1) This match broke the record for the most goals in a single match in the League Cup. Reading are also joint holders of the same accolade in the Premier League, losing 7-4 to Portsmouth a few seasons ago. Arsenal have now scored 13 goals in only 2 League Cup matches. We only managed 1 more than that in 2010/11, when we went all the way to the final.
2) This was exactly what Arsenal needed ahead of our trip to Old Trafford. We fought hard and eventually showed the “mental strength” that Wenger always goes on about. The big question is where that strength was in the first half. Hopefully the players will really feel that they can get a result against United on Saturday.
3) Arsenal’s first half performance (at least until the 44th minute) was an absolute travesty. We defended narrowly and gave Reading way too much time on the ball. We did not close them down properly and allowed the Royals to put in plenty of crosses from wide positions. What I still don’t quite understand is how we got from 4-0 down in half an hour to the totally different performance that we saw in the second half.
4) This was a match that Damien Martinez will surely want to forget; he was less than convincing for much of the game. However, it is worth pointing out that he is only 20 years old and was playing only his second first-team game. I am sure that he will have learnt a lot from this match (maybe he will watch a few videos with the goalkeeping coach?) and it will not happen again. Luckily, we didn’t lose.
5) Like with Arsenal, we saw the best and the worst of Laurent Koscielny. The referee was rather lenient, otherwise I am sure that Laurent would have got his second yellow. He really was riding his luck. His is passion for scoring own goals is hardly pleasing, and Jason Roberts did cause him a fair few problems, but he made up for it with a late goal and a great block right at the death.
6) Olivier Giroud’s introduction made all the difference. Giroud didn’t start to begin with because Wenger wanted to give Chamakh a chance to prove his worth, but the Frenchman came on and scored with his first touch from a corner. He was a constant threat, got his head on anything, made good runs, took some nice long-shots and was at the centre of most of the chances that we created.
7) Maroune Chamakh emerged as an unlikely hero. Maroune was all but absent in the first half, but suddenly came to life at the end of the game and may just have bought himself a bit of time at the club and ingratiated himself with the fans. It was an opportunity to build some confidence and show us what he is capable of, and he did just that. I don’t know where he has suddenly learnt how to finish. Although he did not quite manage to get his Chamakhtrick, he did slot home calmly and then chip Adam Federici from 25 yards out in the final minute. There was even a little evidence to suggest that Giroud and Chamakh could play together in a 4-4-2 formation. Just a thought.
8) Theo Walcott may or may not have scored his second Arsenal hattrick. I doubt that his third goal/Jenkinson’s first for the club will go to a dubious goal pannel because the assistant referee did not flag that the ball was over the line. If that is the case, then the goal belongs to Carl. Either way, Walcott’s performance was fantastic. He was a bit quiet in the first half (as was everyone…), but he got there in the end with a cool and composed finish just before half time. It was exactly what the doctor ordered just before the break.
9) Andrey Arshavin kept his head down and never give up, even though it looked like nothing was going his way. In the end, our Little Russian had the last laugh. He suddenly came to life late on in the game, made some great runs, created space and width, and ultimately provided the cross for the winning goal.
10) Giroud & Coquelin need to read the rules about the League Cup. I am not sure whether they thought that we had earned a replay, or if they thought that we won on away goals, but they decided to throw their shirts into the crowd at full time and looked pretty stupid when they had to ask for them back.
11) Some Arsenal fans left early and missed everything. If the Newcastle match two years ago taught us anything, it is that even the most unlikely of comebacks are possible. I can understand their frustration, but people walked out before the end of the first half. Credit must go to the majority of the away supporters who stayed to watch the whole game. The team relies on our support and it was only a small number of idiots who left early.
12) Thomas Eisfeld and Jernade Meade made their Arsenal debuts. Having impressed on the pre-season tour of Asia and this season for the U21s, Eisfeld was given his chance to show that he can cope with the pressure of first-team football. He was fantastic to watch and added that little spark to the game that we needed; his introduction was just as positive as that of Giroud. His passing is superb. Meade was not on for that long (he came on to replace the injured Ignasi Miquel), but he did a pretty good job in his short cameo.
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