Arsenal Ease Into FA Cup Fourth Round & From The Vaults: 1932

acArsenal 2 – 0 Hull City

1 – 0 Mertesacker (20)
2 – 0 Sanchez (82)

Arsenal’s defence of the FA Cup began with a comfortable win over last season’s vanquished finalists. It was the most curious of ties, played out with the energy of a practice match on the part of the visitors whilst Arsenal provided enough energy to win. A real sense of perspective on the contest with more attention focused on Jimmy Bullard’s attire on television than on events on the pitch.

No criticism should be levelled at the players; after all, winning games at a canter is only a problem if you cannot move through the gears when required. There was precious little danger of that yesterday.

Alexis garnered praise for a tireless performance, capped off with a fine goal to seal the victory. Others put in a good night’s work as well, most notably Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla. Against lacklustre opponents, the pair asserted their creative authority on the game, giving the maestro the stage upon which to sparkle.

The concern is the toll the continuous playing is taking on the Chilean. Phil Neville may have overstated the case in claiming Alexis is carrying the team but he isn’t far off the truth. Arsène sought to allay fears that the Chilean was in the ‘Red Zone’, arguing that it was just ‘Flaming Orange’ at the moment.

For once it is difficult to argue with Wenger’s post-match assertion that Arsenal were in control of proceedings,

We were in control and it was a positive game. We created many chances and it took us a while until the 82nd minute to get the second goal but overall I think we had a serious, positive and good collective performance.

The margin of victory might have been wider. Alexis could have scored a couple before the 82nd minute whilst Theo Walcott’s ring-rust denied him the chance to cap his return to first team action with a goal. The positive from that is his ease at making the runs to get into position. Timing will return over the coming matches.

Steve Bruce was lost for words at the paucity of Hull’s offering, a feeling intensified by the embarrassed disbelief at Per Mertesacker scoring from a corner. The resignation as he spat – I’ll paraphrase –  “Conceding from a corner to them?“, suggests it will be a long hard five months if his charges don’t improve significantly in the Premier League.

Dover fans might have taunted Palace with, “You’re going down with the Leicester“; both sides will hope Hull replicate this lacklustre outing to give them hope.

Mertesacker will have enjoyed the respite from the tribulations which have haunted his season. Rarely harried in possession, he was quick to intercept in the event of Hull mustering anything which resembled an attack through the middle. Even his goal was minimal effort; a loping stride or two and a little hop off his tiptoes to guide the ball home.

It’s a match into which nothing too much can be read. Arsenal were so far superior that it was almost too easy. David Ospina had to a couple of saves to make as the rumour mill went into overdrive that the position of first-choice custodian was his to lose. Which will probably be soon and due to injury, if the misfortune which has blighted his time at the club so far is anything to go by.

Coquelin was busy here, there and everywhere on the pitch. Arsène gave him hope that a squad place might be forthcoming if he keeps it up but the jury remains out on Joel Campbell. The Costa Rican international understandably drifted in and out of the game which is unsurprising given what little playing time he has enjoyed this season. It might have been different had he scored the early opportunity presented to him. He huffed, harried, played and neat pass or two but offered nothing to suggest he has a long-term future in the starting line-up.

Prior to the match, it was suggested the club had offered him a new contract. A dubious turn of events in view of the closeness to being sold he came last summer and on the basis of the rarity of his appearances this season, strange especially as he has not been able to use them to force more than the most fleeting of movement off the bench.

It was a pleasant way to finish off a difficult week. Tonight’s fourth round draw will no doubt throw out tougher tests – let’s face it, they can’t be much easier – but immediate attention turns to Stoke City’s visit at the weekend and transfer window.

The first rumour of the week surrounds St Etienne’s centre half, Loic Perrin. Yes, Reggie’s younger brother which with all the comedy defending this season, means he will fit right in.

Super.

From The Vaults

An interest contrast this morning from this day in 1932 as Arsenal prepared for their forthcoming FA Cup Third Round tie with non-League Darwen.

The defending champions were becoming bigger news, the first story from the inside pages as opposed to the sports sections, but underline what the romance of the FA Cup was all about. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker; they were just about the only professions not represented in Darwen’s £25 squad (equivalent of £9.5k today) as the prepared to face their opponents whose value was £40k (£15m) today.

No mercy was shown by Arsenal the following Saturday as Darwen were put to the sword with an 11 – 1 scoreline.

’til Tomorrow.

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132 thoughts on “Arsenal Ease Into FA Cup Fourth Round & From The Vaults: 1932

  1. Bill

    It’s an old argument, but we will know Giroud was coming in a number two striker to RVP and someone became our number one by default. In summer 2013 we attempted to being in a number one striker when we went for both Higuain and Suarez. We made a complete arse of the whole thing, but it seemed clear that Wenger was in the hunt for a new first choice striker. Since then we don’t appear to have tried to bring anyone in for the striker position and Welbeck was an injury replacement signing when it was clear Giroud would be out for a while.

  2. Bill, really, if we’ve learned anything from these past few seasons I don’t think we need to talk about a first XI; more a first XV or more because of injuries and fixture congestion, especially if we overcome Monaco. For me the best way to look at it is that there’s a tier of definite starters including players like Alexis and Ozil, and then a set of players including Welbeck, Walcott, Cazorla, Ramsey etc from which we can pick different combinations in the unlikely event that they should all be fit.

    At this point Welbeck is one of those guys that few people would pick in their best team, but he’ll have the knack of making any team better.

  3. I think this nonsense comparing Walcott and Ox is missing a point.

    They are at once similar and different.

    Walcott is better running into position punting the ball forward and he is the sharper finisher from close range.

    Ox is a different beast. He is better with ball at feet as he is a better dribbler and he can also score belters from range. Bc of his close control skills, he can also play centrally.

    Both have been culpable defensively. Both have also tighten their game defensively.

    They are different tools with a similar attribute, pace.

  4. It’s like that Adam Sandler film, Fifty First Dates. Every single point is repeated again and again as if it’s being stated for the very first time. no matter what the arguments have been in the past that completely shoot comments down, they are regurgitated next time.

    Birdkamp

    Welbeck isn’t one of those guys, he’s dat guy!

  5. I guess it is that time of night…

    No one is really comparing Theo and the Ox, one to one, Santori. Except you of course!

  6. Arteta is one of the most underrated players in the world.

    He is central to arresting any down turn in fortune as Wenger had to go through 4 critical seasons rebuilding the spine of the club with sufficient experience.

    He holds the ball well and does the unseen/less glamorous stuff well. A consummate professional.

    Its a pity we did not get him slightly earlier.

    That said, he will face more wear and tear issues and will have to be replaced sooner than later.

    If both Flamini and Coquelin continue their positive progression, we can either keep Arteta one more season or add in the summer (Possibly someone who can add attributes of the ever missing Diaby…there are many similar pretenders to Diaby but not many that possess both the physical presence and skill…crucially however they are at very least available for selection. Not sure where Diaby is at the moment but I can’t see the sense in extending a contract for him)

  7. Wavey, innit.

    Man, I’m pretty happy with our attack. If Sanogo leaves on loan there’s an argument for another striker, but right now we’ve got a slippery mix of power, pace and creativity.

    For me it’s as good as it’s been since…hmm 2005? I mean that too. It’s in the variety, plus the fact we’ve got a superstar, which we haven’t had since Henry (OK, maybe RvP, but the supporting cast was ropey at that time).

  8. Hmmm I could have sworn someone was making a comparison regarding Ox and Theo.

    “I agree with most of what you say but the big thing with Ox is that he isn’t a goal threat. I think the thing is, a fit Theo still offers us more than what the Ox can offer us. We have seen Theo give us double digit goals and assists basically since he has become a regular and I am not knocking Ox because I really rate him but the one thing that he has failed to do given the fact that he has started virtually every match this season is score goals. 14 goals, 5 sub appearances in the PL and only 1 goal to show for it is not a player that is a lock to start as a RW/RS.”

    C

    Followed by something about Ox being a liability at times at the back.

    😉

  9. If you talk of attack, sure. Forwards, fine. Strikers, not really. Giroud and Welbeck are good but this is not Wrighty, Anelka, Henry, RvP territory, Al.

    Sanchez is the standout but doesn’t seem a lone striker. That’s what we were discussing.

  10. He was picking up on a part of a wider discussion, Santori. But fair enough, if C was. Then you went and furthered the “nonsense”! So, Pot, meet Kettle!

  11. As I say, Welbeck may prove to be a wonderful prolific striker. I’ll defer judgment until May on whether we need to look for a top striker. It’s academic until then anyway.

  12. We’re in quite vague territory here LSG as Giroud is the only one that can only play one position. Attack to me is Walcott, Giroud, Welbeck and Alexis, who did a pretty good impression of a CF last night. It’s got good variety to it, and they’re all established internationals for serious footballing nations.

    After that you have players who can fill similar positions on the flanks but have different styles – AOC, Ozil, Cazorla etc can’t really be described as forwards in the positions they take up.

    But yes, with Podolski gone, Sanogo going and Campbell in the air, there could be room for another player.

  13. But this is the point. I know it’s anathema to many, but a forward can be wonderful without being prolific. It’s unusual admittedly, and 1 in 3 is the bare minimum, but if the player’s contribution is such that when he plays his team mates are getting more chances to score because he’s in the team stretching the opposition’s back line, tiring them out, winning the ball back off them and countless other things then he’s worth his place.

    Ivica Olic, that kind of guy. I think his best ever season was 1 in 2 at Bayern, but nobody was doubting his worth to the team.

  14. Birdkamp:

    How in the world can anyone be happy with our group of attacking players when after 20 games we are on pace to score a total of 65 league goals? Its not a small sample size and this is almost the exact same scoring pace we have seen from this squad for the last 3 years. You can talk about how much better we look on paper but at some point you have to accept that what you see is what you get. I do expect us to get score a few more goals with Giroud and hopefully Walcott back but I certainly don’t expect us to start scoring for fun. Giroud/Welbeck probably give us 15 -16 league goals per season from the striker position. A lot depends on how well Theo comes back and expecting him to score in the high teens in league goals again is certainly not a slam dunk.

  15. Birdkamp:

    “a forward can be wonderful without being prolific”

    That’s what they used to say about Emile Heskey in the England squad.

    Someone has to actually score the goals and its clear from watching this squad for 3 years now that we have not had enough goal scoring firepower. Sanchez was a big upgrade but at least so far Welbeck does not look like he has added a lot of goals to the side. CF should be the easiest position on the pitch to score from and its a huge opportunity cost to be playing with inconsistent finishers in that position. Same with our most advanced midfielder who should also be in position to score goals and if he is not a scorer you lose more opportunities.

  16. Bill, I’m off to bed but the answer is simple; the entire team played terribly until November, for a whole host of different reasons. Injuries, WC hangovers, unfamiliarity, and yeah, some shoddy management too.

    On numbers, take Drogba – less than 1 in 2. and a record that is skewed by two very prolific seasons interspersed by ones in which he got 5 in 24 or 11 in 36. But is anyone ever going to say he wasn’t a vital part of that Chelsea team?

    I think we obsess over these naked stats too much.

  17. Bill, it’s not like baseball. That’s the best way I can put it. It’s not like assembling a batting line up based on who’s got the most rbis and whatever other statistics they use in that sport.

    It’s not compartmentalised like that; chemistry is what you’re aiming for. Think holistic man.

    Night.

  18. Against a lower table’s second side, Alexis can play up top as part of a front 3. But he isn’t going to be effective like that consistently against better teams. And that is what I meant, Al.

  19. For the record, in the meantime I think we need a CB to start (not a backup) and a central midfielder who can do what Arteta does withy he ball but has more energy and physical strength. And I do think that would make a difference in both defending and attacking better.

  20. Birdkamp.

    How many teams that don’t have C Ronaldo in their squad can you think of that have won their league and competed for CL title when they only get 15 league goals from their CF? Anything can happen but not having a top class scorer at the position makes it much harder to compete at that level. Nothing is guaranteed but unless we are happy competing for 4th place it would really help if we got a CF who could be a reliable leading scorer for us and compete for the leagues golden boot.

  21. Also, Bill, when was the last time we really turned over a top team in our league? We don’t seem to beat MU, Chelsea, City without a top striker providing that attacking threat.

    And the single biggest frustration we have at this point, I feel, is that Arsenal just can’t win these big games. Spuds may finish below us but they beat Chelsea. That’s a memorable achievement. For me this season the game at home v. Dortmund is basically the only relatively big game we have managed. The mood would be much better if we could win one of these league matches. We play City away after Stoke this month–who is looking forward to that (unless Toure is at ACN and Aguero is out injured!)?

  22. I tend to get grumpy around the transfer windows, probably because there is the chance to improve our team yet we don’t use these opportunities as well as we might.

  23. @Wavey

    I agree, to say there wasmt anybody we couldnt bring in even on loan is ridiculous to be honest, I thinj there were players Arsene just wasn’t looking or was looking for a certain type which Alderweild checks all the boxes. Has play RB, CB and CDM for Southampton and performed well whereever played.

    @LSG

    I agree, Theo isnt Sanchez and Ozil class but I think he has that potential. Peopke that say he is injured prone should look at his injury record. Outside of last season when he had an abdominal injury and the tore his ACL he was regularly playing playing match in and match out for club. I do think as he develops and gets fit he can be as good as any winger in Europe not named Robben or Ribery. He can be juat as influential as Hazard just in a different way. Hazard needs the ball at his feet where Theo is a player that terrifies kiterally every defender he faces. I rememeber Pep, who is a pretty good player evaluator saying something like Theo can be as good as anybody if he stays fit.

  24. I think a core of Ozil, Sanchez, Theo, a fully fit Ramsey, Welbeck, Ox and to a lesser extent Jack (onky cause he gives you 3-4 matvhes then hes off for a month) is a quiality core to build around.

  25. Daily Heil running a story that Chezzer was caught smoking in the shower room after the game against Southampton.

    Also running a story that Van Dijk is joining Sunderland from Celtic for £8m. If that is true it proves that the transfer policy is a complete farce and that Wenger has no intention of bringing new players in during the January window.

  26. @wavey

    If true he is going to Sunderland than unless we bring in Varane, I habe lost all faith in us bring in defensive reinforcements and we are likely to bbe playing Thursday night footy. That lad can play CB or DM and do so excellently. People question Wanyama coming from Celtic and he has been exactly what we need and Southampton got him for 10M.

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