Arsenal continued their run in the FA Cup with a 2-0 win over non-League Sutton. Here are the highlights.
First we were treated to the usual “he works as a part time teacher” lines whenever a player’s name was mentioned. I find this to be patronizing. For example, no one ever mentions that Theo Walcott works as a part time children’s author or that Alexis Sanchez is a full time Dogfather.
We were also treated to the endearing sight of Craig Eastmond. You probably should remember Eastmond for his one and only Champions League match, a 2-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk. He scored an own goal. He was taken off in the 59th minute for Carlos Vela. That was in 2010. Arsenal were just so bad in the Champions League that year. Oh man, that was such a bad team. Here was the starting lineup:
27 Eboue yellow card
40 Eastmond (Vela 59)
14 Walcott (Emmanuel-Thomas 82)
52 Bendtner (Chamakh 73)
53 Szczesny, 03 Sagna, 06 Koscielny, 41 Emmanuel-Thomas, 46 Lansbury, 11 Vela, 29 Chamakh
I can’t understand why Fabregas left that team for Barcelona…
Eastmond did his best to play the part of “former Arsenal player who wants to show us what we were missing” by clattering into Elneny in the 3rd minute of the match. Elneny was injured in that tackle, apparently, but played on until the 45th minute when he was swapped for Oxlade-Chamberlain. I looked at the tackle and Eastmond did pin Elneny’s ankle with his trailing leg but it looked pretty tame. Still, we all wait to see what the damage is.
What’s fascinating about Elneny going off is that Arsenal started the season with too many midfielders. For the first time in forever, Arsenal had an abundance of center mids. But Arsenal can’t keep any of them healthy or keep them from getting red cards. So, we finished the match with a midfield of Ox and Xhaka. It was OK against the non-League Sutton. But it’s funny that Arsenal having no midfielders was the reason Arsenal played Eastmond in that Champions League match 6 years ago.
Sutton’s other star attraction was another former Arsenal player Roarie Deacon. Deacon showed flashes of skill, hitting deadly crosses and even rattling the bar with a powerful strike. Clearly a talented player, I wonder what happened to him? He had the talent, he had the opportunity, that he didn’t go further usually indicates a lack of application. That’s Wenger’s T.A.O.
Arsenal spent much of the match adjusting to the speed of the artificial turf. As a Sounders fan, and someone who has played on these pitches, I know what artificial turf does to a game. The ball is… harder? It’s just more active. Like a normal pass is slightly harder to control. The ball also bounces funny, it’s extra bouncy. So, any bobble on the ball and it’s likely to jump up on you. That explains why Arsenal spent a lot of time trying to find their passing rhythm. In the second half things got better.
Iwobi was the biggest victim of the yips in passing. He had a terrible night. I’m sure he’ll bounce back.
Sutton was a bit physical and there were a few clearly ugly tackles in the match but Arsenal persevered.
Walcott scored his 100th goal and I will probably do a piece on his 100 goals over on Arseblog News. Look for that later this week.
The Sutton reserve keeper ate a sandwich. It was funny.
Arsenal go on to the next round and we got a good draw, playing another non-League team, Lincoln. It would probably be a tougher matchup, but it’s going to be played at the Emirates Stadium. So, we should be able to prevail and move on.
The magic of the cup is well and truly alive.