Arsenal secured passage to the 4th round of the Capital One Cup after a dramatic penalty shootout win over West Brom. Arsenal took the lead in the 2nd half when Elsfeld was played through by a good pass from returning striker Niklas Bendtner but a moment of lapse of concentration in defence saw the Baggies draw level when their striker headed in from a close range. Fabianski stood no chance. The extra 30 minutes produced no winner which meant penalties had to be used to decide the winner. Gnabry had his penalty saved but thanks to two misses from West Brom, Monreal sealed the win with a well taken spot-kick. Arsenal have been drawn against Chelsea in the 4th round. That will be tough but it’s not beyond Arsenal to beat the Blues.
Beyond the result, there were some things I noticed from the game and I will share it with you all.
After 2 years in Arsenal hiatus, the ‘great’ Dane returned to the Arsenal line-up against West Brom. After Wenger failed to bring in another striker in the summer, he blocked Bendtner’s exit so that the club could have a back-up to Giroud. I was expecting him to fire on all cylinders against the Baggies but he wasn’t up to it. He was lacklustre and wasteful. In 120mins, he had no shot on goal. He should have had at least one yesterday when Gnabry played him through on goal but he dallied too long and allowed the West Brom defender to make a last ditch tackle. On the brighter side, he made the assist for Arsenal’s only goal and coolly dispatched his penalty despite huge boos from the West Brom fans and also been Arsenal’s first penalty of the night. It takes a lot of courage to take the first penalty. If he had missed, there would have been enormous pressure on the rest of the penalty takers.
Elsfeld scores first senior goal for Arsenal.
The German youngster scored Arsenal’s only goal of the night yesterday and it was his first senior goal for the Gunners. It was a well taken one. For the goal, he showed movement to get in behind the Baggies’ defence and also a superb control to take the pass from Bendtner and calmness to slot in past the goalkeeper. Hope he continues in such sparkling form.
Fabianski has first game for Arsenal.
The Polish goalkeeper had his first outing for the Gunners yesterday. The Pole was preferred ahead of summer loanee Emiliano Viviano. In the previous games of the season (Champions League and EPL), his younger compatriot Wojicech Szczesny has been the one in goal. He was brilliant yesterday. He made a couple of good saves and could do nothing about West Brom’s equalizer as it was a trigger from close range. Though he didn’t save any of penalties, his agility in goal helped force West Brom’s players to fire wide. With him in goal yesterday, it seems he is ahead of Viviano in the pecking order.
Arteta’s injury scare
While we were hoping for our injury stars to return to full fitness, another recently returned one seems to have joined the injured lot again. Mikel Arteta just returned from injury at the weekend when he came on in the last quarter of the win over Stoke. He had his first start of the season yesterday but he limped off in the win. Reports seem to have allayed any fear of a long term injury. It seems he just suffered a cramp. That’s not unusual as he hasn’t played for a long haul in as many months. Hope he will be fit to make the squad against Swansea at the weekend. He will be pivotal in coming weeks.
Chuba Akpom impresses.
The youngster impressed yesterday. Though he didn’t start the game but did well coming off the bench in the closing minutes of regulation time. He showed mobility and good movement. He also took his penalty very well. It goes to show that on his young shoulders, a matured and calm head lies. It would make more sense to give him more opportunities rather than the wasteful and sluggish Bendtner.