It was a night to forget. There will only be a handful of Gooners that will cry over the Capital One Cup exit but it’s the fact we have lost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott that is the real disaster. Congratulations to the hosts, they deserved their victory and I wouldn’t mind if they win the competition.
Here are the key points from the game:
1.Injuries simply won’t go away.
Like losing Aaron Ramsey against Bayern wasn’t enough, we lost Oxlade-Chamberlain at the very beginning of the game. We had barely recovered from the shock of Chambo’s injury when his replacement Theo Walcott had to come off as well. Without them, our task to beat our jinx team Swansea at the weekend has become even more difficult.
Without Rambo, Chambo and Theo, the number of players who make runs behind defences is becoming shorter and shorter which means that the level of Mesut Özil’s performance might be lower than usual as a result.
2.Something is going wrong with our British core.
A brief look at our injury list would confirm something is going wrong with our British core. Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all out due to injuries. Kieran Gibbs and Calum Chambers are fit but we all know how many problems Gibbs has had during his career. So, what is wrong then? Why can’t our British players have an injury-free season? Is it down to their development at the very beginning or that they haven’t been managed well at Arsenal?
3.Mathieu Debuchy looks too rusty to be considered for a serious role.
The Frenchman has had an absolute stinker of a season so far and his performance against Sheffield was absolutely appalling. It’s unclear whether he even managed to crown it with an own goal or it was Hutchinson’s but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. With a European Championship in his native France waiting just behind the corner, one would expect a 30-year-old to fight for his place in the national team through his performances for Arsenal. In his rare outings this season, however, Debuchy looked out of depth and way below the level of Arsenal. That idiotic challenge from Marko Arnautović last season had been a huge set-back for him. Still, if he keeps under-performing, he might pip Pascal Cygan and Gervinho for the not-so-prestigious ‘Worst ex-Lille player to play for Arsenal’ award.
4.Kieran Gibbs doesn’t look good enough for the starting eleven either.
Gibbs hasn’t been on Debuchy’s level of under-performing but he hasn’t convinced anyone that Nacho Monreal should be benched in the forthcoming matches. He does look a bit lively going forward though so Wenger might try with Gibbs on the left so that Alexis can fill that enormous hole on our right wing.
5.Per Mertesacker and Calum Chambers are not the best combination ever.
Two central defenders without pace are not exactly the best combination as neither of them can effectively bring the ball forward and our midfielders have to come deep for the ball. However, the presence of Mertesacker and Chambers should have given us a stronger defence at set-pieces but we were found wanting.
6.Mathieu Flamini’s future lies in a more advanced position than a defensive midfielder.
Given all that we have seen from Flamini this season, I have a feeling that we could get something out of him in a more advanced role. The Frenchman, a hero from White Hart Lane in the previous round of Capital One Cup, didn’t impress as a defensive midfielder at Hillsborough. However, our best chance (Mertesacker’s header) was created by Flamini. His cameo against Everton was impressive in terms of Flamini’s ability to find himself in the right position in the final third. With all these injuries to our midfielders, perhaps the idea of Flamini as a surprising attacking asset isn’t as ridiculous as it looks. He has a strong shot with his right foot and has a really good understanding with our main creative force Mesut Özil off the pitch so…why not?
7.Arsene Wenger has a point about the youngsters but…
Even if Arsene Wenger is right that none of the youngsters look ready for first team football, I would like to say that Krystian Bielik looks the real deal. Yes, he didn’t exactly produce fireworks but he looks like he belongs on the pitch, like it’s the only place where he should be.
Alex Iwobi is also a very promising player. He didn’t get on a scoresheet after a perfect pass from Joel Campbell in injury time but I would like to see him getting more chances to shine.
8.The home team should have been reduced to ten men.
Iwobi was lucky to avoid injury after an idiotic challenge from Hutchinson. Our youngster could have picked a serious injury. The referee oddly didn’t see it as a red card offence.
9.Joel Campbell to finally take his chance?
The Costa Rican has failed to impress so far but given how many injuries we have and how great his work-rate is, we might see the real Campbell, one that can pass and score. We have seen a glimpse of that with a perfect pass for Iwobi – hopefully Campbell will grab this unexpected chance!
10.Of all defeats, those in the Capital One Cup hurt the least.
Yes, losing to a Championship side is never a good thing. Yes, losing 3:0 to anyone is not a good thing. However, of all competitions out there, the Capital One Cup is the most pointless and irrelevant. If English clubs had more desire to play in Europa League, then the Capital One Cup would make more sense. The only point of the competition for the Gunners is to see players like Bielik, Kamara, Iwobi and others in action.
Our next game is Swansea away. We have won there only once since their return to the Premiership and it was mostly down to an excellent performance from Serge Gnabry and Aaron Ramsey. Neither of those two will play for us on Saturday so we’ll have to find someone else to gun down The Swans. It will be difficult without Aaron, Theo and The Ox but we are the Arsenal!