Spurs 1 Arsenal 4
If nothing else, Spurs' abject performance yesterday should cement the reputation of the 2007 Carling Cup team. Before, it had often been said that people don't take the Carling Cup seriously. But when a fellow Champions League team is this outplayed when they chuck in a few kids, it shows how well that team did. Players like Justin Hoyte may have long since moved on, but any suggestion that the Arsenal academy is a failure (whether relative or absolute) should be dispelled by last night's match.
It was, after all, Henri Lansbury who scored the first goal. A kid who grew up in Enfield and who has been at Arsenal since he really was just a boy. As I quipped when it was 1-1, 'this had better not go to penalties because Arsenal have too many Englishman playing'.
Much though I couldn't care less about nationality, it was brilliant to see Jack Wilshere bossing the game. Despite being kicked repeatedly (the fact Spurs only got three bookings is unbelievable) he continued to act both as a holding midfielder, and as a playmaker. It really was a consummate all-round display.
A word, as well, about the line-ups. I find it thoroughly disingenuous to claim that Arsenal played a really strong team and Spurs just chucked in a load of kids. Only one of the back five would ordinarily start. Denilson, Wilshere, Lansbury and Vela are all squad players. I would admit I was surprised Nasri started considering Cesc's injury but Spurs played Palacios, Bassong and Assout-Ekotou - all regular starters for them. This was not a scratch Spurs side and it seems a terrible excuse for their failure to create anything.
Harry Redknapp was angling after the England job a couple of weeks ago and yet he couldn't coach his team to test Fabianski - their first 'proper' chance wasn't until extra time and then it was a real scramble for Arsenal to get it clear. If I were a Spud (and I thank God each night that I'm not) I would be livid. It's hardly tactical genius to test a crap goalkeeper. After an excellent result I don't want to lay into him, but he should have saved Robbie Keane's shot and looks like a man bereft of confidence. I may be one of the few people who still believes he can make it; but he needs to be sent out on loan to play 15 games in a row and try and build up his confidence.
The only other complaint about the match was that it went to extra time. It was reassuring to see the excellent fitness of the Arsenal players but I can't be the only person who would be really shocked to see Rosicky start on Saturday after playing two hours in mid-week.
But Arsenal were a little blameless that it went to extra-time. Okay, they were overplaying it at the end of normal time rather than just trying to score a goal. But it should never have been 1-1 at that point. Keane's goal was offside, Gibbs would almost certainly have made it 2-0 and though the ref was brave to give two penalties in extra time, his linesman had a generally poor game. Alas these things happen and whereas it cost us against Sunderland it didn't against Spurs.
And let's be honest, the extra time was a good thing. The reason we all felt so good today was that we could really mock the Spurs fans. There's nothing like shutting up the noisy neighbours and if we had won 2-1 in injury time they would still be uppity. As it is, after three goals in extra time, they have been firmly put in their place. Two penalties in five minutes was amusing but I enjoyed Arshavin's fourth the most.
In a competition in which Arsenal usually lose out because of youth and inexperience, it shows tremendous experience and footballing intelligence. It also hopefully shows that they are learning from errors such as against Villareal last year where the same happened in reverse.
And yet, despite finding the result hilarious and brilliant in equal measure, I still feel I have to have a little moan. I tweeted from the ground that I couldn't understand why Wenger/Rice hadn't changed it at all and apparently it's because Wenger's phone signal was awful. Now, while usually Wenger's excuses tend to be ridiculous, this is often the case at football grounds.
But why, therefore, did Pat Rice not change it. Is he really just the cone man? Can't he think for himself? I think it shows him as being overly deferential to Wenger. When Chamakh and Arshavin were introduced it clearly changed the game so why not do it sooner. On a night where Spurs were embarrassed, it also showed up Arsenal football club - tonight the United assistant manager just managed the team. I'm not saying we should aim for that but it's better than waiting for a text which takes 20 minutes to arrive. Anyway, it's just a thought.
Keep the faith,