Well that was just what the doctor ordered. Pre-game it was Dr Kevorkian. Afterwards it was very much a case of “Hi, Dr Nick!”
As expected there were lots of changes, only Rosicky remained from Sunday, and there was a debut for young Irish international Conor Henderson, known in the club for his big feet. It didn’t take long to break the deadlock. Rosicky drove into the box, pulled it back for Marouane Chamakh who sidefooted home his first goal since November. Just the start we needed.
We dominated possession but that didn’t stop Orient causing a few early problems. As Eboue stopped to gaze in awe at all the people gazing in awe at him, our opponents used the space he should have been in to fire in a decent cross to the near post. The forward’s effort was off target but the Orient fans up the far end thought it was in and went “Yaaaaayyyyyyaaaahhhhweknewitwasntin … shut up”.
In the absence of Robin van Persie it was interesting, in so far as that goes, to wonder which of Chamakh or Bendtner the manager would pick for the central role in the games ahead. Chamakh made a good start with his goal but he’s very much a finsher, a player you want on the end of moves. When asked to do anything a bit creative he seems to struggle. So, it was nice to see Bentdner step it up.
First he rose well to head home a Gibbs cross. It was an excellent header as the cross had all the pace of a goalkeeper running through treacle. Then, after a typically Nicky miscontrol on the edge of the box, he got the ball back, cut inside from our left, shifted it across the box and made just enough space to curl one into the far corner. Not too dissimilar from his goal against Ipswich and for me that’s why he’s ahead of Chamakh – the range of goals he scores is just much better. Plus I still think opponents think ‘Ahh, it’s only Bendtner, he’ll never score from ther – oh bollocks’.
3-0 at half-time was game over really. There was no chance of a Newcastle style collapse. Bendtner made it 4-0 with a penalty after Gibbs had been tripped in the box and the manager, having decided he was now the number 1 striker, hauled him off to protect his asset. There was still time for one more goal. Gael Clichy has played eleventy hundred and fifty seven and a half times for us and his only goal was a scabby effort against Stoke in a game we lost.
So it was quite a surprise to see him get onto the end of a cross which had fizzed it’s way across the box and then smack it home first time into the bottom corner. And if I was surprised so was he. He hadn’t the first clue what to do to celebrate this momentous occasion, instead he stood rigid, stunned like a rabbit in the headlights, until someone came over and told him this was all right, this was a good thing.
And so it ended, 5-0 to the Arsenal, a decent response to Sunday and a professional job done well. Afterwards Arsene said:
It was important that we had a response tonight after what happened over the weekend. We did it in a professional way, we were always focused.
And on the strikers finding the net:
We have lost Van Persie so for Bendtner and Chamakh to score is very important, they now have a level of confidence that we need to be successful in the big games. You need your strikers to take any chance and tonight Bendtner did that very well.
I know some folk will say it’s ‘only’ Orient but frankly I don’t understand that. Yes, we need him to do it in the bigger games to come but you can’t criticise when he does it at all. I think that’s his second Arsenal hat-trick and he now has 8 goals for the season. It was also good to see Chamakh get on the scoresheet. His efforts in the first half of the season shouldn’t be forgotten, he carried the can, and after a long gap without a goal that’ll boost his confidence.
Beyond that there was a solid, if unespectacular, debut for Conor Henderon. The young midfielder looks to have good delivery with his left foot (don’t worry, we can coach that out of him) and another decent display at the back for young Spaniard Ignasi Miquel. Don’t undersestimate the importance of the clean sheet or the fact that the ‘second string’ clicked at last.
It sets up a 6th round tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford but that’s a game we can put on the back burner for now. One thing that was noticeable, and commendable, was the way Orient tried to play last night when they had the ball. The hoofs out of defence were few and far between, they successfully passed their way out of trouble a few times and it’s rare you see that, so fair play. I’m sure they’ll enjoy their trip to Vegas.
Now we have to turn our attention to the Premier League again and Sunderland on Saturday. After United’s defeat in midweek we have a chance to cut the gap to just one point. More on that in the days ahead.
Meanwhile, Cesc updated us on his injury via the match programme last night, saying:
I am running, getting better and don’t sense any pain. We’ll see how the next few days go. Perhaps I’ll have a chance for Saturday.
It would be timely, that’s for sure, but with Barcelona coming up I suspect they’ll give it just that few extra days to really make sure. Again something we can cover in the coming days. The manager explained a bit more about Robin van Persie’s injury too (check the link above). He has a small ligament tear at the back of his knee which could take 3-4 weeks to heal. He misses the Camp Nou for the second year running but hopefully the boys can do the job and give him a big stage to come back to.
You can check out highlights, goals and post-match interviews from last night on the Arsenal Video page. The Bendtner/Eboue interview is quite funny, Nick’s face a picture at times.
And that’s about that for this morning. Back tomorrow with the Arsecast and whatever else crops up between now and then.