Arsenal’s youngsters showed a great deal of maturity and composure in order to ensure that Arsenal progress to the next stage of the Capital One Cup. They were given the task of playing in a very difficult place for 120 minutes on a late night midweek game. Games are not necessary won on performances, and once again, Arsenal showed tonight that they can win ugly.
Unfortunately for me, I was not able to watch the whole match, and the time that I did spend watching the match, it involved a frustrating buffer along with an annoying gorilla on the sidebar. Not perfect conditions in which to enjoy watching a football match, but I will try and make some opinions over what I did see.
Arsenal started the match with a very much changed lineup to that against Stoke City on Saturday. Most of our starting XI did not even travel with the squad, although there was the slight exception: Mertesacker, Monreal, Arteta, Jenkinson, and Vermaelen being the only real first team players on the field. It was going to be a big task for these young gunners, especially considering that many of the players in the starting XI had received no game time at all this season, with Fabianski, Hayden, Eisfeld, Miyaichi (barely), Bellerin, Olsson, Viviano, Iwobi, Bendnter, and Akpom all suffering from lack of playing time. West Brom’s side was fairly strong and on paper looked the better team.
I didn’t happen to see any of the first half but from information I have gathered it was very uneventful. The second half showed a little bit more urgency from both sides, mainly coming from the home team, but both sides came out to win. Arsenal’s passing and link up play wasn’t of the highest quality, but that would be forgiven considering most of the players have never played with each other before. Arsenal opened the scoring on the night with Thomas Eisfeld grabbing the first goal. He finished very well having given the goalkeeper the eyes.
West Brom hit back rather quickly with a powerful header from Berahino. It was in all honesty a deserved goal for West Brom, and from then on it looked very likely that West Brom were going to be taking the lead sometime soon. Somehow, Arsenal’s two centrebacks stood strong and firm and dealt with every single cross that came into the box. So it went into extra time and eventually, penalties.
Penalties are always a lottery but there is always one team that seems like they have the upper hand going into the spot kicks. Considering Arsenal have a bunch of youngsters and it was at West Brom’s stadium, it seemed like Arsenal were all set for a defeat. However, the young guns showed real class and maturity by firing home all but one of their penalties. Gnabry was the unfortunate one who had his rather poor penalty saved. The final result made his Gnabry’s missed penalty less extenuating. It was Arsenal’s day, and although it wasn’t pretty, we have once again shown that winning ugly is sometimes necessary.
Now, Arsenal has the task of entertaining Chelsea at the Emirates in the next round of the cup!