Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
Another great win in the Milk Cup for the Arsenal thanks to two crackers from Merida and Bendtner.
Though fatigue set in at the end, it was another feather in the cap for Wenger’s second string. It seems to happen every year, yet every year it still surprises me how much potential there is bubbling under the surface at the club.
My own man of the match would have gone to Ramsey for an eye-catching appearance in central midfield, though he wasn’t the only one to shine. Merida scored a great goal, Gibbs and Gilbert were tenacious, Senderos and Silvestre solid and it was good to see Nasri back too.
True to form, there was another chance for another player off the Arsenal production line – Craig Eastmond. He had a very encouraging debut before making way late in the game for Mark Randall.
It was a pretty even game, and certainly very entertaining, and I think Wenger got the balance between experience and inexperience spot on: Senderos, Silvestre, Nasri, Eduardo and Bendtner gave us a solid spine upon which Ramsey, Gibbs, Gilbert, Eastmond and Merida thrived.
Sanchez Watt came on too – to great applause from the same crowd who presumably also saw him slot one past WBA in the last round.
It was at times a hairy last ten minutes for a by-now wearying Arsenal, but it was interesting to note our players taking the ball into dead areas to kill time. It might not be the most elegant way to see a game out, but given the experience of the last two matches, I imagine they were under strict orders from above.
One lead thrown away is careless – two is criminal. What a third might have done ahead of a game that has ‘previous’ for calamitous losses of concentration doesn’t bear thinking about.
So have any of last night’s performances given Wenger food for thought for Saturday? Fabianski probably did enough to think he might get a chance – though with the goalkeeping situation being what it is, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see any one of Fabianski, Mannone and Almunia between the sticks. Take your pick.
Ramsey will certainly have a seat on the bench, but given his exertions tonight I can’t see him starting on Saturday, and the same goes for Nasri. What Wenger said the other day about the young Welshman being ready seems spot on – he offers real competition for Diaby and Denilson and is progressing fast. That can only be a good thing.
One of Bendtner or Eduardo might also get the nod, but otherwise it’s back to the day jobs for most of last night’s XI.
The derby countdown can now begin. The jangling nerves are on hold, but I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep them back.
More on that nearer the time.