There is something very special at Arsenal FC. Something other clubs do not have, something that Arsenal fans and neutral fans love to watch and something those interested in the future of British football like to have a gander at. This is a carling cup youth team which beat Sheffield United 6-0 and Wigan 3-0 as well as a previous final appearance and a number of good prior campaigns including big wins over some big teams.
In previous years Wenger sometimes put one or two first team players in the Carling Cup team but as the seasons have gone on he has endeavoured to play mainly his youth team and any first team squad players used are the squad’s subs and reserves. What is also different with this team is that it is a glimpse into the future of British international football. Just like Vialli’s Chelsea team in the 1990’s, Wengers 00’s teams have been criticised for not having enough British players with Wenger claiming it will come but not for a while.
These players are now being seen at last with the likes of Ramsey, Wilshere, Simpson, Gibbs, Hoyte, Lansbury and Randall stepping up to the pitch and try and win a trophy for the gooners. The praise which the Carling Cup team has received over the last few years has been tremendous and well deserved too. The performances this season against Sheffield United and Wigan have been simply awesome, with some fantastic football and quality goals being scored throughout and they have made everyone once again sit up and take notice.
However such wonderful form had to come to an end. We all knew it would as these kids are not invincible even though they have looked it and in true Arsenal style this did not come against one of the Premiership grounds but rather on a cold night at Turf Moor against a fearless and determined Burnley team.
The worst thing about this inevitable defeat was that it was a simply woeful performance in which the passing was awful and the 4 one on one chances created were disgracefully squandered. It was a horrid night and one which the players probably needed so they can learn things about themselves and how much more they need to do to reach the high levels projected for them.
The team lined up
Arsenal: Fabianski, Rodgers, Hoyte, Silvestre, Gibbs, Wilshere, Randall, Merida, Ramsay, Bendtner, Vela
Burnley: Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Blake, McDonald, Mccann, Eagles, Paterson
The first chance of the game went to Nicklas Bendtner who had a great chance to score on 5 minutes but he set the tone for the day by tamely shooting it to the keeper rather than in the beack of the net. He was made tp pay instantly when a minute later Chris Eagles whipped in a dangerous cross close to Fabianski who couldn’t take it in one and the ball bouced out to McDonald who easily slotted it into the net and ran of in delight to celebrate with the home crowd.
The home crowd were loving it as they had taken down Chelsea in the previous round and now looked on course to do the same to the gunners. This was the first time the Carling Cup boys had been behind since Tottenham last year and they could tell that Burnley were not phased by their reputation, they knew a battle was on their hands.
Bendtner had a chance to rectify things five minutes later when he took Vela’s through pass past Caldwell and bore down on goal for a one on one chance. Once again he hit it straight at the keeper for an easy save. Many said that Burnley keeper Brian Jensen had an amazing game but in truth, whilst he did have a good game, it was the inadequacies of the Arsenal strikeforce which gave him some very easy saves to make.
Burnley then took advantage of a torrid spell fot the Arsenal midfield when their passing went to pieces. The Burnley attack probed away at the Arsenal defence and three excellent chances presented themselves which could have caused nightmares to Arsenal if even one went in. Chris eagles made a good run into the box and his shot was deflected into the side netting, soon after Martin Paterson had a great chance after some neat build up play but he hit it straight at Fabianski. Fabianski failed to hold onto another shot soon after but Paterson could not take advantage of the rebound like McDonald could.
It was a serious let off for Arsenal that none of those chances went in and they had to do something quick to reastablish themselves in the game. On the half hour Randall had a glorious chance after a brilliant Bendtner set up and was one on one with the keeper but the shot was once again at the keeper. Soon after the teams super-finisher Carlos Vela had a clean through one on one chance but he also slotted it straight at Jensen who i reckon could not believe his luck. I have watched the gunners for many many years and i have never seen such wastefulness. There have been many times where we have seen us being wasteful (we know that too well) from certain chances but 4 clear one on ones in 35 minutes, no…… just no……… i couldn’t believe it.
The half time whistle went and it was amazing Arsenal had not scored. Burnley had been the better and most coherent side overall but in terms of chances Arsenal had created more than there fill, but none were taken, not a sausage.
The second half begun and Fran Merida decided he had had enough of all the wastefullness and wanted to take things into his own hands. He went on a dribbling run which foxed the Burnley defence but when it came to the crunch he hit his shot agonisingly over the bar and away for a goal kick. It was a real shame as it would have been an amazing goal.
Just as before though Arsenal were made to pay for a missed chance when McDonald added his second of the game. A quick throw in found it’s way to McDonald who burst towards the aerial with Randall shadowing him. To be honest Randall’s defensive effort was shocking but take nothing away from McDonald, his outside of the foot finish past Fabianski was quality and the game was secured for the men in claret on their home turf.
Wenger was clearly rattled and he bought on Simpson and Bischoff to try and pull something back. Simpson had that one chance but his shot was straight at Jensen, just like all the rest. A better chance fell to Burnley’s Paterson but Fabianski was not to be defeated this time and beat him to the ball. Other than those chances the game fizzled out and Arsenal never looked like scoring. You just knew by watching the last 15 minutes that nothing was going to happen for Arsenal, the overall passing had been really poor and the previous misses spelled out the order of the day.
The Burnley team and Burnley fans celebrated a well deserved victory as the final whistle went. They really deserve their place in the semi’s now that they have beaten Chelsea and Arsenal, i hope they go on and win it.
Wenger was unhappy with the performance and i am sure the fans were but we can be proud of what the boys have done this year. They have shown amazing pedigree to score 9 goals in 3 games and to put in the performances they have. They had to lose to a non premiership team at some point and this was that day, with the chances they had they probably should have won but take nothing away from Burnley, they took it where it counts, on the scoreboard.
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