Daily Archives: February 28, 2022

Thoughts on Arsenal’s Carabao Cup Adventure

Liverpool beat Chelsea in Carabao Cup final as nerve-wracking penalty  shootout ends with late substitute Kepa Arrizabalaga putting spot-kick over

Kepa launching the ball into orbit

The Carabao Cup was concluded last night in what I would describe as a beautiful game of football with two of England’s finest locking horns for the right to be the champion. The Carabao Cup has been dominated by Manchester City in recent seasons, with the Citizens winning seven of the last nine editions including four straight triumphs. Arsenal, on the other hand, haven’t won the Carabao Cup since 1993, and the Gunners came quite close this season, with a semifinal berth that saw Mikel Arteta’s men lose to the eventual champions, Liverpool.

The adventure started with Arsenal playing in the Second Round for the first time in eons against West Bromwich Albion. The game marked the debut of Aaron Ramsdale in goal, and the young Englishman has gone to cement his place in the starting XI ahead of Bernd Leno. The game was a goalfest with Arsenal smashing six goals past their hosts with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netting a hattrick. His next hattrick after this turned out to be in Barcelona colors against Valencia. There were also goals on the night for Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka.

Aubameyang grabs a hat-trick as Arsenal hit West Brom for six | Reuters

The Third Round of the Carabao Cup saw the Gunners host lowly AFC Wimbledon with Lacazette opening the scoring with a penalty before late goals from Hale End Academy graduates, Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah settled the contest. With the gulf in class between both clubs, there was only going to be one winner and it turned out to be Arsenal. Things got a bit juicier in the Carabao Cup Round of 16 with Arsenal hosting struggling Leeds United, but the Gunners had to wait for a Calum Chambers goal off the bench, before Nketiah settled the contest. That would also turn out to be Chambers’ last goal for the club, as he left for Aston Villa in the winter transfer window.

Arsenal had a rather favorable quarterfinal fixture in the Carabao Cup, hosting Sunderland, and smashing five past them with Nketiah netting a hattrick but the game will be fondly remembered for Charlie Patino making his Arsenal debut and scoring as well.

Arsenal warned not to put too much pressure on Charlie Patino after debut  goal as Danny Mills gives advice to wonderkid

Then there was the semifinals against the juggernauts, Liverpool, at Anfield. In all honesty, many Arsenal fans, me included, expected a routine loss, especially with the fact that we were thrashed resoundingly by the same team in the Premier League, so losing Granit Xhaka to a dismissal early in the game made chills run down my spine, but the team rallied and put up a defensive masterclass to leave Merseyside with a goalless draw.

Which makes the second leg at the Emirates very painful…

Arsenal began with such zest and enthusiasm with Gabriel Martinelli giving Trent Alexander-Arnold hell on that wing, but bar a Lacazette free kick that clipped the post and went over, the home side offered nothing else in attack. Oh, there was that dinked pass from Sambi Lokonga to Lacazette, and he wasted the golden opportunity in the most Lacazette way possible. The wind was taken off Arsenal’s sails when Diogo Jota slalomed his way through the Arsenal defense and misfired a shot that somehow blindsided Ramsdale in goal. The Portuguese forward’s second finish on the night was more clinical, getting in behind the defense and lobbing it past the goalie to send Liverpool to the finals.

It was quite painful to see the Gunners work so hard at Anfield, only to put up a limp display in front of their own fans, but that’s football for you. The Carabao Cup remains one of the most exciting competitions in the land, as it always hands opportunities for new talents to be showcased, but Arsenal’s race was run at the semifinal stage, and one hopes the lads can go one better next season.


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