A Comeback to Remember and Theo ThoughtsBy: Felegy | November 1st, 2012
Okay, I will start off by apologizing for the blogging team being MIA for what might be one of the most exciting Arsenal games in recent memory (even if it was just the kiddie cup). I hope some of you were able to watch the game as it truly was a memorable one, but more on that in just a bit.
Since our last entry we have squeaked out a 1-0 win against QPR, with a somewhat controversial goal I might add. I’m not going to dwell too much but I will say that we again (like against Norwich & Schalke) looked pretty awful going forward. It looked as if there was not a goal to be had for the Gunners until the scrambled Arteta goal that gave us the eventual win. You can say, “A win is a win” and I would agree. I would go a little further and say that a decisive win is still a bit better. Our win against QPR was anything but decisive. We will need to play much better this weekend in our next EPL match if we are going to take any points.
So the boss had two days to pick a squad to take on Reading in the Cap1 Cup. He obviously made some drastic changes, including many of our younger players and fringe players in the starting 11. The likes of Chamakh, Djourou, Walcott, and Arshavin all got starts along with youngsters like Miguel, Gnabry, and Frimpong. The squad looked like they had never played together and subsequently went down 4-0 in the first 40 minutes! Koscielny is going to take a lot of blame (as he should) for the first two goals; losing his marker and scoring an own goal. I give credit to him for keeping his head up and playing much better in the second half though.
I was at work watching at my desk (shhhhh) and was very close to shutting it down and eliminating another trophy from our possible grasp. I decided to at least finish out the half and go from there. Walcott got us one back just before halftime with a nice break (down the middle I might add) and classy finish chipping over the oncoming keeper. 4-1 down going into halftime, shit. I’m not sure why I continued to watch in the second half as I really did not feel that a comeback was in the cards, I guess I just really didn’t feel like working! Needless to say, the second half was completely different. Arsenal started to look like Arsenal.
Wenger brought on Giroud and he had an immediate impact scoring a classy header from a corner to make it 4-2. Okay, maybe there is something to this I thought. But our momentum slowed at this point and Reading settled back into the game a bit. The optimism that I was feeling the in the 65th minute was long gone by the 85th being down 4-2 still. With just a minute left in regular time Koscielny got some redemption and headed home another Arsenal goal from a corner. 4-3 but with very little time left, only 5 minutes of stoppage time. With the seconds ticking away, a hopeful ball was played into the Reading box and somehow it fell to the feet of one Theo Walcott, our most threatening player throughout the game. His shot trickled past the keeper and looked to be cleared off the line, Jenkinson was right there to make it a no doubter and thump it home. As it turns out it wasn’t needed as Theo’s first attempt did barely cross the line. All square at 4-4, holy crap.
We obviously had the momentum going into extra time and had a good amount of possession throughout the first half of extra time. With a few minutes left Chamakh would put us ahead; yep good old rooster head was able to find the back of the net for the first time in ages. I must say that it was a pretty solid finish creating space for himself with his first touch and fake shot before firing home from the edge of the box. But the drama wasn’t done yet as reading would find a fifth goal in the late stages of the second half of extra time to tie it 5-5. Arsenal was not going to let this one go to penalties though. Walcott would again get a late crucial goal with just minutes left to put us ahead. Chamakh would then put the game out of reach with a breakaway chip over the reading keeper. 7-5 to the Arsenal. Wow. Just wow.
First off, I probably almost lost my job for screaming out loud on multiple occasions for what must have seemed like no apparent reason. Thankfully the office was pretty damn empty due to that pesky hurricane that dumped a sizable pine tree on my roof. Second, I will never bash the Carling/Cap1/Kiddie Cup ever again after watching this game. The Chelsea v. ManU game the following day was damn exciting as well. So kudos to the Capital One cup for having an incredibly exciting couple of midweek games. Third, what the hell should we do about Theo Walcott?
He was the difference against Reading, no doubt. Without his impact we could have lost this game 6-0 or 5-1 very easily. With very little time lefty in the first half he could have been lazy and jogged into halftime. Instead he makes a cutting central run to be recognized by Arshavin leading to our first goal and some momentum going into halftime. Can you have momentum down 4-1!? I guess so. He worked his ass off throughout the entire 120 minutes, was always our most threatening player, and was rewarded with a hat trick. All this from a player that has had a hard time finding any substantial playing time in the league. So it obviously begs the question; what does this mean for Theo moving forward?
I have never been a huge Walcott fan and have always found his game to be fairly one dimensional. A few weeks ago I would have said to let him leave as he could be easily replaced with another pacey winger. Our lack of scoring prowess in recent games coupled with this inspiring performance against Reading has changed my mind (a bit). I still don’t think he deserves a crazy pay raise in his next contract but I feel we should do our best to keep him around. He has shown much improved finishing and his runs off the ball are improving as well. Why suffer through years of development on a player only to let him go elsewhere when he starts to shine? I think Theo provides a different option than any other player in the squad right now and is obviously a threat to score goals. With goals being a hard thing to find of late, Theo needs to be in the lineup more often.
So we head into the weekend on quite a high. Good, because we have to play Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday. If that’s not bad enough, we will see RiP lining up against us for the first time in a ManSpew jersey. Prepare yourselves fellow gooners; he is going to get a goal against us.
Let’s just hope that it’s not a decisive one. A win over ManUre would follow up this historic comeback quite well. Don’t count on seeing Theo in the starting 11 though, that dude has to be completely gassed after the work he put in on Tuesday. I see him coming off the bench and making the difference for us. One can hope right!?