After a dismal defensive performance against Blackburn at the weekend, Arsenal went a little way to bouncing back from the embarrassing defeat by progressing through to the fourth round of the Carling Cup by, in the end, comfortably defeating a competitive Shrewsbury side 3-1.
As usual, Wenger put out a young team that included first competitive starts for Chu-Young Park and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Others who found themselves with a rare competitive start were Coquelin, Miquel, Fabianski and Chamakh. The new look line-up also came with a new-look formation as the gunner’s adopted the old 4-4-2 formation.
It seemed as though it would be more of the same porous defending after Shrewsbury headed home a goal on the 17 minute mark and were dominant in the first half hour of the match, even though the back-line was a completely different. But Arsenal were resilient and finally found their way after Kieran Gibbs levelled the tie just after the half hour mark, with the home team dominating after the break.
Arsenal’s assertion on the match after the break showed as the hosts created a number of chances to score. The breakthrough finally came through when young prodigy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired a ripping shot low from 25-yards out just before the hour mark, fizzing underneath Shrewsbury keeper Smith who wasn’t fast enough to drop down.
After the goal, the young Arsenal team seemed more relaxed on the ball passing it around with confidence with Shrewsbury only looking to equalise on the break. The young gunner’s team sealed the win 11 minutes from time as substitute Oguzhan Ozyakup cut back a ball from the goal-line for experienced new signing Benayoun to slot home from close distance.
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on getting the win against a decent side…
“It was a bit nervy because we played against a good side. I said before the game that the lower divisions have improved in the last five years and you could see that. They were direct but not without technique. They had a direct game but they played it with intelligence and efficiency. They had a few dangerous situations in the first half, even after they scored. So 1-1 was not too bad for us at half time and in the second half we took over, they dropped physically and we played in one half after that.”
on whether Shrewsbury ‘dominated’ the first half…
“I’m not sure they dominated the first half, if you look at the numbers again you will see they didn’t dominate the game. They created dangerous situations. It’s always difficult to beat a football team, no matter what division they play in. They knocked Swansea and Derby out and you can see why. They are top of their league.”
on whether some of his players are playing with fear…
“We played a young team with a mixture of young players and experienced players. We took a gamble and it worked because you could see some players, who we haven’t seen so much of like Oxlade-Chamberlain and Coquelin, have done extremely well and that is positive for the future.”
on Oxlade-Chamberlain and Coquelin’s performances…
“Oxlade-Chamberlain grew through the game and became stronger and stronger. In the first half he was a bit timid and suddenly he grew in stature in the second half. It was unbelievable. What came out, you didn’t expect it after the first half. He became stronger and stronger.”
on whether he has staked a claim for a place in the first team…
“You could see that he will be a first-team player here, that is for sure. He still has things to work on but, very quickly, he will be knocking on the door.”
On Ryo’s performance…
“He did well when he came on. My regret tonight is that he didn’t play long enough to show what he is capable of doing. He will get more opportunities.”
Jenkinson Miquel Djourou(c) Gibbs
Chamberlain Coquelin Frimpong Benayoun
Lucas Fabianski | 6.0: It was a standard performance from the Pole as he had relatively little to do and was not at fault for the opening goal. Although wasn’t convincing when he allowed the ball to hit the far-post early on.
Carl Jenkinson | 6.0: Was very good in attack, providing dangerous crosses, including the cross for the equaliser, and always provided an attacking option. Although in contrast on defence he was at times suspect.
Johan Djourou | 5.0: Was largely at fault for the opening goal as Collins ghosted in on his blind-side to head from close range. Was poor defensively early on but improved in the second half.
Ignasi Miquel | 7.0: The Spandiard was easily the best defender on the night, making vital challenges and looking comfortable on the ball.
Kieran Gibbs | 6.5: Had some poor crosses and defensive lapses but otherwise had a good performance. His header for the equaliser was well directed and powerful.
Francis Coquelin | 7.5: It was an impressive game from the midfielder, being efficient in the transition from defence to attack and utilising his wide range of vision and passing.
Yossi Benayoun | 6.5: He struggled as Shrewsbury asserted their dominance in the opening half of the match, but managed to impose himself on the match more as Arsenal began to control proceedings in the second. A smart finish for the final goal
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain | 8.5: Definitely worth of man of the match as the young Englishman upped the pace in the second half, running rings around defenders at will and always looked threatening. His shot for the second goal was menacing.
Emmanuel Frimpong | 6.5: The Ghanaian had a solid performance in midfield winning much of the ball with his physical presence alone. Also produced some shots from distance to test the Shrewsbury goalkeeper Smith.
Chu-Young Park | 5.5: Showed he has great technical ability, but was anonymous at times in the match. Was close to putting the home team in front with a great bending effort that went just wide.
Marouane Chamakh | 5.0: The Moroccan looked very dangerous in the opening exchanges, but faded badly as the match went on. His sub-standard run continues I am afraid to say.
- Notable Substitutions
Ryo Miyaichi | 6.5: Only got 20 minutes on the pitch, but showed his immense technical ability and skill. Looks as though he may stake more of a place in the first-team later in the year.
Oguzhan Ozyakup | N/A: Notable as he provided the assist for Benayoun late in the game. Other than that he had little time to impose himself on the match.