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Arsenal Versus Forest: Keeping The Plates Spinning

league-cup-61-villa

I’ve just discovered what EFL actually stands for. I’d long since given up paying too much attention to all the names by which the League Cup has styled itself. I never warmed to the Milk Cup, Littlewoods Cup nor the Rumbelows Cup, and by the time Coca-Cola got on board I’d had it with the corporate name changes and just stuck the the good old fashioned League Cup. So when I first saw EFL I assumed it was probably some multi national energy conglomerate or Chinese baby food manufacturer and, like a man at a buffet table who reaches a tray of undercooked and rapidly cooling eggs, I moved swiftly on.

You may readily imagine my surprise on discovering that, far from the Ezhou First-foods Laboratories or Energie Für Leben corporation, EFL simply stands for English Football League. Why then, given this simple return to a football based name, could they not have simply called the bloody thing the League Cup? Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

This is a competition which has always ruffled the feathers. Born a only couple of years before I was it was conceived as a consolation prize for those knocked out of the FA Cup. As such it has always been a poor relation to its illustrious forebear and occupied a similar place in the football hierarchy as the Europa League does today. Worth winning yes, but very much the silver medal contest. In fact clubs often disdained even to take part, until compelled to in the 1971-72 season. The ‘big’ clubs, an amorphous description if ever there was one, only really sat up and took any notice of it when the final moved to Wembley and the winners were guaranteed a place in European competition.

So when anyone suggests that Arsenal are disrespecting a venerable competition by fielding a second or even third string team you may blow a long, wet and noisome raspberry at them. When launched back in the early sixties the average attendance at League Cup games was about that of a third division match. I don’t actually believe that Arsène disrespects any competition. In fact I’m not entirely sure an imaginary construct such as a football tournament can be disrespected. It can’t exactly take offence can it? In any event our manager is competitive by nature, prizing winners above all other sportsmen and would want to win every match, every competition in which his side takes part.

I enjoy the League Cup enormously. There is slightly less pressure around it and given the presence of fringe players and ebullient youth we have been treated to many exciting matches during Arsène’s reign. I always want us to make it to the final if for no other reason than to see the likes of Jeff, Noddy Holding, Chuba and Ospina get a good run of games. Also it is the perfect opportunity to settle new faces into the first team away from the intensity of the Premier League.

Tonight we travel to the City Ground Nottingham where we’ll face, among others, one of our old League Cup alumni, Henri Lansbury. Lansbury’s most famous moment came when he scored against the Tiny Totts in the 2010 iteration of the competition and I confess to thinking that surely here was a future star of the Arsenal first team. His, and the experience of many others before and since, is not merely a salutary warning to those of us who think we can see into a young player’s future. It also serves as a timely reminder as to just how breathtakingly good the likes of Hector and Alex Iwobi are to make it through from the youth teams to the first.

Raw talent is not enough. Scoring against frail and second rate opposition like Spurs in a third rate tournament is not enough. The blend of composure, skill, strength and whatever the magic X factor is which only Arsène can see are so rare that it is incredibly difficult to correctly predict which of the youngsters will go on to make the grade. Given our increased muscle in the transfer market, the gap through which they must squeeze has now become even more narrow.

So my advice is to enjoy watching the kids that manage to make it into the League Cup side and don’t bother looking too much farther ahead. This may be the only night or the only season they get to shine for us and so we should take their performances at face value and not project too much of a future for them. Of course, given the depth of our squad and the quality of players who cannot even be guaranteed a place on the subs bench these days there may not be too many fresh faces in the first eleven anyway.

What of our opponents tonight? Managed by Philippe Montanier, after eight Championship matches they suffer the indignity of sitting below the second best team in Bristol. They are, on their day, a free scoring side who have racked up eleven goals in the three league games they’ve won this season. They won both of their previous League Cup matches away from home and, despite setbacks at Brighton and Brentford, should not be underestimated.

Montanier has come under some criticism for his policy of rotation having used more players than any other Championship manager so far this season. While I accept that a settled first eleven which can build real and deep understandings all over the pitch is as important an element in a winning team as any other, I believe that in the modern game learning to manage and employ a big squad is a vital skill. With playing staff pushed to the absolute peak of fitness injuries seem almost inevitable. With so many matches being played and at such a ferocious pace players have to be rested in order to maximise their potential. It’s a balancing act and keeping all those plates spinning is the lot of the modern manager.

Apart from Henri Lansbury another familiar name on the Forest books is Armand Traore. Still only twenty six, Traore was another League Cup player from our academy who never quite bridged the gap to the top level. Oh and there is one other you may remember. Six feet four inches tall, twenty eight years old,  former star of both Tårnby Boldklub and Kjøbenhavns Boldklub, Danish international, top knot wearing, tattooed, hat-trick scoring star of one of our greatest ever League Cup triumphs, the five nil drubbing of Leyton Orient. I speak of none other than Lord Bendtner of Copenhagen.

Love him or really love him, I will always remember with great fondness his winner against Spurs after coming on as a substitute way back in 2007. He high fived Emmanuel Eboué, trotted into the penalty area and scored with a Roy Of The Rovers header. Timed at 1.8 seconds (the clock only started ticking when the corner was taken) it remains the fastest ever goal from a substitute.

Well, that’s enough from me. Enjoy the fun and games if you can, I’m not sure who if anyone is screening the match. I have a band practice tonight so will be going dark until the highlights are posted online. Ciao for now Positivistas.

 

 

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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72 comments on “Arsenal Versus Forest: Keeping The Plates Spinning

  1. FT: 4-0 to the Arsenal

    Xhaka, Lucas 2(1 pen), Oxlade-Chamberlain

    some fine passing football from Arsenal, always in control, Maitland-Niles might have done enough to end Debuchy’s time at afc, debut for c willock, Gabriel with his first game of the season, as it was too for Martinez in goal. Another calm defensive display from Holding, and Gibbs had a fine game, he was captain of the side too. Elneny full of energy once again, and Xhaka with another thunderstrike. Ox had an off day, but kept at it, and in the final ten minutes he was flying, and then in injury time he scored a fine goal. Akpom done well in an unfamiliar wide left role, and won the penalty. Lucas with 2 goal and an assist, his goal from play very cool and calm, smooth. Zelalem looked totally at his ease in his ten minutes or so on the pitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another flukey win against obviously second rate opposition assisted by a dodgy referee. And don’t start me off on the perverse starting line up.

    I have no idea how we get away with it week after week. I really, really don’t.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Oh all right then

    I quite enjoyed it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “against the run of play” they said? WTF?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. AET: AFC Bournemouth 2 – 3 Preston North End

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  6. The bias is ingrained at the beeb, George. And in other news Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. WENGER ON THE WIN, XHAKA AND BELIEF

    Arsène Wenger was a happy man after his side beat Nottingham Forest in the third round of the EFL Cup on Tuesday night. This is what he had to say:

    on the result…
    We got there in the end but the game was tough, Nottingham Forest played with full commitment. We needed to be patient and as well not to concede a goal – which we did well. Overall I felt that technically we played well, our combinations worked well and we played at a high pace and that’s where we made the difference in the game.

    on Xhaka’s goal…
    We suffered in the first 20 minutes a little bit and that goal helped us. After that I think everybody was focused to play the way we want to play football, sharp movement of the ball, great mobility in our team, always quick to move the ball and overall it was a convincing performance. We had some young players who did well and Lucas scored as well so overall it’s a positive night.

    on summer signings scoring the goals…
    Honestly, for me the most important is that we win the game, not who scores – it’s not so important. Individually, it’s good because he can convince people that he has the level to play for us and it will help himself as well to grow in belief.

    on learning from last season’s defeat at Sheffield Wednesday…
    I told the players that last year in the third round of the League Cup we won at Tottenham and then we went to Sheffield Wednesday and lost 3-0 because we were not ready mentally for the commitment of the Championship and I think our history helped us a little bit tonight to start in a much stronger way.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160920/wenger-on-the-win-xhaka-and-belief?#2otf3fdYBCSoj5GH.99

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  8. ‘LUCAS SHOWED HIS INTELLIGENCE’

    Arsène Wenger was full of praise for Lucas after the Spanish striker scored his first goals for the club in the EFL Cup third-round victory at Nottingham Forest.
    This is what he had to say:

    on Perez’s confidence now…
    Of course, a striker is always growing when he scores goals and I felt that he has shown tonight – I liked his second goal because it was not only technique but it was determination, to fight for the ball and finish, I liked as well the part he played in the goal of Oxlade-Chamberlain because it shows that he can combine with other people and that he is an intelligent player.

    on Perez’s second goal…
    He’s quick, he’s determined, he uses well his left foot – a bit too much for my taste, and not enough his right foot, but overall he’s like all left-footed players.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160920/-lucas-showed-his-intelligence-?#7KVjwEBXOdIP5vGd.99

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  9. Sometimes, I think some of the WOB would only appreciate Wenger if in some parallel world, he did what he did…..and does what he does …..for Tottenham

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Just back from Nottingham. Met up with “Out for the Corner” (Twitter) and saw the Arsenal. Lucas Perez is sturdy fellow, much like a middle weight boxer.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. A very good nights’ work from Arsenal’s B/C team.

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  12. Please give us more of a review of the match tomorrow GP.

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  13. Ah, 5-7 v Reading. The last away at home I attended, and whilst there were unhappy noises from our fans towards the players at both sides of the half time whistle, my biding memory is of being bent over double, my sides splitting – from the “enthusiastic” support from the young Ars fans.

    They rushed, some bare chested, with arms outstretched, singing:
    “We’re gonna win 5-4”, when we were 4 down.
    “That’s why your going down”, throughout.

    My mate tried to move me onto the stairs near the 90 minute mark but I wasn’t having it. Then Theo scored, 4-4. Pande-****ing-modium! Extra time. The rest is clichés.
    I had a video camera with me but I couldn’t use it due to laughing so much.

    Mind you, I noticed Djourou and the Denchman (among others) had horrible games, and the ref, well…

    I drove back down to London – sitting in a jam on the motorway, which surely – Berkshire County Council has scheduled for repairs just to piss us all off. (They could’ve done the repairs during the following morn’s rush hour. I wouldn’t have minded). But that couldn’t dampen my spirits.

    Strangely, the mate I went with hasn’t invited me to another match since, at least, not with me sitting next to him. (I think he’s a not too closet WOB-man, who’s been fortunate/hard working enough to be a long-time season ticket(s) holder, and doesn’t like my undying support for Everything Arsenal, and my undying belief that the refs are out to get us). No-one gonna stop me loving Arsenal. God, my team were pretty crap when I started supporting them. Look at them for the last couple of decades.

    Reading 5-7 Arsenal. I’ll have that high in my memory bank – forever.

    COYG

    Liked by 5 people

  14. DC, I think you hit the spot with your 10:36.

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  15. I only watched the first 30 minutes and since there was no regular tv coverage out here in the west couldn’t do any recording. Just dodgy streams.

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  16. Mills…thanks for those clips. Great memories.

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  17. Like Chuba’s attitude (or ability to stick to his media script depending how cynical I’m feeling) happy to play in any position, delighted to be pulling on an Arsenal shirt. That’s what we want to hear.

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  18. Steww, that’s a disturbing gravatar……

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Says the man with a roaring Gorilla.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Chelsea played 120 minutes at high intensity against Leicester City away last night.
    Sadly there were no signs of injures or additional cards for them.
    Cesc and Costa played, who are the two most dangerous players for us to be concerned about next Saturday.

    Like

  21. Didn’t watch game but seems a remarkably positive result.

    None of Saturday’s eleven, plus Giroud, Ramsey, Debuchy, Per, Ospina, able to loan out Wilshere, Szcz, Chambers, Campbell, and we win 4-0 in a tough match.

    Depth is excellent now.

    As for the youngsters and following on from Steww’s wise advice not to get carried away, how about this team from 8 years ago

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/league_cup/7626710.stm

    I don’t remember my thinking at the time but I bet I was very carried away. Hardly a sad tale, as i think 8 went on to be full internationals but, still, impossible to predict the career’s that have unfolded since.

    70th minute sub will be kicking shit out of us in 8 years. 71st will be having a night off in preparation for a huge game at the weekend.

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  22. New Post up

    Like

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