I missed my very first game of the new season last night on a night Giroud broke that stubborn metal duck of his while the team over-ran Coventry 6-1 in the 3rd round of the Capital One cup. I wasn't alone in missing the game as the game was not televised in my neck of the woods or anywhere else for that matter it seems and Gooners from all over the world could only follow via live commentaries on the net, gamecasts and twitter updates.
For a competition that has largely been considered as low priority, it's amazing how much demand there was in Goonerland for updates and the excitement was palpable as news filtered through on Twitter that Arsenal had gone a goal up in the 39th minute from no other than Olivier Giroud. While Gooners around the world were happy that we were one goal up, we were even happier that it had come from the handsome Frenchman. That one goal many have touted that he needs to unlock the flood-gate of goals in him has finally arrived. The opportunity came sooner he expected to add to his tally in the form of a penalty but it wasn't to be -his well hit penalty was saved by the Coventry keeper so we have to wait a while longer to see how much water is behind the flood-gates.
As promised Wenger lined out a mixture of youth and experience on the night and they delivered in style. The starting eleven comprised of Martinez, Santos, Djourou, Angha, Miquel, Walcott, Ox, Coquelin, Arshavin, Yennaris and Giroud. On the bench were Shea, Squillaci, Bellerin, Frimpong, Eisfeld, Gnabry and Chamakh.
Nico Yennaris was a mascot when Coventry last visited Arsenal in 2000 but lined out with the team this time -twelve years later- as an Arsenal player and contributed two assists on the night. Now that's one for the history books.
A goal each from Arshavin, The Ox, Miquel and a brace from Theo in addition to Giroud's killed the tie off with Coventry's Callum Ball pulling one back while the score was at 4-0.
The Ox's goal was an absolute screamer from outside the eighteen yard and seems to be the pick of the bunch.
Arshavin had a good night out playing the support striker role and won a penalty, got a goal and an assist to show for it. Wenger admitted after the game that Arshavin does look his best in this position instead of on the wings were he has largely been used for the past couple of years,
“Arshavin’s best position looks to be behind the striker now because that’s where his vision, the creative side of his game, can be very efficient. When he has to work on the flank it is sometimes working against him because he has to work too hard up and down. But when he’s central he always had an influence on the game.”The competition for places in the midfield right now does not favour the Russian but at least he will get a chance to prove that he isn't washed out yet and I'm one person who believes in the abilities of the little Russian. The quality in the side right now may be the spur he's been needing to raise his game.
Theo Walcott was deployed to the wings as usual for the game but he surely made a case for his demand to be played as a center forward as he bagged a brace with two beautiful finishes. Wenger had kind words for him afterwards,
"I'm not against it, I'm not against it at all but we try and at the moment there is big competition up front, we have a different formula and the team is doing well,
'His time will come for that and at the moment we have to be a bit patient. He is a great finisher now, in front of goal he is really absolutely amazing.'Emmanuel Frimpong made his return to the game from the injury he sustained in February while on loan at Wolves. He got a run out in the last twenty minutes and you could see what the return means to him as he took to Twitter to thank the fans for the reception he got when he came on.
'We want him to stay, I always said exactly the same. We are all professional and I always said that lets hope we can extend his deal and that is part of every professional situation. I speak to Theo of course, we are always in touch with them (his agent) and you have to give us some time to try and sort that out.'
"It feels good to be back after so much hard work in the gym, and I'm just pleased to be playing football again.
"I'm a footballer, all I want to do is get out there and help my team, whether I am fit enough to play or fit enough to be in the squad. I just want to be out there with the lads and helping Arsenal progress.
"The crowd's reaction makes me feel good obviously and shows that the fans appreciate me here. That is always a nice gesture and I am just happy that I went on to help the team win the game."The fourth round draws were held shortly afterwards and it's Reading away for us. It's an away game but still a relatively easier tie than Chelsea Vs United who will be squaring off in the fourth round. We really should be beating Reading wherever it is we meet them. Personally, I'm happy to avoid those two at this stage. The other draws are:
Sunderland v Middlesbrough
Swindon Town v Aston Villa
Wigan Athletic v Bradford City
Leeds United v Southampton
Norwich City v Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool v Swansea City
Chelsea v Manchester United
Reading v Arsenal
All fixtures will be played from October 29th.
Before I go, some team news: word filtering through is that Wilshere will be making his long awaited comeback next Monday against West Brom's Under-21s. Vermaleen is fit again and available for selection when we face Chelsea on Saturday. Sagna is back in full training but isn't available for selection just yet and Rosicky is about a week away from making his return. We surely are getting deeper, Gunners.
Got to go now but will be back tomorrow. As always, tell your side of the story below in the comments section. It is always appreciated.
Update: Match highlights are available on Arsenal Player and it's free.