Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Out gunned

Arsenal 2 - 0 Newcastle Utd

Perhaps inevitably, given that we had played a game just two days earlier, we ran out of steam in last night's match, and Arsenal's youngsters were able to count on their superior fitness to knock us out of this season's Carling Cup. However, to simply criticise whichever idiot forced us to play the two games so close together does a major disservice to the Arse, who were much the better side for large portions of this game - only for our defensive organisation, and some quality goalkeeping by Shay Given, to keep us within touch.

With Viduka, Owen and Cacapa absent through injury, Allardyce chose to restore Martins, Ameobi and Taylor to the starting line-up, with Shola operating down the left hand side of a five man midfield. Unfortunately, despite our superior numbers, we were never able to control that area of play, and consequently our attempts to stifle Arsenal failed.

Martins did moderately well up front on his own, although his inability to once again find the net having rounded the keeper (this time his scuffed shot was cleared off the line by Senderos) is starting to prove a cause for concern, and he could have scored a couple of times from decent chances. However, with his shooting boots once again left at home, we lacked a real cutting edge up front, and it was depressingly inevitable when Arsenal finally broke the deadlock with Bendtner heading home Traore cross, and then Denilson adding a second with a strong shot from the edge of the area. By then, though, our legs had gone, and with them any chance of pulling ourselves back into the match.

Looking ahead to the weekend's game with Man City, it was pleasing to see Jose Enrique get a full game under his belt, and his inclusion should allow the Zog to provide us with an outlet on the left. Whether Allardyce chooses to employ two wingers away from home is however, doubtful - given his naturally conservative approach in away games. What is clear is that Martins is now looking like a man in need of a goal to reignite his season, and with Owen looking like he'll be missing for the next few weeks, he should get a run of games to re-establish himself in the side. Whether he grasps that opportunity we'll have to wait and see, but if he doesn't we could find ourselves struggling.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

For an Arsenal fan's view of the game: Arseblog, East Lower


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