A Fan's View: Arsenal 2 Albion 0
By Site Editor
Updated Wednesday, 23rd September 2009
DonnyValdo gives his verdict on Albion's defeat at The Emirates
After seemingly waiting an age on the car park of the East Stand to depart I left with a sense of excitement and expectation on my first visit to The Emirates in the convoy of coaches heading south. After navigating through the traffic on the M6 and entering London we finally found ourselves at the magnificent Emirates Stadium. I know that MKBaggies wasn’t too impressed and compared it to the Reebok Stadium! – but I thought it was an amazing ground. Why they built it in the middle of a housing estate is beyond me? But it’s certainly a ground worthy of better supporters than Arsenal’s.
The Baggies started brightly against Arsenal’s youngsters – not really sure they’ve been referred to that with Senderos and Silvestre in defence – and showed the home side they were in for a physical 90 minutes. Graham Dorrans pushed, shoved and bullied his way around the midfield with Robert Koren also imposing himself on the game. Gonzalo Jara – although caught out of position twice early on – looked solid and composed on the ball. Even Leon Barnett looked at home on the lush Arsenal turf. After Senderos had two free headers from corners and Watt had stumbled the ball onto the post to give Albion an early scare, it was the Baggies who pushed for the opener.
Good work from Thomas down the left saw Cox smartly turn and fire a shot towards the near post of Szczesny’s goal. A more solid connection and Albion would surely have been a goal up. Minutes later the Baggies again threatened down the left with Koren this time trying his luck with Szczesny again palming the ball around his post.
The game changed seven minute before half-time when Jerome Thomas gave Jack Wilshire a pat on the chest after the petulant youngster refused to shake hands after a challenge from the winger. If you raise your hands you deserve to get sent off but I’m not sure how much force it took for the 17-year-old to go down. Typical Arsenal I suppose.
After the break
Albion soaked up large periods of Arsenal pressure after the break but were never really troubled in front of goal. At times the Gooners reminded me of Albion last season when the ball was played one way or the other across the box with little end result. Possession is all good and well, but it’s what you do with it that’s important. Although down to ten men Albion were still pressing in midfield. Dorrans still sprinting for loose balls and snapping at heels. Koren pushing forward where possible and Teixeria having his best game in an Albion shirt for a long time with close control and smart passing.
It was the Baggies who came closest to opening the scoring following a smart move down the right. Moore ran on to ball over the top and did well to feed the ball back to Zuiverloon. The much maligned defender – who was far more impressive in defence last night – whipped in a lovely cross with Simon Cox somehow missing with a header from six yards. That was our chance! Moments later Watt capitalised on a parried shot from Vela and the game was effectively over with Arsenal 1-0 up against ten men.
Despite the goal Albion were still not overrun with Di Matteo’s defensive principles there for all to see. While a goal down and heading out of the cup, it was a pleasure – and a relief – that Albion kept their shape and discipline. However a second was not far away. Barnett hadn’t played too bad until this point but it’s a familiar story where he’s concerned for me. Why a central defender would try and chest a ball back to a goalkeeper on the floor when facing his goal six yards out is beyond me. Clearly a case of the Mowbrays here! I know he’s still young but when he is ever going to learn and stop making mistakes which lead to goals? We don’t want defenders who think they’re Zidane. JUST CLEAR THE BALL MAN!!! We want defenders who will do anything to stop that ball going in our net. Barnett just doesn’t do that for me to be honest.
I went to The Emirates half expecting us to lose after watching demolitions of Sheffield United and Wigan last season in the same competition. The ground was spectacular – although all you could hear were Albion chants – as was the fish and chips before the game, if not a little pricey at a fiver a pop. Welcome to London. But more importantly the performance was good. I really believe from what I saw in the first 38 minutes had we maintained a full team for the full 90 minutes we’d be in the fourth round and celebrating extending our unbeaten start to the season. Bring on Colin on Saturday...