In an Arsenal game which went directly to script, the Gunners saw off Championship side Reading in the fourth round of the English Football League Cup. With the exception of one or two very clever Martinez saves, the North Londoners cruised to a 2-0 victory and continued their fine form. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s sharpness, the youthful promise of players such as Maitland-Niles, Reine-Adelaide and Willock, along with the creativity of Iwobi, the second string XI looked confident in attack. Rob Holding, Gabriel, Gibbs and Martinez all made their expected cameos and the return of Carl Jenkinson all came together in a more-than-not stable defensive line. With two for the Ox and Giroud looking to fight for his place again, here are the four things we learned:
1. A Good Mix of Experience and Youth
In a competition where rotation is almost a requirement, the players on the fringes of the first-team had the chance to get some valuable minutes under their belts. Though normally a very cohesive unit, this Arsenal side was fielded with only two regular first-team contenders in Iwobi and Elneny with Gabriel and Gibbs making up for experience in defence. It was thanks to these players that the lesser picked youngsters had the freedom to roam, as well as have the leeway to make some errors. Gabriel did very well to martial the back line with Gibbs, giving Rob Holding and Carl Jenkinson the necessary calmness. Elneny steadily controlled the midfield with interceptions and tackles, while Iwobi looked to be the creative force with every chance he got, allowing the prospective youth players space and chances to stake their claim for first-team promotion.
2. Struggling Lucas
Arriving as the eventual striker signing the fans had been yearning for, Perez has had problems fitting into the system and settling into England. Amassing 17 goals in La Liga last season, the Spanish left winger/central striker has seen little game time for the Gunners but has spent most of it in the League Cup.
It seems Lucas is an incredibly one-footed player and is struggling for confidence. Opposition defences have already picked up on this and adjusted accordingly to force the player into uncomfortable situations. This was clear to see when Perez attempted to square the ball after he himself was clear on goal with the ball on his right foot. A confident striker would’ve opened up his body to slot the ball in but instead he didn’t. Perez seems lacking of confidence and unsure of his palce in the team.
3. Chamberlain Enigma
The Ox has been on the fringes of the first-team since Theo Walcott’s return to form form earlier this season but has found it difficult to sustain any consistent run of form. Tonight, the young pacey forward showed another mixed performance from losing defensive focus, to scoring a couple of beautifully crafted goals, to a steady run of stray passes and easy giveaways.
Wenger was clearly experimenting with Alex’s positioning, as we saw the player appearing on the right, the left and even playing centrally. A steady run of form is hard for any player to get in the Arsenal team at the moment, and Oxlade-Chamberlain has once again made it difficult for himself to do just that. The promise and talent is there, all that’s missing is the maturity to bring these qualities together on a more regular basis.
4. Could Giroud Make a Difference?
Giroud saw 20 promising minutes on his long-awaited return to the Arsenal side. The tall and powerful Frenchman made himself a nuisance from the moment he got onto the pitch with his physical dominance, good hold-up play and cleverly picked passes. With Giroud in the side, the Gunners have an alternative option and the ability to feed long ball to the centre forward as well as showing aerial dominance from crosses and corners. Had it not been for the lightning reflexes from Al-Habsi, Giroud would have marked his return with a wonderful headed goal. The persistence is there, and may well see the Frenchman fighting for the number nine spot very soon.
Share the post "Four things we learned: Arsenal 2-0 Reading"