28th October 2015: Mishmash Arsenal take night off at Hillsborough. Oh well
Welcome back. So we went to Wednesday on Tuesday and were comprehensively beaten 3-0 to end Arsene Wenger’s hopes of a first-ever League Cup for another campaign.
I’ll be honest, as much as I hate seeing Arsenal lose against anyone, in any competition, at any time, I was struggling to give much of a f*ck at full-time last night.
Not because I think the competition is not worth winning, because all trophies are in my opinion, particularly one we haven’t lifted since, funnily enough, beating Sheffield Wednesday 22 years ago.
But because our current priorities are the Premier League and Champions League and the fact most of our best emerging talents are out on loan and we have several first-team players out injured means we have to be sensible with our selection at the moment.
I’m fairly certain that if everyone was fit, we’d have seen the likes of Mikel Arteta, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky playing last night and I’d wager it would have been a very different game with a very different end result.
But everyone isn’t fit of course, and so I think Arsene had no option but to blood academy players such as Glen Kamara and Alex Iwobi last night, even if he had to admit after the game that the youngsters were not ready for this level.
I actually thought Arsene’s assessment was a little harsh on Iwobi, but spot on in terms of Kamara. As for poor young Ismael Bennacer, he looks about 12 years old, and when he was thrust into action as a substitute for Theo Walcott after just 20 minutes, played like he was 12 years old. A bit like Iwobi however, I thought Krystian Bielik, the fourth and final Arsenal debutant on the night, didn’t look out of his depth.
All that said, the match may have turned out very differently, even with a patched up side containing very inexperienced players, had we not suffered a double injury blow at the start of the game. First, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain felt a tightness in his hamstring with just four minutes played and was taken off as a precaution with Walcott, who had no time to warm up, replacing him.
That lack of preparation time for Theo proved disastrous as he felt something in his calf and was forced off himself to be replaced by Bennacer. The hosts went on to score three times, aided and abetted by what I can only describe as quarter-arsed defending by Arsenal. It wasn’t so much that we defended badly I felt, but that we just didn’t defend.
On their first goal for example, Per Mertesacker didn’t attempt to block the shot even though he was perfectly positioned and could have executed it in his sleep and for their third goal, having seen an unmarked opponent loitering in space at the back post, Per simply ignored the potential threat.
I know people are quick to say ‘well done’ to lower-league sides achieving giant killings but at the same time I think we should’t be patronizing. This was no Wrexham. It was a decent Championship team beating an Arsenal XI comprising of toddlers and first-teamers who didn’t even try to disguise their lack of appetite for the game. Anyway, well done to Sheffield Wednesday for beating us and I wish them the best of luck for the rest of the competition. I really mean it.
The biggest concern from the night for us however wasn’t elimination, it was the loss of two players to injury. The fact they were both candidates to cover for the injured Aaron Ramsey on the right obviously makes it worse because the only options we have, if they both fail to recover by Saturday for the game at Swansea, would appear to be Joel Campbell, or playing another player out of position.
Yet there’s little point in speculating what Arsene would do until the extent of the injuries to Walcott and the Ox are known and hopefully we’ll get a positive update from the boss tomorrow.
See you then.