Written by GoonerinExile
After the highs of Wednesday night, expecting either the fans or the players to get excited about the game against Leyton Orient was a big ask.
So with that in mind and also the visit of Stoke on Wednesday night and the trip to Wembley on Sunday we could only expect Arsene to field a much changed side.
The likely candidates were given a much needed outing, Squillaci, Rosicky, Gibbs, Denilson, Chamakh and Bendtner all needing starts. The surprise selection was our 18 year old Spanish centre back Ignasi Miquel. Remaining spots filled by Sagna, Arshavin and Song.
This side looked strong enough on paper to overcome League One opposition, unfortunately football, as the old adage goes, isn’t played on paper, it turns out at Brisbane Road it isn’t played on grass either, but still the pitch should not be used as an excuse as it seemed in the main to be flat enough to play our style of football on.
At kick off I sunk back into my sofa to relax and enjoy the match, this was my change from Wednesday night when I couldn’t move from the edge of my seat for 90 minutes of football.
Despite controlling possession from kick off the play stagnated around the edge of Orient’s box, where it became ponderous and confused in front of two banks of four defending. Bendtner seems in these games to think he can walk the ball around the opposition and forgets the Wengerball principle of pass and move, often realising too late that he needed to release the ball, and by then being too far into a treble stepover to do anything about it.
Chamakh was holding the ball up well and attempting to bring others in to the play, when through a combination of his hold up, a pass by Rosicky and a cross from Gibbs he was presented a chance on a plate but fluffed his lines and failed to get enough contact with the ball to give us an opener.
The first half played out with us camped mainly in their half or, if not in their half, in our half with possession in droves. Still failing to create any more clear cut chances except for a quick bit of interplay between Bendtner and Arshavin which saw the latter shoot wide at the near post and into the side netting.
Bendtner was shooting from improbable angles and positions but that is I suppose better than failing to have an effort on goal.
The second half continued as it left off with the team stalling in Orient’s defensive third. That was until Sagna decided to fire a shot from well over twenty yards, which after a bit of ping pong found its way to Bendtner who moved the ball wide to find space and picked out Rosicky with a cross, a well placed header later and it was one nil to the Arsenal.
Following the goal Orient then decided to play a bit and broke their banks of four at the back, this should have meant that we could then break through in numbers and on the counter. Twice after our goal breaks were made, but where we would normally expect to see two or three players join the break Arshavin had to make do with trying to score from 18 years out, and Song had to try and beat the defence on his own when he found himself clear.
Lacking match fitness or too frightened to commit men forward the team allowed Orient to get a foothold in the match, then the crowd started to get involved, and eventually we were made to pay for our ineffectiveness going forward, the ball falling to Tehoue, who in a blink of eye had skipped past Gibbs and Miquel and was through on goal, he smashed it as hard as he could between the legs of Almunia and added an unnecessary game to our fixture list.
In summation I think the team should have been good enough, but for whatever reason once they had got their noses in front decided to sit back and see out a comfortable win, I guess no one in the side got the memo that Barry Hearn wanted a replay at the Emirates and seemed to think what Orient had been giving up until the 53rd minute was all they could muster, they ended up getting a shock for their naivety.
A quick word on our debutant Miquel, for an 18 year old he appeared very calm at the back, unflustered in possession, and quick to read the game. Another cracking prospect for us to look forward to seeing more of.
Almunia 6 (still hesitant when the ball is his for the taking)
Sagna 7 (untroubled defensively, supported attack well when given the ball)
Squillaci 7 (great block with his face, otherwise untroubled)
Miquel 7 (would have been 8 but for his part in Orients goal)
Gibbs 6 (not as attacking as I would hope and dived in to give Tehoue the room to get away)
Rosciky 7 (seems to be unable to find his teammates consistently enough, but did score!)
Denilson 6 (kept the ball moving, rash in the tackle)
Song 6 (needed to step up to the plate and move the team forward more)
Arshavin 7 (always showing and continued to try for 90 minutes, shame his teammates were not on same wavelength)
Chamakh 6 (a shadow of the player we saw at the start of the season)
Bendtner 6 (needs to be taken down a peg or two, glimpses of skill followed by a lot of arrogance)