Arsenal Analysis – Returning stars impressive in Carling Cup win


Krul (O.G) 45, Walcott 53, 88 Bendtner 83

Arsenal progressed to the quarter final of the Carling Cup despite resting many of its best performers from recent weeks. In the absence of Samir Nasri, Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh, Arsene Wenger rotated his squad and used the game as another opportunity to restore match sharpness to players who are working their way back from injury.

Whilst many of the rested contingent are expected to return against West Ham on Saturday, the performances of Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner- who climbed off the bench to score for a second time in four days- may be merited with a starting place. Johan Djourou is benefiting from a settled run in the Arsenal defence and that stability is beginning to reflect in his performances. Although the Swiss defender was one of the more experienced in the Arsenal side, this game threw two different challenges at him in the forms of the rapid Nile Ranger and targetman Andy Carroll, and he dealt with both adequately. Alongside Djourou, Laurent Koscielny gave his manager a boost in an area where the Gunners lack sufficient depth by coming through 90 minutes unscathed.

Behind the central defensive pair, Wojciech Szczesny was granted his second start for the club and his involvement in the game increased as Newcastle abandoned their tactical shape in the search for what ultimately would have been a consolation. Nevertheless, the youngster stood up to the challenge, producing decent saves and portraying tenacity to maintain a clean sheet. The pace of Walcott was a constant threat throughout. Up against Tamas Kadar, it was evident that the winger smelt blood in the opening exchanges and repeatedly run at- and then beat- his man. However, all too often Walcott’s Achilles’ heel is his end product, and that was the case in the first half. Having got past Kadar time and again, he was forced too close to the byline by backtracking Newcastle defenders. And although he failed to pick out a cross, Walcott’s speed emerged as the factor that could turn the game in the Gunners’ favour.

Moments after half-time and this was the case, albeit with an off-the-ball assist from Bendtner. After Tim Krul’s unfortunate own goal, Arsenal rode their luck once more as a clearing defensive header met Krul’s clearing kick. Lurking with intent, Walcott raced beyond his marker, latching on to the loose ball and lifted it over Krul to double their advantage. Yet in between Walcott gathering possession of the ball and the ball being dispatched into the net, a careless Bendtner wandered back from an offside position and collided with the Newcastle defender scrambling back to prevent Walcott reaching the penalty area. It cued uproar from the Tyneside faithful claiming the Danish striker had fouled their man, but more importantly, it deflated a home side that had matched Arsenal for the most part. Walcott’s second arrived in similar fashion as Newcastle had thrown men forward and this time he fired low to beat Krul and round off the win.

Starting XI

53 Szczesny

27 Eboue – 20 Djourou – 6 Koscielny – 28 Gibbs

15 Denilson – 40 Eastmond – 7 Rosicky

14 Walcott – 52 Bendtner – 11 Vela

19- 3 Sagna on for 28 Gibbs
70- 4 Fabregas on for 11 Vela
84- 41 Emmanuel-Thomas on for 52 Bendtner

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