Arsenal triumphed yesterday to set up a clash in the quarter finals against Manchester United at Old Trafford. The final scoreline is slightly flattering to us in the sense that we did not really pepper their goal with shots with when we raised our game, we found the back of the next. 5 times, the ball was restarted in the centre circle to give us a comprehensive victory against Leyton Orient.
Wholesale changes were made to the side that started at Wembley on Sunday. Only Tomas Rosicky remained from that side. Arsene Wenger even afforded a début to Conor Henderson who played on either side of the attacking triumvirate. He even completed the full 90 minutes in his first game for Arsenal. Henderson was tasked with set piece duties and from the couple of times we’ve seen, he does have a sweet left foot. Perhaps he was slightly overawed by the occasion and was keeping it simple in the first half. He took more touches in the second half and looked far more dangerous cutting in from the right than on the left.
That Henderson played the entire game was more down to the fact that we had the game sewn up by half time. We may have lost a 4 goal lead at St James Park but there was no way a League One side can come back from 3-0 down at half time. With Robin Van Persie out for at least a month, the other strikers in the squad took this match as a chance to show that they now warrant an extended run in the team.
Marouane Chamakh scored his first goal since the win at Villa Park. Rosicky showed good burst of pace to cut the ball back for the Moroccan to side foot home. Then, it was the Nicklas Bendtner show. The big Dane got only his second ever hattrick in Arsenal. A very well directed header for the first, another right footed curler from the edge of the box for the second and a penalty for the third. All that despite not being the designated central striker of the night.
We’ve seen how good he can be for his Danish national side but Bendtner has not shown that much for his club side. Yes, he was instrumental in a prolong cameo towards the end of last season but injuries in pre-season meant that he wasn’t able to kick on from there. On current form, he is the better bet ahead of Chamakh to spearhead our attack. That is, until the return of RvP.
To cap off a wonderful night, Gael Clichy put the icing on the cake by notching only his second ever goal for Arsenal. This time, there was no deflection to take credit away from him. Emmanuel Eboue’s cross eluded 2 Arsenal players before Clichy volleyed home in the 75th of the tie. He deserved that goal as he has improved his defensive side of the game since the turn of the year.
Ignasi Miquel got another in the centre of defence and looked to be a very promising player. Even though, he was hardly challenged by the Orient attacker, Miquel did make several important clearances. The most notable one was when Manuel Almunia went on another of his walk-abouts. Miquel’s reading of the game is excellent and has the makings of a very good defender. Once he builds his upper body strength up, he could be someone to watch out for in the future.
After the shambles on Sunday, it was imperative that the team get back into winning ways. Albeit, via beating a side 2 divisions lower. However, at the end of the day, a win is a win. Time to rest those legs for Sunderland and look to put some pressure on United.