Arsenal 1-0 Doncaster Rovers
Wednesday 20th September 2017
It’s funny that Darren Ferguson is the Doncaster manager. His father, Sir Alex, was in the stands tonight, and it seems daddy Ferguson channelled one of his performances from his Man U days into his son’s tonight. How Doncaster are a League 1 team is beyond me. Yes, they raised their game, naturally but then Arsenal were lucky in some ways to get a win. Maybe the spirit of Sir Alex’s good performances at Arsenal, like 4-2 win in 2005, or the Champions League semi win in 2009, were somehow and magically funnelled through his son.
Either way, Arsenal won, but it was possibly a mixture of Doncaster raising their game, and Arsenal looking jaded and lax. The play was not as sharp as it could have been, and possibly a little complacency crept in.
Doncaster had some very good chances to score on the second half, while Arsenal defended capably in parts, and had to ameliorate defensive errors to retain both the win and the clean sheet.
Wenger kept his literally decades old League Cup format, in playing mostly kids, squad players, and experienced heads. Though even if the big guns were here, it may not have changed the result, given how impressive Doncaster was.
Arsenal looked sharp at the outset, with Alexis the player of the half with some swift turns and tricks, and setting up Walcott for the only goal of the game. Theo beat their offside-trap and scored past their ‘keeper.
Doncaster had a chance near half-time that hit the side-netting, but overall it was pretty comfortable for Arsenal.
Arsenal looked very jaded and sloppy in parts, and possibly was looking to see out the win. Doncaster on the other hand was eager to equalise, or maybe even win, and had some excellent chances to score themselves. Arsenal defended well in parts, but Nelson and Maitland-Niles both covered each other’s defensive errors, utilising good strength and pace on either occasion.
Towards the end, Doncaster looked pretty strong, and some last-ditch Arsenal defending stopped them scoring. They were clearly up for it, and in a way this was a cup-final for them.
However, Arsenal held out for a win, and passage into the fourth round.
We looked pretty laboured, though it almost backfired on us. We may have taken Doncaster for granted, or just did not take this game seriously. Wenger’s League Cup policy is well-known over many years, after all.
However, the young players looked very sharp, namely Maitland-Niles and Nelson.
Alexis was sublime in the first-half, and was instrumental in getting the winning goal. Possibly he is still not match fit, as his second-half performance was not that strong.
Ospina and the defence were OK, though there were some individual errors that were not overly costly.
The big plus of course was Jack Wilshere sans hair returning to the starting line-up and he was OK. In fact in the first period he was better than alright and there were glimpses of his shirt bursts to escaped and man, superb control in tight spaces and visionary passing. he really is the closer player to Cazorla we have and I am sure we will see more of him in the coming week. Elneny, his parter was his usual tidy and solid self, with the wing-backs providing both good width and defensive cover.
Giroud had a great chance in the first half when he hit the crossbar. And Walcott did well to get into the position to score.
Overall, it was a pedestrian outing, made more difficult by Doncaster’s good play, and Arsenal’s poor mentality. It is lucky that this was not a Premier League team, as we would have lost this game.
Man of the Match – Nelson
Reiss Nelson seems to be a near-wonder boy, and I can see why. He expended great energy in both attack and defence, and looks like he can have a big part to play this season. Given that Wing-back is undoubtedly not his position, he did look shakey in the defensive aspects but he stuck to his task admirably