Kieran D will be posting later… I’m not sure what time it is back there in the UK, I think it’s still officially Sunday but over here is sunny Luxembourg, it’s Monday morning…! We made a right meal of that, didn’t we? Super summer signing Squillaci didn’t exactly cover himself in a blaze of glory either… I haven’t actually watched the game, so I can’t really give you a match report, but I’ll tell you what I know and give you my views of a few things…
The starting XI was a bit reserve and Arsene took the opportunity to rest a few players, considering the lower league opposition…
Eboue – Squillaci – Koscielny – Gibbs
Denilson – Diaby
Arshavin - Nasri – Bendtner
With a bench of Szczesny, Fabregas, Rosicky, van Persie, Walcott, Song, Wilshere
Almunia’s appearance was the first in 4 months and with Fabianski in the wars injury wise, the decision to let Almunia go has been halted and this game was designed to give him an opportunity to show us what he can do and of course to prove his fitness in case he is needed. For Everton’s game, I’d expect Szcznesy to start but Almunia to replace Shea on the bench.
Squillaci and Diaby were the other returnees, and there would obviously be an element of non-match fitness with a few players. Apparently the referee had a very odd game… in lieu of my own match report, here is a quick summary from the BBC…
Cesc Fabregas came off the bench to fire 10-man Arsenal into the FA Cup fifth round as the Gunners narrowly saw off League One Huddersfield. The hosts led when Peter Clarke diverted Nicklas Bendtner’s strike into his own net, before Sebastien Squillaci was sent off for a block on Jack Hunt. The red card changed the game and Alan Lee headed the Terriers level. But Fabregas slotted home a late winner from the penalty spot after Bendtner had been fouled by Jamie McCombe.
A people on yesterday’s blog and more people on twitter and facebook have been expressing a level of disappointment about the game, and the players chosen – and in fact, a security officer in Luxembourg recognised my Arsenal t-shirt and starting commenting to me that Arsenal struggled to beat Leeds, Ipswich and Huddersfield and slated Arsene for his team selection. Do people not get it? We have a squad – we need to use them and we need to keep everyone fit – when we play weaker teams that the top of the Premiership – we need to use these players. If we don’t then we will tire out the existing squad and get them injured – and then the fringe players will have no match fitness and it will all end is us losing games.
We know that Arsene has to do this, so let’s understand when we don’t win 6-0. We did win all those three games mentioned above, whilst resting key players, so lay off Arsene. He played Nasri today when most thought Rosicky would play and Nasri is out now for a month with a hamstring injury – you can’t always get it right, but it makes sense to rotate when you can.
Arsene summarised the game…
It was tough, tough, tough, because it had all the ingredients of a typical cup game. We played a little bit below par and Huddersfield is a good team, they have shown that today. They were efficient, they are always dangerous on set-pieces and crosses, they scored on a set-piece. It had the ingredients of a cup game as well because we were down to ten men so it became very difficult. In the end we had the quality just to make the difference and in the final 25 minutes I felt we had room to score goals. But we play so many games at the moment that sometimes we are not as sharp as we would want to be. That is what happened today.
With Squillaci getting sent off, it does pose another problem for our squad – as he will miss three games through suspension and when you already have your #1 centre back injured and the #2 and #3 playing every game in a row for most of the last 2 months, you kind of need your #4 not to get sent off in his first game back!
Arsene was asked about potentially buying a stop-gap, and was quite certain with his plans:
Not more, not less, because it’s three games. For us it’s good because we play three games in a week so it is only one week [that he will be out]. No [I am not likely to sign anyone before the deadline], I leave these headlines to all the other clubs, but at the moment no. I cannot tell you definitely because someone might knock at my door in the morning and says ‘I would like to play for you’ and he is a good player because I would sign him!
So there we have it – we’re back down to 2 centre backs… tomorrow we play again!