Sheff Utd 0 Arsenal 3 (Eduardo 8, 50, Denilson 69)
It was as easy at Bramall Lane last night as the scoreline suggests. With the entire eleven changed from the weekend’s impressive performance at Liverpool, and playing on a ground where the seniors lost in the league last season, you could imagine that the tie would be tricky, at least.
But it wasn’t. In fact, it was like a training match, an embarrassingly one sided ‘contest’. While the Championship side began reasonably, they lacked a cutting edge, and the Croatian Eduardo, revelling in a rare start, showed exactly what he could do, picking up Bendtner’s excellent crossfield pass to fire home from 25 yards, the ball flashing beyond the keeper barely before he could move. Ironic that the defender was encouraging him to do exactly that.
The rest of the first half passed without further goals, although the Arsenal domination was complete. The play was reminiscent of the first team from last season – great up until the final third, and then a little too clever at the end. Hopefully this group will learn the same way their predecessors have.
Walcott missed one good chance, slicing wide, before Eduardo added his second soon after the break, latching on to Kieran Gibbs’ through ball to slot coolly past the keeper. It was an assured finish, while the ball to him from young Gibbs was indicitive of his impressive display.
The Croatian admirably ignored the petulance of Chris Morgan, the bleater, who sent him flying well after the ball had hit the net for the second time, in a moment slightly reminiscent of Andy Todd’s whacking of Van Persie a few years ago. Completely unnecessary and the sign of a very bad loser.
Theo then rounded the keeper and hit the post, before Denilson neatly scored from outside the box, thanks in part to a deflection from Morgan’s mouthpiece – his backside. Youngsters Lansbury, Merida and Barazite all got a taste of the action towards the end.
A special mention must be made of Gilberto, who, despite rather strangely being overlooked for the captaincy in favour of Fabianski, put in an admirable and professional display, clearing one shot off the line late on to preserve the clean sheet. No fuss, no public complaints, just getting on with the job. Take note Jens.
Elsewhere, other than the excellent Eduardo, Diarra was supreme on the right, and must be pushing hard for Eboue’s place in the team. While more defensive than the Ivorian, his tenacity is contagious.
So overall, it was a very relaxing evening of football, and now the quarter finals will be contested between eight Premiership sides. Bring them on, I say.
With a weekend away, I will be taping the United game on Saturday (I’m at a wedding that happens at the exact same time), so I’m setting myself the challenge of avoiding the details for 24 hours. Fat chance.
Enjoy the game, it should be a belter.