Sunday, February 20, 2011

Leyton Orient 1 - Arsenal 1

Once again, Arsenal fail to put away a minnow in a cup tie. Arsene Wenger fielded a weakened side in what should have been a walk-over in the 5th round FA Cup tie at Leyton Orient. After a boring first half, the Gunners took the lead fairly early in the second half, when Tomas Rosicky headed (yes, headed) in a cross from Nicklas Bendtner. From that point on, the Gunners mostly acted like the game was in the bag; and, indeed, Leyton Orient only rarely mounted any kind of threat. But a single act of brilliance by Leyton Orient substitute Jonathon Tahoue split the Arsenal defence and slotted the ball below a slow-to-react Miguel Almunia to tie the match, and force a replay at the Emirates.

In fact, the Gunners were fortunate not to lose the game. Leyton would likely have scored a few minutes before Tahoue's goal but for defender Sebastian Squillace's face, which got in the way of a powerful shot from inside the penalty box.

Once again, Arsene Wenger gambled that a weakened and relatively inexperienced side could push Arsenal though against weak competition; and once again he was disappointed, as Arsenal wind up with another game on their schedule that they neither need nor want. They will, of course, destroy Leyton Orient in the replay at the Emirates. But it will be one more game to get through as the Gunners are fighting to win silverware in four competitions (the Premier League, the Champion's League, the Carling Cup, and the FA Cup).

Overall, today's game was only slightly less dull than I had expected. For the most part, it served as viewing fodder while I spun easy on the trainer, trying to work out the kinks from yesterday's long ride.

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