Arsenal vs Coventry
The FA Cup
Kick off: January 24, 2014 7:45 PM GMT
Before the match began, Arsene Wenger named six changes to the side that triumphed over Fulham. Not really unexpected, but there were a few notable formation changes, particularly young Oxlade-Chamberlain who got a chance to shine in the middle of the park alongside Wilshere and Ozil. Bendtner also got the chance to impress being selected in the sole striker’s role allowing Giroud to rest ahead of tough fixtures on the horizon.
As is the standard approach with these types of games it was important that the Gunners came out and imposed themselves early on and they did that to great effect. The midfield trio linked up beautifully while Coventry sat back and tried to soak up the pressure. Arsenal were relentless in their approach and it was inevitable the deadlock would be broken after numerous waves of attack, which included a good chance that fell to Podolski.
On the quarter hour mark, Arsenal would find themselves in front when Wilshere picked up the ball in midfield and passed it to Mesut Ozil. The German laid it off perfectly to an on-rushing Podolski who rounded the keeper and tucked away the ball for his first goal of the tie. Coventry reacted well with Baker weaving his way from half-way all the way to the Arsenal box, but fortunately his shot was matched by Fabianski who tipped it over.
It didn’t take long for Arsenal to re-assert their dominance, this time from a set piece on the half-hour mark. There was nothing flashy this time when Gnabry crossed in from a corner to the near post. Mertesacker flicked on the the far post where Podolski was on hand to head in a typical poachers goal. From then on until half-time it was all Arsenal. There were chances to extend the lead, but any Gooner would be happy with what was a strong first-half performance.
Unfortunately after the interval, it would be Coventry who would be on the front foot for large periods. Arsenal seemed content with their 2-0 lead and dropped in intensity, which resulted in some glorious chances for the visiting team. The first came five minutes into the second half where Clarke beat the offside trap to be one-on-one with the keeper. Fortunately the striker stayed relatively wide of goal, which allowed Fabianski to save relatively easily.
Their second chance came in the 57th minute when Oxlade-Chamberlain lost possession deep in his own half. Moussa then ran towards to box squaring the ball to in-form striker Clarke, but luckily his side-foot strike rattled off the outer side of the upright. It could have been 2-2 at this stage, but it seems luck was on the Gunners side today.
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The Sky Blues didn’t give up however and kept pushing for a goal, but Arsenal finally killed off the tie late on through substitute Giroud. Gibbs received a through-ball from Cazorla and put in a low cross towards the Frenchman. Giroud made no mistake with the finish. It went from bad to worse for City when Jenkinson, making his umpteenth run down the flank, fired off a shot that was parried directly to substitute Cazorla. The little Spaniard made no mistake to slam it home and give Arsenal a comfortable looking 4-0 victory. Overall, not a complete performance, but certainly enough to ensure progression.
on a job well done…
Yes. Coventry did well but we did [our job] well, especially in the first half. In the second half we dropped a little bit the pace in our game. In the last 20 minutes it became all us again because they were tired. But Coventry did fight and they had some chances at the beginning of the second half because they had a real go. Some of our players dropped a little bit because they haven’t played for a long time.
on Podolski’s prolific scoring…
Podolski can score goals and when you have a goal chance you want him to have it. He is a clinical finisher and he has an unbelievable short and quick backlift. He is very accurate in his finishing. He can be effective, he can score goals when he starts and when he comes on, he is always dangerous. His performances have been more convincing on the flank than in the middle until now.
I liked what he did tonight in the centre, especially when we had the ball. Defensively he worked hard but I liked especially offensively him and Jack together, they could be a good partnership in the future for England as well.
on Gedion Zelalem’s debut…
It was a good opportunity to give him a chance to play and he showed when he came on that he is not scared, not fazed by the occasion. He wants the ball and you feel there is some vision and personality behind his pass.
on Gedion being the first Arsenal player born after Wenger became manager…
That is more damaging for me than for him!
on Mourinho’s claim that Arsenal get favourable fixtures…
Look, you choose over Christmas the fixtures and you tell me who had the best fixtures! We played on Sunday against Everton, on Wednesday in Naples and on Saturday morning at Man City, so we have not the same assessment on that front. I can accept that we have different opinions. Everybody is free in life to have their opinion.
on whether Mata joining Man United harms Arsenal…
No, not really. If we have a [title] chance it is down to our performances and only about that, and that is what we have to focus on. I was asked a question, I gave an honest answer. I am still naive enough to believe that sometimes people are more interested in the ideas than about creating conflict. But no, it is an illusion.
on Ju-Young Park…
I had Giroud on the bench and Flamini was not available so I decided to go for Gedion Zelalem. He [Park] is not injured. No [there have been no bids for him].
on Julian Draxler rumours…
That again is an illusion. There is nothing happening, honestly no. We have no need on the flanks, we have Chamberlain coming back, we have many players on the flanks. Honestly, I told you in the last press conference, we don’t rule it out but at the moment I cannot announce anything to you.
Jenkinson Mertesacker(c) Koscielny Gibbs
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