Bendt it like Bendtner

Image courtesy Wonker

In his post-match interview Arsene Wenger revealed that he had a very difficult time picking his team up after the defeat on Sunday to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final. You would be forgiven if you didn’t believe him when you saw the 5-0 lashing that Arsenal doled out to Leyton Orient last night in the FA Cup.

One of the truths about this Arsenal side is that they can be wildly inconsistent and yesterday was no different. Having been beaten 2-1 on the precipice of cup glory to a team that they thrashed twice in the Premier League, Arsenal bounced back, answered prayers, and scored a fiver while keeping a clean sheet.

It was an impressive victory not just for the score but also for the fact that Arsene was forced to make 10 changes from the starting lineup against Birmingham due to injury and rotation with just Thomas Rosicky getting the nod in both games. The lineup also included two reserve team players in Connor Henderson and Ignasi Miquel with the former getting his first team debut and the latter reprising his role from the first leg.

The changes didn’t affect Arsenal though as they play their game the same no matter who the new cogs are in their machine. On their immaculately manicured home pitch Arsenal reached record levels for passing with OptaJoe reporting that both teams combined for 1254, 140 more passes than when Arsenal played Barcelona. The passing was so slick that Diaby was reportedly 100% perfect in his 70 minute cameo, completing all 69 of his attempts.

But for all their slick passing, Arsenal didn’t take nearly as many shots as they normally do only having 8 total where they average 20 shots per game at home. Of course, shots don’t matter if you don’t make them count and whereas they had 11 shots on goal in the Carling Cup final and scored just once, Arsenal had 5 shots on goal against Leyton Orient and scored 5 times. For much of the game Arsenal were content to simply pass the ball around and wait for their chances but when those chances came they took them with aplomb.

It always helps Arsenal when they get an early goal as it forces their opponents to come out and play a bit. Every team now sits back and tries to destroy Arsenal’s pretty game while waiting for the moment that their huge lump of a player can score off a header. If Arsenal can score first, they will usually ruin that plan as we saw when Chamakh opened the scoring in the 7th minute off a wonderfully placed pass from Thomas Rosicky. Many people complain about Arsenal’s lack of directness and claim that Arsenal have no one who will attack balls in the box but that is exactly what Arsene Wenger brought Marouane Chamakh in to do. He’s struggled a bit with form after November but getting on the score sheet today will hopefully give him confidence going into the next two weeks.

Bendtner is another player who divides opinion but both of his goals in the first half were quintessentially Nicklas Bendtner. The first came off a Gibbs cross as the Dane simply out muscled his marker to the ball to win a looping header that was unstoppable.

The second goal is becoming something of a trade mark as well as he dribbles to his right and rather than going for power as is customary for most strikers outside the box, goes instead for placement. His curled shot was the type of audacious attempt than only the Great Dane himself could dream up.

In defense, the freshman Miquel did well again and along with Squillaci managed to stifle Leyton’s attack. There were a few moments where Arsenal looked to be opened up, most coming when former number one Manuel Almunia showed the type of judgment that has seen him dropped in favor of 20 year old Wojciech Szczesny. Almunia seemed incapable of making up his mind at times, allowing Leyton to get their heads on the end of a few delicious corners. When he did decide to come out the result was nearly disastrous. Moments before half time, Almunia went chasing out after the ball and the Orient player’s curling shot went past his flapping hand only to be cleared off the line by Squillaci. One wonders how the game could have changed if that glaring error let Orient back into the game.

But it Orient didn’t get back into the game and 17 minutes into the second half, Nicklas Bendtner score the third of his hat trick that put the score well and truly out of sight. It was Bendtner’s second hat trick in a year and sees the Dane in a bit of good form at the perfect time with hree goals and two assists in his last five games.

Clichy would add the fifth, a daisy cutter off a broken play, and nab his second goal in his Arsenal career.

Arsenal are two weeks away from a two week international break and enter a period where they will play Sunderland in the Premier League, Barcelona in the Champions League, and Manchester United in the FA Cup. Meanwhile, iInjuries are rocking the team right now with six first team players out — Cesc, Robin, Theo, Song, Koz, and Vermaelen.

Cesc is being managed on a “day to day” basis according to the manager and could return to fitness in time to face Barcelona. Theo is certainly out for that match though he might be back for Man U — if I were to guess I’d say he’ll be back in April after the International break. Song and Kozzer’s injuries are reportedly minor and should both be back for the vital clash against Sunderland. And Vermaelen has been out all season so we can’t expect much from him either.

The one that has Arsenal supporters really down is the injury to Robin van Persie. Arsene revealed that it’s a tear to the ligaments in the back of his knee caused when he hyperextended the knee scoring the equalizer on Sunday. Three weeks is the minimum he will be out and again since there’s a International break until April I would say four. That said, I’ve torn those ligaments before and I would say four weeks is highly optimistic. I’m not a doctor nor have I seen the scans but ligaments don’t heal the same way as other injuries and more often than not any tear requires surgery. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his season is done.

That makes the goals from Chamakh and Bendtner all that much more important. Arsenal are pushing on three fronts still and will have a serious test on all three of those fronts in the next two weeks. If they have the character they could come through with all three cups still alive. If not, we could be looking at another early end of the season.

Quick rundown of the blogs this weekend, I have some thoughts on the idea that the grass is always greener when it comes to English center halves, I have an idea that I won’t publish here or one of the 600 other bloggers who read this will steal it, there will  Match preview late tomorrow (after work), and then on Saturday after the game Chary will be doing his man at the match report.

It’s a crucial weekend for Arsenal and every time I’ve come back from England that has been the case. Also every time I’ve come back from England they have fallen flat. Let’s hope this week is different, for once.

22 thoughts on “Bendt it like Bendtner

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Akash

    Henderson had a decent game yesterday. The way he asks for the ball I thought was very Van Persie-esque..
    I was surprised to see Denilson chase down a few lose balls. Maybe, it is confidence after all.

    I think this team is in the last stage of the transition of becoming a great team. The only thing we lack now is consistency (Not mental strength, not graft, not technique nor a soft belly like most commentators will claim).

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1Patrick

    Did Wenger find his impact player off the bench yesterday? How does this sound against Barca? At the 60 minute mark, bring off a tiring Arshavin, bring on Gibbs to play left back, and push Clichy forward to run at Barca.

    Clichy’s the impact player in the absence of Walcott. Not so crazy, eh?

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1London Calling & Overseas

        @Kevin Sweeney, He has speed like Theo so don’t dismss the idea. Surprise the opposition I say. Mourinho did things like that at Chelsea all the time. A centre half as a centre forward, Robert Huth anyone. Yes he did

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1HR

    We’ve got Ramsey back now and he’s fully fit, so he’s an option in this injury stricken time

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1Giorgio Curioso

    Arsenal won a game 5-0 since you came back from England, so the curse is already broken.

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1Giorgio Curioso

    Arsenal won a game 5-0 since you came back from England, so the curse is already broken.

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Let me praise the B team since I’ve come here on many occasion to bury them.

    Will Bendtner need a ball boy to help him carry his head around now?

    If Rooney was serving a 3 match ban that “nothing” elbow to the head of the Wigan player, he wouldn’t have been on the pitch to trip over Luiz’s leg. Can you appreciate irony SAF? Now lets get your ass fined and banned for 4 matches (including the 2 suspended for his Alan Wiley rant).

    Mommy, when I grow I want to be a Scottish football player. You know your sport is in trouble when it gives politicians the chance to display moral indignation.

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1London Calling & Overseas

    The Scottish Premier League has always had politics at its core; it’s almost endemic when it’s in reference to the Old Firm games (Celtic v Rangers). There has been incidents whereby a sorrowful mother lost her son through murder because he wore a Rangers shirt in a Celtic part of town, or a time when Gazza, whilst playing for Rangers taunted the Celtic players by mimicking playing a flute (symbolic of the flute-playing of Orange Order marchers), which almost caused a riot.

    The Old Firm rivalry has fuelled many physical assaults and many deaths and it would not be surprising to hear that last night the hospital emergency unit numbers were noticeably increased.

    Therefore moral indignation from UK Politian’s re last night handbag event is small fry, compared to what has gone before. However, the tackles during the game was pretty hard and leg breaking. Phew.

    Our very own Bartley (on loan to Rangers)was in the mix I see and hear…. he is getting primed and ready to deal with provocation in the future when we play Birmingham, and Stoke if they remain in the EPL

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1London Calling & Overseas

    Hello everyone: There is talk started by the Tuesday Club that no team has won the EPL without an English Centre Forward. And everyone is banging on about the Man U treble.

    Just to be clear Gary Neville was and still not a Centre Forward and Denis Irwin was Irish. I have a relatively good memory and I remember Man U winning the league with a “non English great defender” with the lovely name of Jaap Stam, a tall balding and excellent player. Sir Alex sold him to Lazio because he let his massive ego got in the way. Why! Stam wrote a book which challenged Sir Alex dressing room credibility etc. Stam spent three seasons at Manchester United, and won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the converted UEFA Champions League. NOT TOO SHABBY ON THE OLD CV.

    Who were his side kick from during the treble winning season:
    Peter Schmeichel: Foreigner
    Gary Neville: Alien British
    Denis Irwin: Irish
    David May: Who remembers him: Four appearances only?
    Ronny Johnsen: Foreigner
    Jaap Stam: Definite Foreigner

    I am writing this because Kosser, Thomas V and Johan D will be great defenders for the Arsenal, and I liked each of them on first viewing. But that’s my personal opinion.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1Notoverthehill

    LC+O! It is NOT politics that infuses the Celtic v Rangers games. Itis simply religion. At one time, 50 years ago, when certain firms OR RANGERS would not employ a Catholic. Celtic on the other hand, went on football ability. Scottish Labour MPs (West of Scotland Labour Mafia) always make sure that they are back in town on a week-end, to watch The Bhoys. “Whisky Nose” Ferguson was ex-Rangers and of course a Govan Gofer in the most inefficient shipyard in the world. It is very much a cost-plus yard dependent on Ministry of Defence contracts. This is where Ferguson was weaned on using the rules to bend, obstruct, cheat and con the working force and management into submission.
    Kyle Bartley is learning that if one cannot reach the ball, use a rugger tackle to bring the opponent down!!! Why does Walter Smith employ redundant and not-up-to-the-job ex EPL players?
    Arsenal will have a savvy player or obtain an over the top transfer fee for Bartley!

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1DF

    I see that the Sunderland game is more important than the Barca, as it will put pressure on Manutd, and hopefully cause an implosion like Chelsea’s.

    Liverpool must get points to stay in 6th of the table. They won’t overtake Spurs unless the latter implodes, which can not be ruled out. I will bet the Spuds to lose at Wolves on Sunday. However, in case the FA Cup final features 2 champion league teams, like Mancity vs Arsenal, then the 6th team can play in the Europa league. That is all Liverpool can ask for. I do hope that they beat Utd, a team with no CB in this game. Suarez may have a field day.

    However, if we cannot break down Sunderland, then no more can be said. It would be a confidence sapping result to take to Camp Nou.

    Come on Boys!

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1DF

    I am sorry I don’t rate Miquel as highly as some of you. He has not been under pressure in these two games against Orient. However, I have seen quite a few incidents when an O players got past him with a bit of explosive pace from outside into the penalty box , witness the Tehoue goal in the last game, and in one incident towards the end of the 5-0 game.
    That would be a deadly weakness for a centre half.
    He can play the ball, surely, this Miquel, and reads the game quite well, even covering Squillaci.
    But can he head the ball? I don’t know.
    He seems a bit too genteel, not able to instil any “fear” factor, nor any “I wont let you get past me” factor in his play. Look at David Luiz! He may be rash, as Keown said, but he can be intimidating!

    I hope to see Bartley play for the second string team in preseason.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1London Calling & Overseas

      @DF,The boy Miquel is a boy learning his trade, David Luiz is 23 and play for the national team. You really must calm down DF. Terry Henry was rubbish when he started playing for Arsenal and look what he became…. Robert Pires was woeful, he used to run from tackles, and often scared of the EPL strong play, look what he became…. Give the boy a chance. Lol

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1DF

        @London Calling & Overseas, I am not writing him off; but I don’t think he is ready yet. Of course he needs time to grow, like Song et al. Compare him to Smalling who is 1-2 yr older, he is better in distributing the ball, but worse in defence. I really hope Miquel makes it because we need defenders.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1MyDearArsenal

      @7amkickoff “Arsenal only having 8 total where they average 20 shots per game at home” #Chamakh FACTOR ?

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Toure got suspended for taking a banned substance. Probably something in a supplement.

    The announcing partner to Martin Tyler was a right old ass. Typical anti-Arsenal rant belittling the seriousness of the Rosicky injury which no one including the announcer saw. Only when Rosicky is being helped off the field and clearly looking dazed does the announcer reluctantly back off his criticism.

  13. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    “Cyber bullying”. McLeish finds a new phrase. Isn’t he a clever lad that Mcleish? He should now look up the definition and realize that Wilshere’s factual twitter comment about an unnamed BC player patting Koscienly on the head is not cyber bullying. McLeish don’t expose us to your ignorance.

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