used our best players and injuries did for us yet again. Then again, we could try and use the full squad, eek out results and see where it gets us.


    Jack has the attitude that a fair few of the club’s supporters could do with having

  6. dukeGoonem says:

    What happened to the good old days of getting knocked out to the likes of Wrexam and Sheffield Utd!

  7. Passenal says:

    Dexter, football is not predictable, which is why we love it so much. Like BBB on Weds, we had all the possession and passing, but without penetration and accuracy in the final third, unexpected results can happen. But we are not out of this competition and the first team got a well deserved rest. We live to fight another day.

  8. Dexter says:

    Miquellooks a good prospect and given that we have Kyle Bartley on loan at Rangers and further along in his development, we look set in the CB area for a fair few seasons.

  9. Sixtay says:

    Watching the goal again, I think rosicky has to take the blame for not closing down the player earlier. Any pressure on him and he probably would’ve surrendered possession.

    well, c’est la vie!

  10. Passenal says:

    Unfortunately, I remember that loss to Wrexham only too well duke!

  11. word says:

    Just looking at the fixtures and our 1st team basically get a well deserved rest from tasting silverware at wembley on the 27th Feb for 6 days.

    2nd March – B team take down orient on the flat surface at home.

    5th march is sunderland at home which should be a good warm up before facing a shook BBB on the 8th. Barca will be without their suspened best CB and quite possibly be without their generation long talisman leader Puyol. Their 1st choice goalie is most probably out but even if the latter 2 start they will be risks. Crucially they fear us and we know it. There is no better time to take on our biggest threat. A win puts us as very strong contenders to win the competetion.

    Now you may think ManU away in the FA cup is a tough draw and too quick to trot but again it turns out that it could be the best time to face our (again) biggest remaining rivals in the competition. A competition which they will regard as less priority than the league and the CL.

    Their fixtures fall like this:

    1st Mar – Chelsea away
    6th Mar – Liverpool away
    12th Mar- Arsenal home
    15th Mar- Marseille home

    Now imagine which manager has less headaches tonight?

  12. JonJon says:

    miquel or gibbs could have hacked him down too i suppose but still..
    almunia to get megged from that distance is just wrong

  13. dukeGoonem says:

    Just watched their goal again and it did go straight under Al. he should have saved it no doubt at all.

  14. dukeGoonem says:

    this is a cruel world and we have no time for sentiment. Looks like Al has lost his confidence completely now.

  15. Passenal says:

    David Villa’s goal went straight under Szczesny too, should he have saved that as well duke? Sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition forward. There is no shame in that, however lowly the team.

  16. JonJon says:

    “The most negative side of our result today is one more fixture and in fairness that is not what we needed.

    “We have had problems in the cups against teams from the lower divisions to finish them off, but also we have given a lot.

    “Sometimes, mentally, a breather would not be bad.

  17. JonJon says:

    i said this to shotta earlier but the two goals are uncomparable
    chesney came well off his line and was only yards away from closing villa down..he was megged from only a few yards…which is where you normally get megged from as you dont get the time to react…
    manny might as well of been megged from a penalty…it was easily 12 yards away..you dont get megged from 12 yards…you just dont…
    the two goals where totally different manny shouldnt have been beat…

  18. dukeGoonem says:

    a ha but there is one big difference between the two and that is time…Villa was so close it was quick as a flash, impossible to reract but today it was so far out the keeper should have had time to get down to it. look im not going to slag off A;l but going on the incident that happened it was a bad error. where’s ches’s it was so quick it was skill on the striker. all about time.

  19. dukeGoonem says:

    night all, im sure this debate will rage on tommorow.

  20. JonJon says:

    i watched bartley play today in the old firm…
    apart from a crunching tackle which knocked brown 10 feet in the air after only a few secs he didnt do much else…and rangers lost 3-0..
    smiths playing him as a midfielder though so….

  21. Nasir Jones-Nasri says:

    Wow. ESPN PFA has Joey Barton up on February’s short list for player of the month. What a joke. ESPN are taking the piss.

  22. Joshua says:

    JonJon is still banging on about Almunia; well, each to their own. For me only a totally clueless individual will blame Almunia for that goal. In fact I’ll goal further and say that Tehoue’s goal was tougher shot to save than a goal like Giggs’ one against Seaman in that infamous semi-final we really ought to have won at Villa Park as Seaman was falling backwards as Giggs struck the ball at the end of his run and it was from an angle. No one blames Seaman do they?

    It is even more irritating to hear people talk about the ball going under him… basic physics tells you that a well struck ball from that range is travelling faster than any human can react… to make a save from that range requires that the striker either not make a good enough connection or it actually hits the keeper. Almunia did what he could and no blame lies with him IMHO.

    I honestly feel that if more people got out from behind their keyboards, bought themselves a pair of boots and joined a Sunday League club you won’t get half as many misguided comments on the net…. if you ever get on a pitch with even a half decent semi-pro and understand what their skill levels are you’d understand why you cannot allow a shot at your goal keeper from the range that Tehoue had his shot. To expect any goalkeeper to save a shot taken at that pace from that distance as a matter of course explains why you get fans who’d call a player like Denilson rubbish and player like Clichy sh*t… it is down to simply not having a clue. A well struck ball can go through even the best keepers… ask David Seaman.

  23. Joshua says:

    I’ve only seen the highlights on BBC last night but I thought that Vela looked the class player in his time on the pitch for West Brom against Wolves and he took his goal well. I’m really glad that he didn’t bottle it and go to Spain where, I’m sure, he’d have found it much, much easier to settle and play. This loan deal could be the making of him… I even fancy Hodgson to add the polish and sparkle to his game. Early days yet but it is looking good.

    BTW whatever happened to Giovanni Dos Santos? Anyone know if he is still at Spurs? The guy just seems to have vanished…

  24. Limestonegunner says:

    I haven’t thought about Dos Santos for a while–good question. He made a real impact during the WC. Since then, Hernandez has been the one from Mexico making an impact this season. Hopefully this loan spell will give Vela the games to get his career back on track with Arsenal next season.

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