The FA Cup or as it should be referred to from now on: ‘Cosa Nostra’. I was having a bit of an Italio/Latin afternoon yesterday. I have no idea why but anyway did you ever notice how the Romans used to call the Mediterranean ‘Mare Nostrum’? There is a justifiable sense of ownership about it, a confident swagger as they referred to it as ‘Our Sea’. You have probably twigged where I am going with this now: ‘Cosa Nostra’, the FA Cup, Our Cup and if anyone tries to take it away from us they will have to answer to Tony Soprano, cah-peesh?
Well there was no need to bring out the heavies yesterday afternoon; it was just about as perfect as it could get really. We draw home advantage, check. We play a team whose priorities lay elsewhere, check. We are able to rest key players while some youth and fringe get important game time, check. No one gets injured and we win and progress to the next round, check, check, check.
Everyone was handed a script prior to the game and everyone knew what to do, or so we thought. Unfortunately two of our players namely Gibbs and Koscielny fluffed their lines early on and allowed Sunderland to take the lead. The problem is, when this happens there is always a nagging doubt that even though we know we have the better team, an upset could always be on the cards.
As it turned out we didn’t have to worry for too long as parity arrived in the shape of Campbell shortly after with a well crafted goal involving Iwobi and Walcott down the left flank before everyone’s favourite Costa Rican guided the ball home to make it one – one.
Wenger had chosen his team well; just enough to do the job but no unnecessary wasting of energy, only the smallest amount of extra pressure in the form of Arteta and Ramsey’s introduction was required to finish the day’s work.
Man of the Match was Bellerin who ran Sunderland ragged down the left flank; it was he who was finally able to send the ball across for Ramsey to show Walcott how to finish, the third goal gave us breathing space and that came in the form of yet another beautifully weighted pass from Bellerin which made its way all the way across the goal mouth for Giroud to tap home.
Wenger had plan B, C and D on the bench, if we had just been one ahead with ten minutes to go he would have sent on Monreal for some proper defensive cover in an attempt to avoid a draw and a horrible, energy sapping return trip to Sunderland that would follow but as we were two up he was able to give Jeff his long awaited debut.
We get our new signing next week, why am I so sure? Look at the pattern. The club announce medium level signings only after Wenger has given certain players, usually youngsters, a chance to shine. In the close season it is normally after the Emirates Cup, the reason being is so as not to harm the confidence of those who might be hoping to make a particular position their own or older players wanting to re-establish themselves after injury.
In yesterday’s case Chambers was the youngster being protected and Arteta was the experienced player trying to re-established himself. Although they have now had their games, improved their confidence, had their chance to show what they can do or still do in the case of Mikel without the confidence sapping knowledge of already having met someone in the training ground who is more than likely to be taking their place in the very near future.
But, next week gentle sensitivities will be put aside and we will get someone who can do a Champions League level job in the form of El Neny, the much talked about Egyptian. By the way, with world class players the club announce them as and when they happen there is no pattern or not one that I can see.
Villa at home in the next round please?
Cech: Zen and the Art of Goalkeeping. 9
Bellerin: MOTM, most of the team were functioning at 60% output but not our Hector, 100% for him. 9
Gabriel: Perfect game for him, if it wasn’t for that Costa incident he could well have been the break through player of the season, gets better with every game really, only a question of time before he becomes first choice. 7
Koscielny: someone near to me at the game asked the question, who is Captain, I didn’t know but low and behold it was Kozzer; the guy next to me said that he expected him to make the captaincy his own. I looked at him, smiled, said nothing but knew he was wrong as it is going to Özil. 6
Gibbs: this competition thing between him and Monreal is working really well, Gibbs is rightly second choice but you can see that he does give it everything. 7
Oxlaide-Chamberlain: Did you hear the rumour that Chelsea might try and sign him if Hazard leaves? What was your reaction? Was it, oh no, you’re not having another one of ours or was it, hmmm, if he goes who could we buy? He is getting his run of games but he is still not impressing. 5
Chambers: perfectly decent job but he is not going to make Wenger think twice about buying further defensive midfield back up. 6
Iwobi: some good touches, lovely drag back in the first half, perfect game for him to take his training wheels off. 6
Campbell: getting better but with Ozil and Sanchez setting very high standards I still have my doubts. 7
Walcott: I have made so many predictions that he is going to leave to another club and have obviously been wrong every time, I have decided to change tack and predict that he will stay at Arsenal so long that he will become the next manager. 5
Giroud: perfect example of someone doing just what is needed with the least amount of effort. 8
Written by LB