Category Archives: Capital One Cup

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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Liverpool 5-5 Arsenal: Gunners Implode Against Make Shift Merseyside Outfit

Image result for martinelli liverpool

Match Report Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference (via

If you were a neutral fan, you might have enjoyed the great football on display from two fearless sides that had nothing to lose really. Jurgen Klopp made his intentions known with the lineup he fielded – loads of unknowns with only Divock Origi, James Milner, Naby Keita and ex-Gunner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being the only reputable names. In all fairness, the Gunners had a better squad on paper and these are lads that have played together in the previous rounds of the Carabao Cup as well as the Europa League group stages.

However, the Gunners started the game on the back foot when Neco Williams cross was deflected into his own goal by Skhodran Mustafi. The German has been a much maligned figure and was shown the door this summer but he has somewhat revamped himself playing alongside Rob Holding this season, so conceding an own goal brought the ghosts back and fans were having a field day on it. The Gunners didn’t allow that setback deter them as they waltzed forward with some good attacking play. The away side got their reward when Mesut Ozil showed some great composure to tee up Bukayo Saka but the winger’s shot was very tame.

Luckily Caoimhin Kelleher had a bit of the Flappyhandski Syndrome which allowed the ball to get into Lucas Torreira’s path and the diminutive Uruguayan tucked the ball home. Replays showed that Torreira was offside but with no VAR, Arsenal got away scot free. Just five minutes after the restart, the Gunners went 2-1 up following some good work from Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the right hand side with the Brazilian predator, Gabriel Martinelli, smashing the ball in from point blank range. That was his sixth goal in seven starts for the Gunners and I must say, he has been a gem of a player. Martinelli doubled his money when Ozil and Saka latched onto a defensive error from Williams before Saka provided a cut back that was blasted home by Martinelli.

As if we hasn’t seen anything from such a topsy-turvy game, a little bit of karma was on show when the youngest player on the pitch, Harvey Elliot, conned the ref with a nice dive when Martinelli stuck out a foot in the penalty box. Milner wasn’t going to miss and he sent Emi Martinez the wrong way to make it 3-2 just before the break. Milner then had a moment to forget early in the second half when his back pass to his goalie was anticipated by Maitland-Niles but the ball was about to leave the pitch when Ozil showed great presence of mind to tuck it back into play which allowed AMN blast the ball home.

4-2 and everything was looking good but with Arsenal, you just can’t tell. With the ball at the edge of the Arsenal box, Maitland-Niles showed his lack of concentration that allowed the Ox to nick the ball off him and smash in a piledriver that offered a glimmer of hope to the home side. 4-3 became 4-4 minutes later when Origi received the ball from Jones, who was gifted by Torreira, shimmied past his marker and fired a shot that Martinez palmed into the net. I expected the goalie to catch that but hey, that’s football. Emery decided to take off Ozil for Matteo Guendouzi much to the surprise of the Arsenal faithful but he confirmed after the game that it was agreed between both parties that Ozil would play for a specific amount of time.

As if we hadn’t seen enough madness for one night, Joe Willock, that had been somewhat peripheral all game burst into life and blasted a rocket of a shot that breezed past Kelleher to make it 5-4. It was clear that both sides weren’t ready to defend, so Emery obliged us by taking out Torreira for Dani Ceballos, which was another tactical move that got me confused. The fact that we had no more protection in front of the defense wasn’t bad enough, but Ceballos went on to have a stinker and lost the decisive penalty that saw his team eliminated. It wouldn’t have gotten to that if the Gunners just did their jobs and defended, which makes me loathe the final moments of the game that saw Liverpool get yet another equalizer. Saka for the life of me saw Williams on the byline and watched him as he floated a cross into the area. Guendouzi misjudged the flight of the ball and it crept above him before reaching Origi’s foot. Mustafi just stood still and also blocked his goalkeeper and with Martinez blindsided, the only outcome was a goal.

Sadly, it seems that Arsenal doesn’t do any goalkeeping training on penalties, as Martinez offered nothing from the spot kicks and the Gunners lost the contest via the lotteries of penalties. There are some positives we can latch onto like Ozil’s quality that was always glaring from the start, which makes the decision not to play him really stupid. Then there were the Gabriel Martinelli goals (seven goals in eight starts) that are hugely encouraging. I really wanted the Gunners to go all the way in this competition because it offered a good breeding ground for Martinelli and the other youngsters, so with the team eliminated, they will need to stick to just the Europa League for consistent game time, or maybe the FA Cup from January. However, we can’t shy away from the negatives – defending has been such a problem for the team this season and it was on show yet again against a weakened Liverpool side. Emery needs to sort this mess out as we are going to play more games in the course of the season and the defense will be under scrutiny.

All plans will move to the game against Wolves and that’s one we need to win as we are drifting away from the Champions League places.


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5-Star Youngsters Outclass Nottingham Forest

Image result for martinelli goal nottingham

As expected for any Carabao Cup fixture, Arsenal gaffer, Unai Emery, made wholesale changes to the team that struggled to grab all three points against Aston Villa. Our current longest serving player, Emi Martinez, deputized in place of Bernd Leno as you’d expect, while the forgotten Skhodran Mustafi featured alongside the returning Rob Holding. Calum Chambers retained his place at right back while there was a debut for Kieran Tierney. Gooners had been longing to see the player that made us turn Nacho Monreal into a forgotten memory and boy, it was worth the wait. Out-of-favor Lucas Torreira played in midfield alongside Joe Willock with captain of the night, Mesut Ozil, spearheading the midfield. The three-pronged attack saw Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith-Rowe flank the young Brazilian, Gabriel Martinelli.

The Gunners hit the ground running early on with some superb play and got the goal their game deserved when Chambers’ first timed cross was guided home by Martinelli who scored his first Arsenal goal in his first start for the club. A confidence booster for a young lad that went on to have a stormer. The Gunners were in total control of the game and kept Nottingham at bay but the first half ended with a slender goal lead, with the visitors run ragged all over the place.

There was a four-goal salvo in the second half for the home side with stand-in captain, Holding, rising the highest to nod a corner home to make it two goals to the good. The crowd showed their excitement when Hector Bellerin took to the pitch to replace the impressive Tierney and the Spaniard wasted no time in threading a neat assist to Joe Willock for the Gunners’ third after a neat pass from Mustafi. Nelson got in on the act after reacting well to Chambers’ cut back to make it four then Martinelli put the icing on a well-baked cake with a curling effort to make it 5-0.

All in all, it was a wonderful game of football to watch and these young lads showed that they are ready to stake claims for first team football and with performances like that, you can only help but wonder when they will be given more chances. Thankfully, competitions like the Carabao Cup and Europa League group stages will be a good platform for these lads to strut their stuff while the more experienced folks will do their thing in the Premier League. On the down side, there was an injury sustained by Smith-Rowe following a clash of heads with a Nottingham defender and he required to be stretched out of the pitch to be replaced by another exciting winger, Bukayo Saka.

Emery would have been very satisfied with the performance of these lads and at least, it shows that we have good depth in the club.


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