This was an absolutely barn-storming 6-1 Arsenal win that can only send a rush of confidence through a club who face a big test at The Emirates against Chelsea; 6-0 winners the night before. Here are 8 lessons learnt from the Capital One Cup encounter:
- Theo Walcott has given Arsene Wenger a real selection headache. Against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season, Walcott and Robin van Persie destroyed an André Villas Boas side who pushed up way to far, and were punished by swift breakaways. Can Walcott do this again against tougher opposition in a week that he publically declared that he would stay at Arsenal provided he was played more up front? With Gervinho’s Manchester City performance on Sunday, Walcott may have forced his way past him.
- Gooners had the sight last night of an Arsenal #14 attacking the box on the left, cutting across the area, with defenders hapless in his wake, and then cheering a right foot curler being despatched into the far bottom corner…it was almost as if Thierry Henry had been cloned. Glorious.
The link-up play that I expect Jack Wilshere and Alex Chamberlain to have is very exciting. Sublime.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Nature vs. Nurture? Is this prodigious talent the result of being the son of an England international footballer (who’s genes I’d label the ‘nature’) or is he the product of a fantastic youth system at Southampton FC (again, the ‘nurture’). One wonders how Sergio Aguero’s son (and who is of course also Diego Maradona’s grandson) will turn out as a footballer?! I would say Chamberlain is undoubtedly the result of both factors. What an exceptional player and charactor. In a world were Stewart Downing costs £20m and Jack Rodwell costs £17m, Alex Chamberlain’s £15m fee (if all clauses are met) looks an absolute steal. He never looks phased, stressed or overawed by a match. His power in his shots, his energy in his runs and his first touch are all delightful, instinctive and totally suited to the club and the link-up play that I expect Jack Wilshere and Alex Chamberlain to have is very exciting. Sublime.
- Andrei Arshavin was alive in a #10 role behind Giroud. One goal and at least three assists, a great return and he is surely a genuine contender to replace the irrepressible Santi Cazorla should he lose form or woe-betide, get injured. Spasibo Andrei!
- The future is central European. The idea that Iberia-way was the system to follow has perhaps been reassessed. After the horrific showing Germany put in during Euro 2000, the German clubs re-shaped their academies to provide a long-term solution to the lack of prospects making it into the big Bundesliga clubs. Twelve players from each club’s academies’ annual intake must be eligible for Germany and since this was implemented in 2002, the number of extremely talented young German players has exploded. Thomas Muller, Mezut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira and Mario Gotze have all surged through the German academy system and made their mark for a re-invigorated Die Deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft and in the UEFA Champions League. Serge Gnabry, the much vaunted German midfielder with Neymar’s haircut was on show last night, the product of VFB Stuttgart’s academy as well as Martin Angha, an Austrian defender who played for the Zurich clubs in Switzerland before joining Arsenal at 16. Both showed class and maturity. Thomas Eisfeld, a player Arsenal signed from Borussia Dortmund’s youth system wasn’t on show, but great things are expected from him after an impressive preseason. However, it isn’t that central Europeans are the future in regards to their talent…though they might be for the next decade as the credit crunch hits Iberia in a big way…it is that the academy system that Germany introduced is surely the system England should copy, especially when there will be millions of pounds worth of funding that will be thrown at every level of the FA by Nike as part of their new England sponsorship deal.
In Eden Hazard, Gooners will get a ‘look what you could’ve won’ moment
- Oliver Giroud finally scored. And whilst he had a penalty saved, it was a fantastic effort to get to a well struck spot-kick by Coventry’s Joe Murphy to deny him a brace. The start of many, we Gooners hope…
- Arsenal were watched in their romp by 58,351 punters who spent £10 a ticket to pack out a buzzing Emirates Stadium. Youth mixed with experience both on the pitch and in the stands. One imagines the tills in The Armoury and in the concession stands were ringing until midnight. Well done The Gunners.
- And now, for Chelsea…who many hope will be tired after fielding a strong side midweek…and a Mr J Terry who may not be at his fittest. In Eden Hazard, Gooners will get a ‘look what you could’ve won’ moment…