Full marks to Leyton Orient for pulling of an incredible draw. They reached the semifinals of the FA Cup in 1968 only to be beaten by Arsenal 3-0. To chants of ‘You’ve got Cesc Fabregas and we’ve got great pies and mash” their fans were having a good time savouring a rare big moment.
History looked to be on Arsenal’s side as Tomas Rosicky ended his goal drought turning Nicklas Bendtner’s lofted cross adroitly past Jamie Jones in the 53rd minute
The stage was set for Russell Slade to introduce Jonathan Tehoue with a recently acquired super sub reputation. He lived up to it. The Frenchman chested down a pass, burst between Kieran Gibbsi and Ignasi Miguel, leaving the latter on his butt with a deft move and lashed the ball past a hopelessly out of position Manuel Almunia in the 88th minute. Brisbane Road was rocking. Chariman Barry Hearns promised the players a Las Vegas holiday and then some.
Arsenal were Barcelona to Arsenal. And look how that turned out for them. 72% ball possession with 801 passes attempted and an 87% completion rate. But as proven Wednesday, the only thing that matters is the scoreline. As Crawley Town demonstrated against Man Utd, the smaller clubs have shown a never say die attitude and are not overawed by the big occasion.
With a punishing schedule ahead of the club Wenger sent in his second team which included 18 year old Ignasi Miguel making his senior debut. He also sent in Almunia who on hindsight should have been the one left on the bench. Marouane Chamakh is reportedly suffering from exhaustion and put in another enervated display. His vaunted aerial prowess seems to have deserted him.
After his promising start he and Thomas Vermaelen (through injury) have not been factors in Arsenal’s season. Not a ringing endorsement of Wenger’s recent buys. He also sent in Almunia who on hindsight should have been the one left on the bench. One would have thought that Wojciech Scecszny would have gained more from this experience. There were no substitutions as Wenger calculated the match was sealed and any change was unnecessary.
On the bench he had his pick of Fabregas, Nasri, and Wilshere. Given the horrors of Arsenal’s four goal implosion against Newcastle, the prospect of Orient making a late strike was not out of the question. An insurance goal would have been helpful.
A tactical blindspot which is increasingly obvious.
“We’ve left it until the last minute and once again Arsene has been out-thought by a better brain.”
If Wenger was looking for respite, he did not get it from this match.
“The most negative side of our result today is one more fixture and in fairness that is not what we needed.”
Arsenal fans are resigned to their club being laterally inclined.