With their perpetual inclination towards ‘attacking’ football, Arsenal have always found it difficult to bring a perfect balance between the flamboyant side of their football and the ever-so-important ‘defensive side’. After having to endure many trophy-less seasons, the Gunners have finally found a new modus operandi of doing things. They have finally learnt doing things the ‘hard way’, or shall we dare to say, doing things in an ‘Un-Arsenal-like’ way. Compared to the previous seasons, the North London giants have done quite alarmingly well ‘down the road’. They have, in fact, played better away from home than at the fortress of The Emirates.
Solid at Ewood Park
Blackburn Rovers 1 – 2 Arsenal
Arsenal would travel to Ewood Park to play a Blackburn Rovers side managed by none-other-than Sam Allardyce, who in the mid-2000’s quite successfully explored the chink in Arsenal’s armor with his resilient Bolton side. This was another impending acid test and unremitting rains greeted the Gunners on a Saturday evening in late August.
Starting off quite sharp, Arsenal looked most likely to go ahead among the two teams. As expected, a Robin Van Persie threaded through ball found the onrushing Theo Walcott, the latter burying it past Robinson giving Arsenal a deserved lead in the early minutes of the game. The ‘Senegalese Miscreant’ El Hadji Diouf would equalize moments later to bring back parity into the game. Arsenal would defend for the next hour with tremendous steel, attacking players often falling back and doing their defensive duties. Andrei Arshavin, in the dying minutes would make sure that Arsenal travel back home with full points. With that victory, Arsenal would start a ‘new journey of belief down the road’.
Almost a revenge at White Hart Lane
Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 4 Arsenal
Having lost to their North London rivals by conceding five goals not so long ago, Arsenal would have had to ‘pull the strings’ as they faced a relatively young Spurs side at White Hart Lane in the fourth round of Carling Cup. Not in accordance with Wenger’s ‘Youth-policy for Carling Cup’, the manager fielded a strong side against his nearest rivals. Arsenal would start really strong, making their intent quite clear about the Carling Cup this season. A neat interchange of play between Rosicky and Wilshere would result in the latter’s cross thumped into the net by young Henri Lansbury. Arsenal, ‘up and running’ within 15 minutes at The Lane! Though the visitors would dominate for most of the first half, the score line would still stay the same. An introduction of Robbie Keane in the second period would bring life and even an equalizing goal for Spurs. The match, tightly contested, would go into extra-time where Samir Nasri’s two penalties and Arshavin’s late strike would seal the deal for Arsenal.
“Shall we make a DVD?” – The traveling fans would sing in reference to Tottenham’s habit of releasing collector’s win against their rivals.
A thrashing win at the city of Manchester
Manchester City 0 – 3 Arsenal
Traveling to Manchester and coming back with full points would be as hard a task as asking Emmanuel Adebayor to act humane. Arsenal, after having lost to Chelsea a few days back, had to show they were ‘genuine title contenders’ and this was a massive match for them. With Dedryck Boyata’s sending off within the first five minutes of the match, the daunting task would look quite attainable. A tasty one-two between Arshavin and Nasri would get Arsenal the first lead as the Frenchman would continue with his rich vein of form.
The Arsenal Back-Line would defend incredibly against the likes of David Silva and Carlos Tevez and Lukas Fabianski would do his reputation no harm by pulling off some superb saves. Alex Song, meanwhile would give Arsenal a two-goal lead with a smashing hit from inside the box and a Nicklas Bendtner strike in the dying minutes, when the hosts would already be tired and toothless, would give very important three points to Arsenal. Another important battle won, matches Arsenal failed to win in the past!
Even the Team-B can do it – St James’ Park
Newcastle United 0 – 4 Arsenal
Arsenal, with their superb away form in the league, would never look like dropping points against an experienced side at St James’ Park in a Carling Cup affair. The hosts fielding a second-tier side, keeping ‘The Derby’ match in mind, never looked convincing enough to beat Arsenal that night. A brace from Theo Walcott, a sad own goal and another from Bendtner would take Arsenal to the next round of the Cup. The Center Back pairing of Djourou and Koscielny would be rock-solid, bailing out Arsenal from occasional attacks. In the eighth successive year of the Carling Cup Quarter-Finals and with many big names already out, Arsenal would never get a better chance to steal this particular prize.
Fabianski’s rebirth and hunting the Wolves
Wolves 0 – 2 Arsenal
After consecutive defeats in Europe and in the league, The Gunners would travel to The Molineux in a ‘must-win’ game. Wolves, already having troubled Chelsea and Manchester United in the recent past, being a unforgiving pack of footballers, life would not be easy for the traveling party. To everybody’s surprise, Arsenal would go ahead as early as the 1st minute, a measured Song cross and a timely leaping header from Chamakh would give Arsenal the head-start.
For the next 90 minutes, Arsenal would defend like mad men making Karl Rappan turn in his grave. They would bring most of their men back while defending and ‘lock the door’ on Kevin Doyle and co., writing a new Arsenal Selfish Act 2010-11’. In the middle of everything, Lukas Fabianski would assert himself as Arsenal’s number one, making a string of fine saves, which would easily be reagrded as his best performance till-date. Marouane Chamakh would finally put a nail on the coffin with a strike in the 90th minute, bringing home the much-needed three points.
A mean act at Goodison
Everton 1 – 2 Arsenal
Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have had already failed to return home from Goodison with full points, it was Arsenal’s turn now. The ‘away’ team, in effervescent colors and high spirits, would take hold of proceedings right away keeping the boisterous crowd quiet in the initial minutes of the match. With some good work from Nasri and Arshavin, Bacary Sagna, in all his five years at Arsenal, would get his chance to score only his second goal for the club, which would be a thumping drive past the first post of Tim Howard. Cesc Fabregas, after the break, would take the lead to two goals, with a sweetly taken first-time shot past the right side of the diving keeper. Then the ‘Arsenal Selfish Act 2010-11’ would start functioning again, as the entire team would get back and help their back four to get away from dicey situations. As Everton would throw men and crosses towards Arsenal’s goal, the visitors would get even more firm and unwavering, clearing away dangerous balls and tackling their way to glory. A late goal from Cahill would give the home side some hope but a resolute Arsenal team, gritty as ever, would sweep full points and fame away from the Blue half of Merseyside.