No More Darren Bent, No More Excuses

Greetings Arsenalistas, from a bright if chilly Decem-- err, is it March already? Doesn't feel like it. That groundhog is full of shit. Anyway, much to discuss that isn't the Carling Cup; It's been said already, Sean had his postmortem done up on Monday, and for me the pain of it is too near. We're a resilient bunch here at the blog, but that one cut me deeply. And I never thought I'd care that much about the sodding League Cup.

In a strange turn of events, the Arsenal second XI that has played much against our lower league cup opposition were the ones to respond strongly, thrashing a resilient and admirable Orient side 5-0, including a Nicklas Bendtner hat trick, a purist's hat trick no less (three consecutive goals with no one else scoring in between, for the uninformed). Yet many of us still won't give the boy his due. Nick doesn't have nearly enough fans given what he does. He consistently scores abour 15 goals per season, has a flair for the dramatic (last-gasp strikes won our Hull away and Wolves home matches just last spring) and he loves the club. Frankly, I don't have as big a problem with his overconfidence, I like it. And to be fair, he did point out that he never said he was the best player in the world, just that he wants to become the best striker in the world. And what's wrong with that, really?

Additionally we saw Marouane Chamakh score for the first time in ages (might have been November, actually), so that should do him some good. I hope it does, since with Robin van Persie out until early- to mid-April, it's up to him and to Bendtner to lead the line in his absence. The fans in attendance were also treated to an occurrence as rare as a white guy who can rap: a Gael Clichy goal. His first and only other one came two seasons ago in a loss at Stoke, and that one ping-ponged around a few times from his strike to its settling in the net. This one was a bit more clinical, and for Clichy it was superhuman. Eboue's cross found its way across the Orient box, and seeing Clichy about to hit it at goal, I thought to myself in that split-second, "Well if it doesn't go in, it'll be good for a laugh." It both went in, miraculously, and was good for a laugh, as Clichy stood still, unable to know what to do until Samir Nasri came over to celebrate with him. He gets a pass though, as it's been over 2 years since he last scored, and in that one we were already 2 goals down with no time to pat himself on the back. Meanwhile, Eboue has 73 dances to choose from the next time he find the net.

I feel I must mention that Abou Diaby absolutely bossed the midfield for 70 minutes with all of his passes being successful, which means he's certainly above League One level. All joking aside he played very well, and it was another nice performance from youngster Ignasi Miquel at CB, as well as a fine debut from young Irish winger Conor Henderson, who although seeming to go missing at times, played well as a deeper winger and fired some lovely crosses in from the left. Finally, all credit to Orient and their support, the 9,000 of whom stayed and sang for the duration. Although it must be said, since Orient only average about 3,000 in attendance, where these "long-suffering" and "dedicated" fans have been? Certainly not to Brisbane Road, it would seem.

All the talk is of Barcelona again, foolishly I would say. We've already dropped points to Sunderland once this season; failure to focus on the Black Cats tomorrow would be an injustice. Injury record remains spotty for Arsenal: RVP, Cesc, Song and Theo will all miss out, as well as Thomas Vermaelen, who will be back in 2-3 weeks, just like it was in August. Perhaps more importantly for Arsenal, Sunderland are without the Gunners' bane, having sold Darren Bent to Villa in January. We're at home against wounded opposition, a bit toothless without any striker but for Asamoah Gyan, and I'm pretty sure he can't score unless the opposing team includes at least one American. Additionally, thanks to Chelsea topping United midweek, we have a chance now to close the gap with United to just one point. Given all these motivating factors, we should win, but a sense of foreboding tells me "We've been here before. Expect a draw."

Dickish subconscious predictions aside, we ought to have enough to take three points tomorrow. We ought to. Arsenal never make it easy though, do they? Oh to be a Gooner. It's going to be a cloudy weekend; let's hope we make it through with three precious points. But it's not all bad news: Koscielny has recovered from his injury (which I can only assume is a euphemism for massive cock-up) to return to the side, and on the bench and perhaps making his Arsenal return from injury is Aaron Ramsey! If that doesn't get you up for this, nothing will. Here's to a glut of early goals for Arsenal, a run-out for Rambo, and three points to the Arsenal!


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