Arsenal avoid bee sting
Arsenal 3-1 C'mon u Bees
The Carabao Cup returned to the Emirates with all the fake energy, fizz and wallop of a glucose filled carbonated drink. Brentford travelled to North London, a fixture Arsenal fans haven't been treated to for over fifty years. On a personal note it's a fixture I've quietly longed for having spent my childhood a mere stones' throw away from Griffin Park (a ground with a pub on every corner!) in leafy West London. Brentford were always a yo-yo club back then spending most of the time in League Division 2 (old school folks), now league 1, so the match never looked like happening unless we got lucky with a cup draw, who would have thought back then the Milk Cup (old school folks) would be the answer!
The team news when it came through wasn't surprising, Smith Rowe getting a start which was pleasing though I thought Eddie Nketiah was a bit unlucky not to get a go up front, perhaps Unai's conservative nature stopping him from going to gung-ho, and maybe with the Man Utd's result fresh in the memory... (LOL: Derby beat them on penalties on Tuesday).
Arsenal: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Mustafi, Monreal, Guendouzi, Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Welbeck Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Ramsey, Lacazette, Torreira, Kolasinac, Nketiah
It's as this juncture a need to point out I didn't go to the Emirates to watch this one live. The perils and lateness of midweek games are hard enough to justify when it's a duff Europa League tie but the Cowabunga Cup? which as a season ticket holder you have to pay extra for? No thank you sir!
So it was the Sky Sports Soccer Special I headed for, not the usual gold standard gang of Le Tiss, Merse, Tommo and Charlie with Jeff Stelling orchestrating but the 'C panel' consisting of Neil Mellor, Alan McInally and Ian Dowie presented by Jeff Lite (Julien Warren). As hard as Julien tries, he's just no Jeff which kind of kills the spectacle and the drama was further dampened by the news Ian Dowie would be taking the Arsenal match! God love him, a guy who Hollywood used as a model for Sloth in the Goonies movie and who as a player headed more posts than balls, Ian Dowie is to commentary what Theresa May is to moonwalking.
Would Arsenal start slow again?
Well not quite, this was Brentford after all, but the signs weren't good with Leno making an early mess of a back pass and presenting the eight thousand Bees fans packed into the Clock End with a corner within the first two minutes. Thankfully the danger was dealt with and Arsenal settled. On 5 mins Arsenal were presented with a corner of their own and took the lead thanks to a glancing header from Danny Welbeck. Assisted by Guendouzi and leaving the keeper stranded the ball flew into the back corner beyond the covering defence who were pushing up and thus justifying Welbeck's inclusion. (Note to self). 1-0 to The Arsenal.
The game then ebbed and flowed, lots of pretty possession from Arsenal, a few tasty challenges and rushed play from Brentford. The second goal when it came on 38 mins was something of a beaut! If Unai Emery's vision of playing out of the back is lost on a few then watch this for how he wants it done... Arsenal 2-0
There is so much to like in the goal, quick incisive passing, great positioning, awareness and clinical finishing, first team take note!
Halftime was met by a cup of tea and a check to see what social media was making of everything, not a lot it would appear, not even Twitter gives a tiny rats arse about the Cowabunga Cup.
The second half continued like the first, Brentford being busy bees (sorry had to) trying to muster chances but relying on sloppiness from Arsenal to let them in, Smith Rowe was playing well and Guendouzi was running around a lot. It's this care free attitude of 'Side Show Bob' that looks great in possession but slightly headless when without the ball and ultimately its a rashness that got Brentford back into the game. Ian Dowie, who was gurning and grunting at every corner and tackle the Championship side won began to slightly froth at the mouth after Guendouzi committed a silly foul just outside the Arsenal box.
The wall set up, Leno seemed to leave a big space to aim at and Brentford obliged, great free kick yes, could Leno have done better, perhaps? should Arsenal have given away the free kick, no! Ian Dowie thus lots his nut and Arsenal fans reacted.....
What followed was Arsenal panicking in possession whilst Brentford and their fans could smell blood. Good chances came and went for the away side in a 15 minute spell in which they failed to get the equaliser they probably deserved. Unai had to change something to give Arsenal some confidence, Torriera was introduced to steady the back line and Lacazette up front to try and nick the match. Monreal went close with a header and after failing with a good attempt Lacazette got the winner in injury time, latching on to a poor defensive mistake by the Brentford defence and neatly placing the ball past the keeper, no mistake for Arsenal , 3-1, job done!. Iwobi had the ball in the net very late but was rightly called offside.
Conclusions: It's all about the second goal really and how ugly Dowie is!
I couldn't possibly, I didn't watch the match live but from what I can gather, Smith Rowe, Iwobi and Mikki did well and special mention to Danny Welbeck for the two goals, he can be relied on in these competitions, less so in the Premiership.
Next up a bunch of angry Hornets who were dumped out of the Cowabunga last night after a certain Mr Ali dived late for an equaliser. Arsenal need to avoid more stings on Saturday!