FA Cup: Burnley 0 – Arsenal 2

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
January 6th, 2008 • 3:49 pm

It was a tale of two very good goals, and a lot of defensive wobbliness in between. It definitely was not a vintage performance, and this might be cause for concern with the departure of three players to the African Cup—although two of those, Éboué and Touré, were involved today.

On the other hand, the team fielded by Arsène Wenger was definitely a second-string team, with key players missing (including Fábregas, Flamini, Hleb, Gallas, Clichy, and Adebayor), so we should probably not read too much into it.

Ultimately, they did the job, but there were more than a few scares, starting with a header on the bar in the opening minutes for Burnley. But Eduardo continued in his rich vein of form with another well-taken goal from an inch-perfect Touré pass. It was more like what was expected from the Gunners, and they were more or less in control during the rest of the first half.

The second half started with a sustained spell of Burnley pressure, but then they had a player sent off and it was easy to assume that the contest was over. Yet somehow it gave the home side even more energy and motivation, and the Gunners were well and truly dominated until they effectively killed the contest with another terrific goal, this time with Eduardo providing the assist and Bendtner finishing in style.

With teams from the lower leagues raising their game for the occasion, there was no shortage of upsets this week-end, with Everton, Bolton and Blackburn going out and Liverpool held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Luton. In that respect, Arsenal did reasonably well, and the gamble taken by Arsène Wenger paid off.

Depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s fourth round draw, however, it is quite likely that the team fielded for the next game in the competition will feature a significantly higher proportion of first-team players. All things considered, it is not all that surprising that players who are not getting a sustained run of games do not display the same level of confidence and strength, and that’s what makes it a gamble to field so many untested players, no matter how much promise they might have shown in the recent past.

The Carling Cup competition, on the other hand, is another story. Wenger has clearly instilled belief into the “youth team” that he has assembled for that competition, and while that team has a number of players in common with the team who played today, it is on a great run and will be a serious contender for the semi-finals that start this week.

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