Our 12th game unbeaten saw us into the quarter final of the League Cup (Or whatever the competition is now called). With either Man City or Man U, and West Ham or Chelsea set to exit the competition tonight, a cheeky trip to Wembley on 26 February 2017 could be on the cards.
Emiliano Martinez put in a solid performance in goal. I saw him play a few years back in the 7-5 defeat of Reading in the same competition, and he was all over the place. Now 24, he looks to be developing into a decent 2nd string goal keeper. Add in that he is home grown, he has certainly put his name in the hat to deputise for Petr Cech next season if David Ospina leaves the club.
It was good for Carl Jenkinson to get 90 minutes under his belt having been out for 9 months with injury. He clearly loves the club, and is a popular lad. It will be good for him to now quick on and put Hector Bellerin under a bit of pressure for the right back spot.
“Unfortunately no one speaks about the performance of Rob Holding. You should be happy, he is English and 20 years old. I am sorry he didn’t cost £55 million, so he can’t be good.” That was Arsene Wenger back in August. 2 months on and most will agree we have a player on our hands. You have to be careful not to overhype, like what happened with Calum Chambers, but as the minute, at £2million, Holding is looking like a steal.
A few more youngsters also put in bright performances. Ainsley Maitland-Harriott was quietly effective in the middle of the park. A good defensive midfielder is one is rarely seen. Who gets on with his work efficiently. And Niles certainly did that. This boy is talented. He has the stature and passing ability to become a top central midfielder. He just needs to ignore his mum.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide also looked silky. He was sometimes guilty of holding on to the ball too long, but he was continually on the front foot.
Finally Alex Oxlade-Chamberlainwas the two goal hero, and put in a performance in the League Cup you would expect him too. Surrounded by youngsters, playing against weakened opposition, he stood up to be counted for. He was the stand out player on the pitch and has certainly given Arsene Wenger something to think about for this weekend.
I hate people who go out of their way to find something to moan about in a victory. We won 2-0 and are through to the next round of the cup, blooding some youths along the way. Those that sit there and moan clearly have an agenda and an inability to enjoy a win.
But there is space for constructive criticism. And today that is aimed at Lucas Perez.
It was an odd performance by the Spaniard. He looked off the pace, not match sharp, but that is exactly where he is in his Arsenal career. Someone who is not yet ready. This was just his 2nd start for Arsenal, alongside a handful of minutes coming off the bench.
His link up play was poor, the play often broke down when it got to him. A few times, when presented with the opportunity to put a team mate in, he played a poor pass and the move broke down. Compare this to Olivier Giroud who, when he came on, slotted straight back in bringing others into play.
Perez looked better in the 2nd half, a mazy run led to a chance. But he is so one footed as a player, this will make him predictable in the Premier League.
Another to have a poor game was Mohamed Elneny. He struggled with simple passes, and after a poor performance against Boro at the weekend, and with Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka ahead of him, Aaron Ramsey returning, he might struggle for game time in the coming weeks.
Reading put in some robust challenges. One of which ended Lucas Perez’s game. The moan is the change of rules.
After Grant Xhaka was sent off against Swansea, everyone found some new rule that was introduced this summer about it being a red card when a player makes no attempt to win the ball. Well, Reading did that on numerous occasions last night and came away from the game with just 2 bookings.
All we ask for as fans is consistency. And we do not seem to be getting that.
Onto Sunderland away. A long old trip up north.