Spurs 1 v Arsenal 4 (aet)

The sense of injustice felt by Arsene Wenger in accepting the FA’s misconduct charge must have been transmitted to his thoughts on the team selection for the Gunners visit to Spurs. In a break with tradition, Wenger elected to pick a stronger side than is his custom for the Carling Cup, and oh how his players majestically rewarded that judgement. In crushing Spurs 4-1 at White Hart Lane, Wenger let loose the creative instincts of Samir Nasri through the middle, and his two injury time penalties effectively ruled out this tie as a contest.

Given the level of football from the Gunners, that it took extra-time to progress to the fourth round is something of a mystery, but as Henri Lansburi netted on fifteen minutes from Jack Wilshere’s cross, you just knew it would be Arsenal’s night.

Melody

Robbie Keane levelling soon after the re-start merely served as a further injustice – with the scores at 1-1 after 90 minutes – as the Arsenal players, had controlled, passed and moved in the most harmonious of melodies. That sweet melody became all the sweeter when Sebastien Bassong brought down Nasri seconds into the first period of extra-time. Up stepped the France midfielder to calmly send ‘keeper Stipe Pletikosa the wrong way, and you wondered why Nasri did not take that penalty at Sunderland. No matter now as the large travelling Arsenal contingent went wild with excitement, and a new song ” Samir Nasri, Samir Nasri, na na na na, ” was born.

Deja Vu

Four minutes later and it really was a case of deja vu. Once again it was the pace and quick thinking of substitute Andrey Arshavin’s pass that caught Spurs cold. This time however, it was fellow substitute Marouane Chamakh who was impeded by Steven Caulker and referee Lee Probert once again pointed to the spot. And once again, Nasri converted the penalty, again sending Pletikosa the wrong way, but in the opposite direction to his first strike. Cue more of the vocal chanting of the new ” Samir Nasri song.”

Rifle

So far removed from proceedings in the directors box, Wenger sat emotionless, but nevertheless in huge satisfaction of the football Arsenal were playing and the confidence he has continually placed in this team. Arshavin’s evening was not over just yet. He was brought down deep in the Spurs half, and the quick thinking Gael Clichy who had just come on for Kierran Gibbs caught the home side cold with a pass that fed the Russian who then went on to rifle low and hard into the Spurs net.

By that stage White Hart Lane resembled a ghost town as the Spurs fans left in their droves and the Arsenal fans started to have their fun. David Bentley had earlier seen a header clip the outside of Lukasz Fabianski’s upright, but the chant ” Bentley, Bentley what’s the score ?” went up to huge ironic jeers, and then to be followed by ” It’s so quiet at the lane.”

Cult Status

Wilshere continues to grow and ooze confidence that will surely make it hard for Wenger to leave out of the starting eleven, and that too is the case for Gibbs, who limped off here late in the game. Emmanuel Eboue enjoyed another fine game and his cult status at the Emirates just continues to grow. In accepting the FA’S misconduct charge, Wenger was not only banned from the touchline for this match, but also fined £ 8,000. His feelings will be that that amount was a small price to pay to witness the football he and the Arsenal fans had just enjoyed.