Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fixture Congestion

Leyton Orient 1-1 Arsenal

Back down to earth: away from the glamour of the midweek match at the Emirates, Arsenal again struggled when presented with the more prosaic side of the game.

Never should have drawn though. Orient fail to make it much of a contest. They sit deep and deny Arsenal any chance of an early goal glut, but lack the ability to mount a meaningful attack for much of the game. Centre back debutant Miquel does well for Arsenal but is hardly tested. Looks confident on the ball.

After a million games without a goal, Tomas Rosicky scores with a well-placed header from Bendtner's centre early in the second half. That should be that. But Arsenal don't build on it. Arshavin works himself into so many dangerous positions, but is so inefficient. His most impressive moment sees him hit the outside of a post late on, and moments later Orient secure a replay.

Jonathan Tehoue, on as a substitute, finds himself with the ball on the edge of the area, faced with Miquel and Gibbs. He pulls out a neat trick to work his way past their feeble challenge and fires a well-struck shot between the legs of Almunia. Arsenal have little time to react. In hindsight, it is easy to say that Wenger should have thrown Fabregas and Nasri on to finish the tie off at 1-0, knowing that his team are never safe when trying to defend a one goal lead (or two, or three, or four). But there seemed little danger for much of the game and the desire to rest the main men at the start of another big week is understandable.

Now Arsenal are faced with yet another game. And the questionable reward for a win in the replay will be a trip to the graveyard of dreams that is Old Trafford.

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