Arsenal vs. Coventry City: 6 Things We Learned from FA Cup 4th Round
Arsenal have cruised into the FA Cup fifth round after they beat Coventry City 4-0 at the Emirates Stadium. The returning Lukas Podolski scored twice before Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud were sprung from the bench to finish out the scoring against the League One side.
The Gunners cantered into an easy 2-0 lead with great thanks to the predatory Podolski. They completely outplayed Steven Pressley's team in a very one-sided first half.
The visitors gave a much better account of themselves in the second period and should have reduced the deficit when Leon Clarke hit the base of the post with Lukasz Fabianski beaten.
Just as Coventry were beginning to put the match on an even keel, Arsene Wenger took the very disappointing Nicklas Bendtner off for Cazorla. The little Spaniard was the very last player the Sky Blues would have wanted to face in the final 20 minutes.
Giroud was introduced as Podolski made way and Gedion Zelalem made his Arsenal debut at just 16 years of age.
Cazorla and Giroud both scored to put a gloss on a game that was perhaps cruel to Coventry.
Here, Bleacher Report offers six things we learned from Arsenal vs. Coventry City in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Lukas Podolski Is Such a Dangerous Player
Lukas Podolski was returned to the team as Arsene Wenger—quite rightly—gave Santi Cazorla a much-earned rest.
When Podolski last played, he was utilized as a centre-forward against Cardiff City. The German international put in an abysmal performance. It was only when Nicklas Bendtner came on that Arsenal were able to put daylight between themselves and the Bluebirds.
This time, however, Podolski was used on the left as a supporting forward. His power and pace caused plenty of problems for Cyrus Christie and Andy Webster.
This was the ideal game for the 28-year-old because he could treat it as a highly-intensive training session—even if Coventry didn't comply in the first half. That, however, did not stop Podolski from scoring twice and looking very sharp.
As the season progresses, his pace will become vital. He may be easy to neutralize for the very best teams, but against everyone else, he is ultra-dangerous.
Arsenal need players who can score from midfield and Podolski will oblige if given the chance.
Coventry Were Unprepared
It might sound a little harsh considering that Coventry City are 11th in League One and Arsenal currently lead the Premier League, but the gulf between the two teams was gargantuan.
The Gunners were superb throughout and their slick passing, intelligent movement and superior fitness bamboozled the Sky Blues. There is no glossing over the way Coventry were completely outplayed. They were second to every ball and Arsenal played right through them.
Steven Pressley's team looked well out of their depth. They also looked awed by the occasion and their opponents.
Coventry have come on by leaps and bounds since the Gunners hammered them 6-1 in the League Cup in 2012. They did not do themselves justice in the FA Cup and will have to do a lot of soul-searching after this insipid performance.
They never earned the right to play and got exactly what they deserved, even if they did improve in the second half.
The Emirates Stadium Can Become a Graveyard
Look, Arsenal were so superior to Coventry that the game almost became a joke.
However, the influence of the Emirates Stadium should not be underestimated.
When the Gunners first moved into the ground, they seemed to miss the Highbury effect and it took a long time for Arsene Wenger's team to, forgive the pun, feel at home.
Everyone has been beating on about Manchester City's incredible home form this season. Facts are facts and the Citizens' home results mean they are Arsenal's biggest challenger to top spot in the Premier League.
Statto reveals that City are undefeated in 11 homes games, scoring 42 and conceding eight goals.
Arsenal, in comparison, have won eight, drawn two and lost just once. Who can forget that freak 3-1 loss to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season? Importantly, the Gunners have scored 20 and conceded just six.
In other words, seeing as the Villa loss was out of character, the Gunners' defeats have come against two top teams playing at the very top of the game. Even then, Arsenal could have won on another day.
Between now and season's end, Arsenal have 16 Premier League matches to play.
The two key games that stand out are against Manchester United on Feb. 12 and Manchester City on March 29.
If the Gunners come through these eight games unbeaten, they should win the Premier League.
Coventry City Missed Callum Wilson
Coventry City badly missed Callum Wilson against Arsenal.
The 21-year-old striker has scored 15 goals this season, but missed the trip to the Emirates with a shoulder injury.
The highly rated forward signed a new contract extension which will keep him at the club until 2015.
He is quick and powerful and could have caused problems for the Gunners.
Wilson is not expected to be rushed back into action this season and it might not be until next term that we get to see the exciting youth again.
Nicklas Bendtner Is Not Good Enough for Arsenal
While Arsenal were efficient, proficient and more than economical in beating Coventry, the same cannot be said of Nicklas Bendtner.
All over the park, the Gunners' players put in professional performances of the highest level. They did not take the League One team for granted and earned the right to cruise to a 4-0 win.
While Jack Wilshere, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker yet again put in the kind of performances that would make ex-pros purr, Bendtner went through the motions.
Make no mistake about it, this was a massive game for the Danish forward.
He was sloppy in possession, shy in terms of work rate and poor in front of goal. When he was given the dreaded hook in the 71st minute, it came as no surprise.
Frankly, this should have been a game where he burst a gut to show Arsene Wenger what he was capable of. When the rest of the team were putting in workman's performances, Bendtner was actually playing like a workman.
Wenger should have never been put in the position where he even had to think about bringing Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla onto the pitch.
The fact that Giroud and Cazorla scored after Bendtner missed a couple of gilt-edged chances, including an embarrassing complete miss, speaks volumes.
Arsenal Could Win the Double
Whisper it quietly: Arsenal are on for the double.
They are on top of the Premier League on merit and have played some of the best football in England this season. With just 16 Premier League games left to play, the Gunners have their fate very much in their own hands.
The FA Cup is a little different, but Arsenal are the first team in the fifth round and are now just three matches from the final.
The Gunners will face tougher fixtures than both Coventry City and Tottenham Hotspur, who, let's face it, were just as outplayed in the third round as the Sky Blues were in the fourth.
The league is obviously where Arsene Wenger's priorities lie, but with his team in tip-top form—they have won the last seven games on the trot—they will take some beating.
The double is on, just don't say it too loudly...