Category Archives: Capital One Cup

Reading Preview: Time for the Fringe Players to Step Up

Image result for chamakh goal reading

Arsenal has been on an amazing run lately which culminated in 9 consecutive wins up until Saturday, when Middlesbrough pooped Arsene Wenger’s birthday party. In fairness to Boro, it wasn’t a stroll in the park for the Gunners as Petr Cech earned his pay with some excellent saves to keep the game at bay. On the other end of the pitch, Victor Valdes had a stormer and the scoreline was a reflection of the proceedings.

With the Premier League shoved to the corner for some EFL Cup action, Arsene Wenger is set to rest his first team starters, allowing the second string side to take center stage. The official site showed pictures of the players training and it was nice seeing Carl Jenkinson in action. For a player that has missed so much action after suffering that nasty knee injury while on loan at West Ham, it would be a proud moment for Corporal Jenks wearing the sacred Red and White again.

Arsenal Team News

There would be wholesale changes to the squad with Emiliano Martinez in goal for Petr Cech. David Ospina is the club’s Champions League goalkeeper and possibly the FA Cup goalie, so I don’t expect him to be the custodian in goal against Reading today. In defense, I expect to see the British triumvirate of Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs and the exciting Rob Holding playing alongside the fit-again Gabriel Paulista. These four players are badly in need of games and would be hoping the midfielders and attackers do their business to ensure they qualify for the next round.

In midfield, I believe we would see Mohamed Elneny in action but with Mesut Ozil, Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla set to be rested, we could see Jeff Reine-Adelaide and possibly Alex Iwobi in the creative midfield role. I would also expect the ‘forgotten’ Olivier Giroud to be flanked by Lucas Perez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Ox has been pushing hard for a starting berth and this would be offer another opportunity for the young Englishman to strut his stuff.

Arsenal Injury / Suspension News

Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck (knee), Santi Cazorla (Achilles tendon), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Granit Xhaka (suspension)

Arsenal Predicted Lineup

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Reading Team News

Arsenal’s opponents will not be pushovers and the recent draw with Boro would be a stark reminder of the team not to underrate any side. Jaap Stam’s side aren’t doing badly in the Skybet Championship, fresh off a 1-0 away win over Rotherham that has seen them languish in eighth place. Reading has featured in three EFL Cup rounds before the draws cast them against the Gunners. They had already dispatched Plymouth Argyle, Milton Keynes Dons and Brighton. The Gunners will have to be mindful of John Swift that is currently leading the scoring charts for the Royals with four goals.

Reading Injury / Suspension

Reading has a clean bill of health

Reading Predicted Lineup

Reading 4-3-3 football formation

Team Form

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: W W W W D
  • Last Result: Arsenal 0-0 Middlesbrough
  • Leading Goalscorer: Theo Walcott (8)

Reading

  • Last Five Games: L D D L W
  • Last Result: Rotherham United 0-1 Reading
  • Leading Goalscorer: John Swift (4)

Gooner Daily predicts a 4 – 1 win.

Sayonara.

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Lucas Perez Pops his Arsenal Goalscoring Cherry

Granit Xhaka

Nottingham Forest 0-4 Arsenal

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

With half an eye on the Chelsea game, it was expected for Arsene Wenger to make wholesale changes to the side and the squad he featured last night was a testament of current depth in the squad. Emi Martinez usurped David Ospina as the Capital One Cup goalie and he had Rob Holding and the fit-again Gabriel Paulista as the center back pairing. Kieran Gibbs captained the side but I was rather surprised to see Aishley Naitland-Miles as the right back, but those concerns were put to rest when I read that Matt Debuchy had some fitness issues. The midfield pairing of Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny was very solid with Jeff Reine-Adelaide playing the Ozil role. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Chuba Akpom flanked Lucas Perez.

If there was any game we needed Lucas to get into the scoring sheet, it was this game. A certain Olivier Giroud scored his first Arsenal goal in a League Cup fixture against Coventry and he has gone on to score 82 goals for the team. His niggling toe injury kept him out of the side so it was all on Perez to turn up with the goods as an expectant crowd watched.

While we were waiting for the attackers to open the scoring, Arsenal took the lead when Xhaka sent in a surface-to-goal piledriver with that hammer of a left foot. The astonishing part of the goal was the little back lift he required to smash in such a rocket. I’m pretty sure opposition defenses would close him down like Hell when he’s in the edge of their box.

With the Gunners breaking the deadlock, the game opened up and a neat ball to Akpom in behind the Forest defense saw the forward fouled by former Chelsea man, Michael Mancienne (good to know he’s off the ugly looking Rastafarian dreadlocks) and Perez stepped up to score his first Arsenal goal from 12 yards with a well taken spot kick. That goal must have given him a morale boost because he went on to score his second of the night with a brilliant solo effort. After receiving the ball on the edge of the box, Perez showed his pace and upper body strength to shove off a defender before using his neat dribbling skills to waltz past the goalie, Skopjovic, like he wasn’t there. With an open net in front of him and an opposition defender trying to scythe him down, he showed some composure to tuck the ball into the net to put the game beyond doubt.

Perez then scored from scorer to provider as he teed up the frustrating Ox that made it 4-0. A performance he can be very proud off.

Whether it puts him in contention for a start against Chelsea, I don’t know, but Perez has made a case of himself for his manager, and the headache of selection for the Chelsea game will be strictly Wenger’s business. Will he still stick to Alexis Sanchez up front against Chelsea or has the new boy showed him that he can be a force to be reckoned with?

On the night it was a great day in the office and we will wait for tonight’s results before knowing who Arsenal will face in the fourth round.

Till then, Sayonara.

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Arsenal Embarrassed by ‘Wednesday on a Tuesday Night

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Sheffield Wednesday 3 (Wallace 27′, Joao 40′, Hutchinson 51′) – Arsenal 0 

Match Report Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference (via Arsenal.com)

Before yesterday’s game, it was evident that Arsene Wenger was going to rest some of his key players ahead of the weekend’s clash against Swansea,

“We want the players who come in to the team to show they are able to make the squad successful, and do absolutely everything to help us win. That’s the job of a footballer. When you get the chance, you have to be ready.”

So it wasn’t a surprise when the gaffer fielded a squad that had a blend of youth and experience. The likes of Glen Kamara, Alex Iwobi and Calum Chambers provided the youthful exuberance to compliment the likes of Matt Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker and a host of other players that on paper would have been good enough to see out a second division team like Sheffield Wednesday.

As soon as the Gunners tried to hit the ground running, the gods of injury struck yet again. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a player that has had a shaky campaign thus far would have been hoping for a game like this to show what he’s made of. Sadly, he sat on the turf and the combination of Colin Lewin talking on his mic and Theo Walcott stripping for action clearly signified that the Ox’s time on the pitch was up. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Walcott had been on the pitch for barely 10 minutes before he suffered an injury as well, causing widespread panic across the Arsenal world. Losing Ox and Walcott with games against Swansea and Bayern Munich coming up didn’t go down well with Arsenal fans. On came a debutant, Ismael Bennacer.

To add insult to injury…literally, Sheffield Wednesday took the lead thanks to some shambolic defending from Matt Debuchy and Per Mertesacker. Debuchy was caught out of position on his flank before the fullback fed Ross Wallace on the edge of the box. A Laurent Koscielny or Gabriel Paulista would have anticipated the looming danger and would have attacked the ball, but Mertesacker in his awesomeness decided to watch as the midfielder sidefooted the ball around him and past a hapless Petr Cech whose view was clearly obstructed by the BFG. Just hilarious.

On the other end of the pitch, the Gunners were simply toothless. Olivier Giroud received little or no service, Joel Campbell ran all over the place like a headless chicken and made a nuisance of himself without any contribution on the final third, Alex Iwobi was busy showing off skills he probably inherited from his legendary uncle, Jay Jay Okocha and as you’d expect from untested 17-year-old, Bennacer was overwhelmed by the more experienced opposition players.

As if conceding one goal and playing so poorly wasn’t bad enough, the Gunners conceded a second goal in typical Arsenal fashion. Nobody closed down a Sheffield player from a corner and he simply lofted the ball into the danger area and it was headed home by Lucas Joao with Cech rooted to the spot yet again. It was really sad seeing the Czech goalie suffer the way he did with such a terrible defense in front him. Where is David Ospina to take the blame when you need him?

At the start of the second half, you would have expected the Gunners to at least put up a fight but the paucity of quality on the pitch was there for everyone to see. Debuchy and Gibbs offered absolutely nothing in attack with the French fullback unleashing his inner Sagna with his erratic crossing. I just don’t understand how he became this terrible in his defending. This is a player that was meant to be the ideal replacement for Sagna in the team before Hector Bellerin rightfully took his place. I was also embarrassed by Mathieu Flamini that was overran by an industrious Sheffield midfield. It was when Wenger brought on Kryztian Bielik that there was some assurance in midfield. The youngster always wanted the ball and tried to make some meaningful passes.

With the Gunners failing to take the initiative, Sheffield put the nail in the team’s coffin when a winger drilled a cross that missed three Arsenal defenders, yes, Mertesacker, Chambers and Debuchy, before Hutchinson poked the ball in to make it 3-0 to the home side. The ref did the Gunners a favor by blowing his whistle. Arsene Wenger didn’t look too happy in his post-match press conference and I’m sure he was more concerned about the fitness of Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain than the overall result,

“The injuries are two muscular injuries (Walcott – calf, Ox – hamstring) and the injury damage I do not know. You have to wait 48 hours for the scans to see how big the damage is.”

While it’s quite a disappointment seeing the Gunners crash out early from the Capital One Cup, I am deeply concerned with the performances of Kieran Gibbs and Matt Debuchy in particular, that are meant to be the back up players for Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin.

You wouldn’t expect Monreal and Bellerin to play every game till the season ends but in the five games Debuchy has started this season, Arsenal has lost three and he has massively underperformed in all the games. He is a far cry from the solid player the Gunners signed from Newcastle and while we may attribute his bad patch to his long-term injuries and lack of match fitness, I certainly hope he shows some improvement as the season progresses because Wenger needs to play with players he can trust. On the back of Carl Jenkinson’s outings in West Ham, Debuchy’s Arsenal career might be reaching its climax sooner rather than later.

Well we need to move on from this disappointment.

Sayonara.

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