Friday, 29 October 2010

The Carling cup is the new 'cool'. Newcastle match report.

Newcastle 0 Arsenal 4

Cool has never really come into football. Obviously it's not cool to like Joey Barton or Ashley Cole. But then who would like Barton or Cashley?

But, the Carling Cup has brought the pursuit of cool into football. It's like the old quandary for the schoolboy – how little work can I do and still get away with it? Except for a long time, the question has been 'how weak a team can we field and still win in the Carling Cup'? Wenger almost managed it in 2007 but was denied by Drogba.

And yet, according to the media, this year the Carling cup has changed. Now it's about bringing something retro back into fashion – like men wearing cardigans or buying Gola bags.

To be honest, this is rubbish. It just makes a good story, gives the media a different angle to report from.

Against Newcastle, Arsenal made nine changes from the weekend – the two players left were Djourou and Denilson. Now I'm Denilson's biggest champion but nobody would call either of those players first-choice.

The relative strength of the Arsenal line-up was merely indicative of the good squad-depth we have, as well as that we have players coming back from injury who needed game-time.

Although we started well, the game was far too open – for all the chances we created, Newcastle also had their opportunities – whilst Wojciech (I'm not going to attempt to spell his surname...) did well at the end, we were lucky not to concede early on when he came out.

The early stages were also memorable for Gibbs' unfortunate injury. I just want to put it on the record that to class Gibbs as injury-prone is ridiculous: his injury last year was the result of a ridiculous challenge by the Liege player; the injury he picked up at Tottenham also came from a bad tackle. In fact, the only innocuous injury he's picked up was against Newcastle. And the good news is, it may only keep him out for a couple of weeks.

What the injury did do though, was allow Emmanuel Eboue to demonstrate his positional versatility. Having a utility man like Eboue is definitely useful for a team which is always struggling with injuries. And as this video shows, the man's a legend.

While the opening goal had a touch of comedy about it, few would have questioned that Arsenal deserved to lead at the break. Aside from anything else, we were playing a team containing Alan Smith and Joey Barton – they don't exactly garner sympathy from me easily.

The second goal came as the result of some cynical play by Nicky B. I don't doubt Walcott would have finished anyway which is why it annoys me – enveloping the club in unnecessary controversy is a really bad idea.

He did redeem himself with a great goal himself and then Theo proved what I've been saying for ages: he's not a terrible player, he just needs to play on the shoulder of the last defender to utilise his pace to the maximum. As Gunnerblog says, Wenger needs to tell Walcott to play like this all the time.

All in all a good result, and when you're in the quarter finals of any cup competition, you have to try and win it. Time will tell whether Wenger actually wants to win it – it's lazy journalism to say he does on the basis of the City game.

It's West Ham this weekend and while you'd think it should be three points, this time in October has not been kind to us in recent years.

Hopefully that will change tomorrow.

Keep the faith.

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