Elland Road 19th January 2011
Arsene Wenger once again shuffled the pack from his first choice team. He kept the best central defenders he has available, but changed Clichy for Gibbs and Sagna was back for Eboue at right back. Once again he played Denilson in midfield when better options are available. Denilson was rumoured to have criticized Arsenal’s on field leadership earlier in the week, I think he needs to worry about his own game, before commenting on anyone else. Wenger brought back Chamakh after a rest period and also selected Bendtner and Arshavin up front, two players out of favour with the Arsenal fans, if not the manager.
Arsenal started with their normal domination of possession and Nasri, Arsenal’s top scorer this season, slotted one home in the 6th minute. Arshavin, Bendtner and Chamakh all had good chances to score. Arshavin seemed to be working harder than he has of late, but his touch was still not at his best. Arsenal’s second goal came on 35 minutes from the most unlikely of sources with Bacary Sagna beating Schmeichel with a powerful long range shot. This was only Sagna’s third ever goal for Arsenal and did he ever enjoy it. Obviously feeling very good on his comeback, after a three match ban. But Leeds were able to reply almost straight away with an even longer range and more spectacular shot from Bradley Johnson, that beat Szczesny into the top corner.
The second half saw a more even spread of possession and more attacking opportunities for Leeds. With the score still at 2-1 to Arsenal on 70 minutes Wenger brought on his two marquee players, replacing Arshavin and Chamakh with Fabregas and Van Persie. Things changed almost immediately with Fabregas missing by inches from a free kick just outside the box. Minutes later Van Persie increased the lead, heading home a good cross from Bendtner.
Leeds became very frustrated in the dying minutes, picking up bookings and Kasper Schmeichel taking up a position in the Arsenal box for a corner. But he was unable to replicate his father’s feat, who scored in a Premier League match.
Leeds look a good side, at least on a par with some of the sides they may replace in the Premier League next season. And Schmeichel is a very good Keeper and could go on to become as good as his father. But Arsenal closed out the game 3-1 and go on to face Huddersfield Town in the next round.