Tag Archives: Carling Cup

Gunners Advance To Cup Quarterfinals


Goals from Fran Merida and Nicklas Bendtner gave Arsenal a 2-1 win over Liverpool in their Carling Cup fourth round encounter at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

Victory in the entertaining affair between two of the Premiership’s “Big Four” means Arsenal have qualified for the quarterfinals of this competition for a seventh straight season.

While Arsenal’s Carling Cup runs during previous years have seen more youth in the lineup for matches, last night’s game featured a side more balanced with some veteran first-teamers recovering from injuries. That number included Bendtner, whose effort in minute 50 broke a 1-1 deadlock and provided the final margin.

Merida opened the scoring just before the 20-minute mark of an open and exciting first half. Kerrea Gilbert broke up a Liverpool clearance, and the Spaniard collected at the edge of the box before turning to deliver a brilliant, left-footed strike past keeper Diego Cavalieri.

Liverpool’s Emiliano Insua equalized not long after, with his own superb long-range effort that Lukasz Fabianski couldn’t keep out of the net. That left things level at 1-1 at halftime, although Arsenal had more of the chances on goal before the break, including a couple during a goalmouth scramble after a corner that were each blocked.

With the Bendtner goal coming early in the second period, Liverpool did have chances to level again, but Arsenal were able to hold on and thus hand ‘Pool its fifth loss in six games.

“I believe overall it was a game of top quality with two teams who really went for it,” said manager Arsene Wenger in his post-match interview from http://www.arsenal.com. “You had the quality of the passing, sometimes the ball was played through a very short space but at a high pace.

“Liverpool came back to 1-1 and we still managed to win the game. That shows as well we have mental resources,” added the manager. “It was more of a European Cup night than a Carling Cup night, quality wise. We have seen two very, very good teams who play at the top level.”

Asked about goalscorer Merida in the interview, Wenger responded: “He is a quality player and he comes from a very good school (in Spain). I believe we had some top quality on the pitch in midfield, and in that kind of game that is very important. … He came (to Arsenal) at a very young age but our school is on line with the way he was educated, and he shows perfectly the way we want to play football.”

“I scored my first goal for the club so I am really happy and also because the team won against a really tough side,” said Merida, who recently returned from the U-20 World Cup with Spain. “The Carling Cup is really important for young players. We have to show what we can do and also enjoy it because we don’t get many first-team games.

“We know that it will be a really tough cup because there are some strong teams left in the competition,” added the Spaniard in an interview from the club’s official site. “There is no one to fear because we can beat anyone.”


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Nasri Returns For Liverpool Match


Two days after making the bench for Arsenal’s disappointing draw at West Ham in the Premiership, Samir Nasri will be included in the Gunners starting lineup for tonight’s Carling Cup tie with Liverpool.

The French midfielder — along with goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski — played in a reserve match last week upon recovering from long-term injuries, and both are set to make their initial appearances of the season for Arsenal’s first team in the Cup match at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners will look to return to winning ways after wasting a 2-0 lead at Upton Park on Sunday, when West Ham scored two second-half goals to earn a point. The draw still saw Arsenal move up one place to third in the league table ahead of rivals Tottenham, who will visit Arsenal on Saturday.

But before that Premiership derby arrives, Arsene Wenger’s side aim to advance past another big rival in the Carling Cup, hosting a Liverpool team fresh off a 2-0 home win over Manchester United this past weekend.

While Nasri and Fabianski will be on the pitch against the Merseysiders, Jack Wilshere will be left out, according to Richard Clarke’s report on http://www.arsenal.com. The 17-year-old Englishman has starred in this domestic cup competition the past couple of seasons, but will sit out this encounter due to an ankle problem, according to Wenger.

Clarke added that “Armand Traore (groin) is also missing, but Wenger will be fielding a relatively experienced side. He intends to use the game to give Eduardo (thigh) and Nicklas Bendtner (groin) a start. Both came off the bench against West Ham on Sunday but, before that, they had missed a few games with injury.”

“Eduardo and Bendtner will be back. But we still have Rosicky, Denilson and Walcott out,” said Wenger. “Jack (Wilshere) had a knock on his ankle and will be out unfortunately. It is a question of days but we made a trial with him on Sunday and we are resigned to the fact he will be just too short to play.”

While a number of Arsenal’s veteran first-teamers will sit out the Carling Cup match to allow younger players to see action, Philippe Senderos and Mikael Silvestre are included in the team. The two defenders will be joined by teenagers Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs, Fran Merida, Sanchez Watt and Francis Coquelin in a balanced squad, as Wenger looks to give the youngsters experience in a competition that the Gunners have found some success in during recent seasons.

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Vela, Watt Spark Carling Cup Victory


Arsenal defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at the Emirates on Tuesday to kick off its Carling Cup run for the season. Sanchez Watt scored in his initial first-team start for the Gunners, while Carlos Vela also bagged a goal in his return to action after a summer ankle injury.

The Mexican forward, who notched a number of impressive goals in this competition last season, entered the game with Mark Randall after an hour of play. The two substitutes helped turn the lively third-round Cup encounter Arsenal’s way, as the home side gained the upper hand with two tallies during an impressive second-half display.

Selecting eight teenagers for his starting lineup, Arsene Wenger has again decided on featuring Arsenal’s youngsters in the Carling Cup this campaign. To offer some veteran leadership, Mikael Sylvestre and Philippe Senderos slotted in as the Gunners central defenders for the evening matchup.

And it was Senderos who had the first solid chance on goal, heading a corner just wide only a couple of minutes in. The Swiss defender who almost left North London on a transfer this summer was seeing his first action at the Emirates in over a year, having spent last season on loan to AC Milan.

West Brom, who currently lead the Championship standings after trouncing Middlesbrough 5-0 on the weekend, started the match well and had as many chances on goal as Arsenal in the opening half hour. But Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny made some fine saves to deny the visitors and keep things scoreless.

The entertaining first half saw Jack Wilshere create a number of chances for Arsenal, first playing in Sanchez Watt for a shot that hit the post and then narrowingly missing with his own effort. His tussle in minute 36 with former Gunner Jerome Thomas after clashing for a loose ball served as the turning point in the opening half — as the West Brom man was shown a red card for raising his hands and shoving Wilshere down.

Arsenal couldn’t capitalize with the extra man before the break, but started the second stanza strong with a definite territorial advantage. Still, the first clear opportunity on goal in the half fell to the visitors, as an unmarked Simon Cox could only put a header over the bar, just before the hour mark.

That’s when Wenger made his changes, and Vela’s introduction did offer a boost to the home side and its crowd. In the 68th minute, he took a pass from Aaron Ramsey and created some space on the edge of the area before rocketing a shot on goal. West Brom keeper Dean Kiely made a fine block, but Watt pounced on the rebound to slot home the opening goal.

While Ramsey and Vela soon had additional efforts on goal against the tiring visitors, the second goal came 15 minutes from time. Randall worked his way past a couple of defenders and lofted a sumptuous chip over Kiely that hit the crossbar. Vela stole in to control the rebound and score from inches out, providing the game’s final margin.

Home supporters were pleased to see the return of the Mexican, as was his manager. “When he came on straight away he made a difference because he is dangerous in his control and in his movement.

“His class gives you something special but I feel overall it was a good game,” said Wenger in a post-match interview. “It would have been a great game certainly if it had stayed 11 against 11 but we were patient, we played with cohesion and intelligence. We didn’t make mistakes and in the end the natural outcome was there.”

The manager believes Vela isn’t ready for Premiership action just yet, stating: “He was not even ready to start tonight but he needs to work. We have Van Persie, Bendtner, Eduardo and Vela as strikers, because we count Walcott more as a midfielder, as a right-winger.

“Of course he is in my plans, he can play as a winger as well,” added the manager. “He can play wide left, wide right, he can play central, he gives you plenty of options.”

Vela will almost certainly be an option in Arsenal’s next Carling Cup match, with the Gunners set to find out their next opponent on Saturday, when the draw for the fourth round will be held.

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Eventful Day, But No Transfers


Deadline day for the summer transfer window came and went without any news of incoming or outgoing transfers at Arsenal. But things were far from quiet on Tuesday for the North London side, as its Reserves squad won again in convincing fashion and club management received word of UEFA’s decision to ban striker Eduardo da Silva for two Champions League group games.

While the European governing body’s plans regarding the Eduardo incident had been evident days ago, yesterday’s announcement made the ban official — a two-match suspension beginning with the Gunners’ opening group encounter at Standard Liege on September 16 — while also giving Arsenal three days to appeal the decision.

The actual statement on the matter, appearing on the UEFA web site, included the following: “The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body today examined the case of the Arsenal FC player Eduardo ‘for deceiving the referee’ during the UEFA Champions League play-off second leg match on 26 August against Celtic FC, and has suspended the player for two UEFA club competition matches.”

Arsenal released its own statement on the matter Tuesday, making known its disappointment with UEFA’s decision and adding: “We have been deeply frustrated by the perfunctory and apparently arbitrary process that UEFA has followed in this instance. We believe it is imperative that UEFA’s explanation for its decision provides clear and comprehensive standards that will be consistently enforced. It is also critical that UEFA provides specific details of the processes it plans to adopt in reviewing all games under its jurisdiction.”

Arsenal may file an appeal, with the club statement also noting that: “We have been informed that we will receive a ‘reasoned decision’ from UEFA by Thursday of this week. Once we receive UEFA rationale, we will make a decision on the next steps.

Manager Arsene Wenger’s strong reaction of disapproval to UEFA’s actions was described in many a weekend press report, with other noted managers coming out since then to also question the decision and wonder how the governing body will approach and discipline various incidents of “deception” in the future.

Those coaches include former Celtic chief Gordon Strachan along with Slavan Bilic, manager of Eduardo’s national team Croatia, who slammed UEFA’s decision as “a disgrace. We are talking about a player who is a role model of a sportsman. I simply cannot understand how he can be punished.”

Eduardo is currently with his national side for the international break, as many first-teamers have left the Emirates to represent their country. But the Reserve team continued its schedule yesterday, with the young Gunners putting on a dominant display in a 4-0 win at Birmingham.

Sanchez Watt scored twice for Arsenal, with Craig Eastmond and Gilles Sunu adding goals to help defeat a Birmingham side that included former Premiership striker Kevin Phillips. This writer was particularly impressed with the performances of midfielders Fran Merida and Francis Coquelin, who controlled play and created most of the scoring opportunities for their teammates.

The only down side to the victory was an injury to Armand Traore (pictured above) late in the game at St. Andrew’s. The left back had made a number of strong runs down the flank and assisted on one goal, but pulled up with what seemed to be a groin injury on a late burst forward and was immediately taken off, leaving Arsenal to finish with ten men.

Traore was one of a number of Gunner defenders rumored to be leaving the club this summer either through transfer or loan deals late in the transfer window. Yet with the deadline now passed, Traore, Philippe Senderos and Emmanuel Eboue all remain at the Emirates, to offer cover for first-team defenders as well as potentially see action in the domestic Cup competitions.

Speaking of those knockout tournaments, the third round draw for this season’s Carling Cup was announced this past weekend, with dates for the round’s matches scheduled yesterday.

Among the higher-ranked Premiership clubs joining the competition in this third round, Arsenal will play host to West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, September 22 to open its Carling Cup run for this season.

Wenger again plans to use squad players and younger stars for matches in this league cup, which begins earlier than the FA Cup and culminates in a February final — and represents Arsenal’s first chance at a trophy for the 2009-10 campaign and a potential end to the four-year drought of silverware for the club.


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