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Leyton Orient 1-1 Arsenal : Yay, replay!

Football is a funny old game. One minute you’re beating Barcelona and in the throes of joy, the next you concede a late equaliser to a lower league team in the cup and back comes the despair and misery.

Almunia Orient

Ok, maybe not despair and misery, not here at least. There are those that like to have a good wallow and that’s how considerate this Arsenal team are. First they give them a great night like on Wednesday, then give them yesterday so they can slag off all the players and the manager. There aren’t many teams that would be that obliging.

It looks looks like a bit of that David Blaine magic rubbed off on us yesterday and we now have a replay we probably didn’t need, but there you go. That’s football. I only got to see the first half so can only comment on that.

I think the word is ‘meh’. Not exactly an enthralling cup tie by any means. Arsenal had most of the ball but did very little with it from an attacking point of view. Orient defended well enough, got men behind the ball and we lacked the bit of cleverness needed to open them up. When we did, and Gibbs cross found Chamakh six yards out and unmarked, the Moroccan should have scored. Instead he made a total hash of it and put it wide.

At the back debutant Ignasi Miquel (not Mee-gwell, Jon Champion, you poxbottle) looked fairly calm and assured. And, erm, beyond that there’s not a great deal I can say about the performance. Not a great deal caught the eye.

I had 5Live for the second half, fading in and out on the old MW as I was driving the car, and I caught commentary of Rosicky’s goal. I had a feeling he’d score and it seems many people took me for some kind of soothsayer and plonked a few quid on him to do just that. If only I had followed my own vague betting advice I’d be ever so slightly less poor this morning. The Czech’s first goal since he was a teenager came via a header from beyond the penalty spot, set up by Bendtner. Imagine the odds you could have got on that?

It seems that the manager wanted that team to go on and finish the job off. No substitutions were made. Arshavin hit the post. And then, late on, Jonathan Tehoue tricked his way through Gibbs and Miquel and fired a shot between Almunia’s legs to make it 1-1. They get a replay at the Grove which will cash them up and fair play to them.

It adds one more game to our already hectic schedule but that’s hardly the end of the world, is it? Another chance to see this glorious second string huff and puff is something we should all look forward to. Afterwards Arsene said:

Overall it is a disappointment, but we are still in the competition and will now play at home. The most negative side of our result today is one more fixture and in fairness that is not what we needed. We have had problems in the cups against teams from the lower divisions to finish them off, but also we have given a lot. Sometimes, mentally, a breather would not be bad.

The one thing you could say about our FA Cup run this season is that we’ve shown remarkable consistency. We made hard work of two lower league teams in the previous two rounds and did the very same again yesterday. I expect us to go through at home and while a replay isn’t ideal it really isn’t a disaster. This is what happens in football. And not just to Arsenal either, although we’re kinda good at this sort of thing.

As I tiptoe my way around the toys that have been chucked from prams one thing is clear though – there’s a definite and obvious gulf between our ‘first’ XI and those on the outside of that. As I said yesterday it’s a lot to expect players who don’t play regularly to come in and perform at a very high level. However, it’s not too much to expect that a team full of internationals and experienced players might be a bit better than they were against Orient.

What’s most apparent is the lack of urgency. In the first half we had most of the ball but seemed content to just have it, rather than doing anything particularly positive with it. That’s something we could work on and these lads need only look back at Barcelona on Wednesday last to realise that having more of the ball doesn’t guarantee anything.

Anyway, if we’re going to win this FA Cup we’re going to do it the hard way. A 3rd round replay, a win with 10 men over Huddersfield, now another replay against Orient, and then, should we win that, we’ll go to Old Trafford to play United in the quarter-finals. Quite the run of games but there you go. I’m fairly sanguine about the whole thing, really. I’ve seen much, much worse from us in the cup down the years, and from teams who really should have done better, so I’ll await the replay and take it from there.

In the meantime we’ll turn our attention to the Stoke game on Wednesday because that’s now the most important thing. There’s plenty of time to preview that and I’ll do so in the days ahead.

Speaking of which, there was a competition for two tickets that game which appeared briefly on the site on Friday. Of those of you who caught it in time the RNG has selected Simon Jelbart. I’ll be in touch with you regarding collection etc. To the rest, better luck next time, more competitions on the way.

Finally, my thanks to GilbertoSilver from Gunnerblog for his second half commentary in the live blog. It might have been 5Live style but there was no irritating, fat, Northern Irish Liverpool fan anywhere near it.

And just while I’m on the subject – ESPN are now employing Robbie Savage? I just don’t get it. Surely there must be some ex-footballers out there who can a) speak English properly b) don’t sound like a banshee sucking a helium cock and c) who know a little bit about the game of football.

How has Robbie fucking Savage, of all people, become so ubiquitous? I have made a point, as much as possible, of avoiding any pre-match waffle because the standard of analysis and previewing is just so low. The departure of Richard Keys from Sky means I’m more likely to tune in to them again from time to time, but Ray Stubbs sitting at a pitch-side picnic table with Robbie Savage? I mean really.

Yesterday they also had Steve McManaman on and with him and Savage squeaking away it was like listening to Aled Jones violating a Water Sheringham. Enough. Give us people who can speak properly and intelligently and who don’t have voices that would make you jam knitting needles in your ears.

ESPN = d’oh . Any other suggestions? Just realised my suggestion was entirely incorrect due to Savagesque mangling of the English language. Oh well. ‘Extremely shite people narrating’ – I like, via @JackyBanner. Some good ones in today’s Arses too.

Right, that’ll be that. Have yourselves a good Monday.

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Fan of Arsenal, Robert Pires and most everything to do with rum and whiskey. Writer, podcaster, ace flintknapper, sluggish centre-half. Smiter of those that ought to be smote.