Escape From Alcaraz As Arsenal Slide Into Semi’s
Carling Cup Quarter Final
Arsenal 2 – 0 Wigan Athletic
1 – 0 Alcaraz (41 o.g.)
2 – 0 Bendtner 67
As Manchester United were humiliated at Upton Park, Arsenal barely stumbled into second gear in victory over an unambitious Wigan Athletic side which showed no sign of improving their dismal away form this season. In reaching this stage, Arsenal became the first team to reach fourteen League Cup semi-finals and with the remainder of the final quartet to be completed this evening, has perhaps the best chance to win the tournament for the first time during Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Arsenal were rarely in trouble during their ninth consecutive League Cup quarter-final and will believe that with the chances created, a more emphatic margin of victory should have been achieved.
Arsene rang the changes from the Premier League side with Emmanuel Eboue posting the biggest recovery since Lazarus having crumpled to the turf in Braga barely a week ago. His initial contributions were flamboyant, a fashion statement with white tights that would have caused envious glances from Keith Weller and promptly giving Wigan two openings in the first quarter of an hour, Moses finding the side-netting whilst Boselli should have done better with a wayward backpass from the Ivory Coast international.
Once the first fifteen minutes had been consumed, Arsenal started to exert a stranglehold on the game. Carlos Vela and Koscielny were denied breaking the deadlock, adding to Bendtner’s earlier miscued header.
The Mexican though was to be the author of his own misfortune in front of goal. As the half hour approached, Wilshere and van Persie combined with the Dutchman’s backheel finding Vela free in the penalty area. Having buried many such opportunities before, unsurprisingly Vela opted to lift the ball into the net only for it nudge wide on this occasion. It would be hard to decide who was more surprised by the miss; the crowd, Vela or Wigan. Before the interval, Arsenal’s standard Carling Cup front pair would both miss with presentable chances, Bendtner perhaps more culpable in this instance.
The breakthrough did come minutes before the half-time whistle. Walcott’s corner was missed by the Dane but not by Alcaraz, diverting the ball into his own net. All goals count and this one merely served to prove the point that Arsenal possess more threat from set-pieces; the delivery is very much improved this season.
The second half began as the first had ended; Arsenal very much in the ascendency, subdued by the weather but too good for the visitors. It took twenty minutes and more spurned opportunities before victory was sealed. Vela and Bendtner combined to good effect, the Mexican’s cross eventually met by a sliding Dane.
Walcott and Nasri both went close as the match drew to it’s conclusion, the England international missing the far post whilst the intervention of a Wigan defender on the line prevented the Frenchman from increasing the Arsenal tally.
Contentiously, Arsenal were denied two penalties from Martin Atkinson. Whilst the second is perhaps easier to understand – arguably the ball could have been to Figueroa’s arm – the first was baffling. It was immediately apparent that Figueroa had used his hand to prevent van Persie capitalising on an attack yet Atkinson failed to award a spot-kick when many of his peers would have had no hesitation. It is this type of inconsistency that drives supporters mad.
The biggest positive for Wenger though was the seventy minutes completed by Robin van Persie, the Dutchman was captain for the night and seemingly unscathed from his outing. The starting XI will only be stronger for his full return. van Persie was Man of the Match, the manner of the game entirely suited his rehabilitation, less harry and hassle than the Premier League.
Carlos Vela meanwhile is being criticised unfairly in some quarters for his misses last night. With 115 first team minutes played in the last two months, some expectations are too high. Players should be ready to come into the first team and play well – which Vela did last night, all things considered including the overall performance which I don’t think was anywhere near the levels that Arsenal can reach. The Mexican has a huge weight of expectation on him, built from the hype surrounding him as a teenager. His progress may not have been as he expected but his ability marks him out as a star of the game in the future. At 21, time is on his side. Patience is another matter.
The trials and tribulations of the preceding weeks are beginning to fade into the distance as consecutive wins bring the train back onto track. A big December awaits with the visit to Old Trafford and Chelsea coming to The Emirates, alongside a decisive European encounter with Partizan. The top three all have tough fixtures this month and two more consecutive wins will set these important weeks up nicely.
Posted on December 1, 2010, in Arsenal, Carling Cup, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Carling Cup, Football, Soccer, Wigan Athletic. Bookmark the permalink. 217 Comments.