Were you surprised at the line-up? I guess not. Other than the presence of Johan Djorou and Craig Eastmond in the first eleven, it was pretty as I expected. When you see that, you can’t really argue that provided everyone is fit, Arsenal do have a really big and strong squad.
Those who anticipated that Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott would take this match by storm and increase their fitness level as well as form in order to relieve the goal-scoring pressure on Marouane Chamakh, got their wishes right. The former scored a beautiful curling shot into the top corner while the latter used his pace to perfection and beat the offside trap twice to bury the ball home. Simple yet effective.
There’s not much you can ask from the two of them. Yes, there were some heavy touches here and there but that is to be expected after a long lay-off. The fact that they shared 4 goals in 2 goals between them shows more than anything that Arsenal is not reliant on specific individuals for goals. I think usually, Arsene Wenger’s squad has always spread the goals around.
Denilson and Tomas Rosicky performed as expected of them and there wasn’t much trouble in controlling the middle of the park. However, their work were cut out by Eastmond who looked a bit overawed by the occasion. It seemed to me that there has been no progression from this young lad since his breakthrough last season. I don’t expect everyone to play like Jack Wilshere but Eastmond was not reading the game particularly well.
Djourou got another 90 minutes under his belt and was very lucky to have Laurent Koscielny as his centreback partner. The returning Frenchman had to deal with a couple of Newcastle player who managed to wriggle their way past Djourou. The Swiss also had some trouble dealing with the power of Andy Carroll. It has not been vintage from him since coming back after a year’s absence but hopefully he gets back to the level he once was.
Special mention do have to go to the keeper. Who would ever thought that by this time of the season, we would be singing the praises of 2 Polish keepers. Wojciech Szczesny played this game and was superb throughout. Even the distance he puts in punching the ball away was immense. He looked every bit possessed and hell bent on keeping a clean sheet. It is very rare for players to play to their words but this is one such occasion. Let’s just hope that now, he sees a little bit of future at Arsenal and renews his contract with the club.
As if to show you that Wenger means business in this season’s Carling Cup is the appearance one club captain, Cesc Fabregas. Many, including me were shocked to see him travelling for this game, let alone playing in it. I’m sure it has been a good few years since he last played in this competition. I cringed when I saw Joey Barton going right at Fabregas. Because it would backfire on the decision to play him should he get injured.
Another point to note is the way Emmanuel Eboue has been handling himself lately. The boy does not look too happy, is he. He has relapse into the former self that we didn’t want to see re-emerge. Going down and hitting the turf at the slightest of contact and sometimes even without any touch. It is embarrassing to see an Arsenal player do such things. He needs a real talking too. Maybe he can share a non-diving class with Chamakh.
All’s good though. We are through to the next phase and a little closer to a trophy. Till tomorrow.