After admitting he’s still haunted by the result of Arsenal’s last Carling Cup run, Arsène Wenger watched his side continue their passage through this years competition, after edging Bolton 2-1 at the Emirates.
In a tournament that Wenger still regards as some what of a play ground for young talent, it required his experienced heads to help guide the Gunners into the last eight, for the ninth consecutive time. As I wrote last night, Łukasz Fabiański, Thomas Vermaelen, Sébastien Squillaci, Yossi Benayoun, Andrey Arshavin and Park Chu-Young all started, and all proved their worth, against a Bolton side who were difficult to kill off.
Nico Yennaris slotted in at right back, and despite some early nerves, looked assured, composed and his usual aggressive self, turning in an almost faultless performance. The same couldn’t have been said for third round stars Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong, who were only good in patches, and were at the heart of a mix up which saw Fabrice Muamba thump home the opener.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Man of the Match against Shrewsbury, turned in a notably poor performance, so it was left to Arshavin and the always dangerous Chu-Young, to grab the goals to win the tie. At the other end, Vermaelen was the pick of a solid defensive display, while Miquel seemed comfortable at left back, but was rarely directly troubled.
After the experience had turned around the scoreline, Wenger handed another début out, this time to defender Danny Boateng, while Ryo Miyaichi and Oğuzhan Özyakup also joined the party. The latter two showed drive, energy and some glorious touches going forward, but tempered that with good tracking back and defending.
So, a place in the quarter finals. Arsenal will now almost certainly look to get all of tonight’s bench out on loan, with a more experienced focus set to come back for the latter stages.
Still, it’s been fun, and an introduction for many prospects. Now, they must prove they deserve more chances.