It’s just one match, and one in which we sent out a fair number of second-string players. It’s true that Chelsea did the same, but when your second-string includes the likes of Mata, Essien, Mikel, and Eto’o, you have a right to expect a result like this one. There’s been some hand-wringing from the idea that this is the second time in two weeks that we’ve come up short at home against elite competition, and there’s an element of truth in that but only on the front end. Losing to Dortmund at home in the Champions League is one thing, but losing at home to Chelsea in the League Cup is another matter entirely. On a night when our attack, such as it was, consisted of a striker we’ve tried to unload in almost every imaginable way and a 20-year old winger who’s made a mere four appearances on the season, well, we’re going to struggle to score, especially against a defense that includes the likes of Cahill, Sideshow Bob, and Azpilicueta. It’s our first time failing to score all season, a string of fourteen matches. Silver linings and so on.
I just don’t think there are very many broader conclusions to be drawn from this result, at least not about the squad as a whole. Regulars did fairly well for themselves, but none really left his mark on the match, and that’s to be expected when playing with players they rarely play with. We didn’t look quite as disjointed as we did when we faced West Brom, and that’s actually encouraging despite coming out on the short end of things when you consider the quality of the opposition. No, the only broader conclusion to be drawn is one that we’ve known about the whole time: the squad is thin. By 10 November, we should have Podolski, Walcott, and Ox back, and our attacking options will thus look that much stronger.
As to individual players, no one truly stood out although Cazorla, despite the fact that he’s still finding fitness and was the only real attacking threat for the defense to worry about, had some chances and very nearly scored late on. At the other end, Jenkinson had a difficult night all around, punctuated by the error that lead to Chelsea’s first goal. He is still limited, still too weak with his left and in the air. His header back to Fabianksi was telegraphed for an eternity, giving Azpilicueta plenty of time to anticipate (so much so that I wondered if he might have run offside) and beat Fabianski to it, and Jenkinson headed so feebly that Fabianski had no chance. Jenkinson is not doubt devastated by this flub, but I hope he doubles down and comes back more determined than ever to answer his critics.
Between Cazorla’s decent display and Jenkinson’s difficult night, most everyone else played a fairly average match without much to say as far as highlights or howlers. We muddled through, and as nice as a win would might have been, let’s not mistake the quality of the opposition for the importance of the match. In years past, we’ve crashed out in sometimes shocking fashion to lower-tier teams. Once this fixture was announced, it took on more glamour and more symbolic power than it really deserved. It was a fourth-round League Cup match, one in which we would normally play quite a few more Academy players, see what happens, and shrug, more or less, whatever the result is. Last year, we sent out a full-strength (ish) squad and still lost to League Two Bradford. This time ’round, we would face Chelsea, a hated rival and contender for the Prem League championship, and this inflated but didn’t raise the stakes. So we threw on a few first-teamers and second-stringers, left the Academy kids on the bench (for the most part), and got what we got.
So it goes.
Our starting XI still strikes me as one the best, if not the best, in the Prem. Peeking past that, of course, reminds us of our thinness, and that was the factor tonight. However, taking the League Cup off of our list of fixtures makes it a little easier to focus on the Prem, the Champions League, and the FA Cup. The League Cup was always lowest on my list of targets for the year. I know I’m not alone in feeling that. In fact, here’s my list of targets for the year:
- win the Prem.
- Advance past the Champions League group stage (further? why not?).
- win the FA Cup.
win the League Cup.
In other news, I’m proud to announce that this blog is one of six finalists in the Football Blogging Awards’ “Best New Blog” category. I’m facing some stiff competition from some general-interest blogs that cover a little of everything: transfers-rumors, betting, etc. I’m hoping that fellow Gooners will take a moment to vote:
- Click here to receive the email ballot (where you can also vote for other Gooners’ blogs in other categories).
- Click here to vote on facebook (post a comment like “I vote for Woolwich 1886 as best #New Blog”)
- Click here to vote on twitter (just click “tweet” in the new window).
Thanks, as always, for your visit. Let’s put this result aside and get ready for the Mugsmashers! ‘Til next time…
It's time to loan Jenkinson out. He needs more time playing time than he's getting. Play him only against teams at the bottom of the table so Sagna can stay fresh, loan Jenks in January, and sign another quality RB.
we should of tried harder with a stronger squad, if we won there would be a clear path to the trophy. there would only be a few more matches anyway. too bad.
no way, he should stay with the club so he can learn from Sagna, Kos, and Per. if he gets loaned out he won't be challenged so he won't grow. besides we are thin enough as it is so we can't afford to lose him.
The key thing to remember regarding last night's result is the injury list. Chelsea have only one injury altogether. Almost all of our wide players were out, plus Flamini/Diaby. That's six players who would have been in the running to start last night. Now is not the best time to talk about squad strength.My main concern last night was the lack of goal threat. When you think that our four main wide players were all out (Theo, Ox, Poldi, Gnabry), it makes more sense.
Meh? It wasn't going out of the Carling Cup or whatever the call it now, it was the toothless home display and losing to the Chavs in our own backyard that made me feel ill. No leadership at the club on or off the pitch for close to a decade
and no mention of Nick B? It would appear that the opportunity to shine faded away and he only demonstrated the lack of a decent back-up for Giroud. Must we wait for Pato (as is being rumored) in January and will it be too late.What remains a problem, injuries or not, is that Chelsea had folks to bring in on their second-string that might not be so at the Emirates and that for all the time spent chasing various folks all summer, the bench has not been adequately strengthened.