Carling Cup Player Ratings: Arsenal vs. Ispwich Town, 0-1
Arsenal encountered Ipswich Town in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi finals and entered the match at Portman Road overwhelming favourites to see off a mere Championship opponent. However the Tractor Boys shocked World Football by convincingly beating and outplaying the Gunners for a deserved 1-0 victory.
Arsenal had encountered only Premiership teams in their impressive run to the semi finals, with victories over rivals Tottenham, Newcastle and Wigan. Ispwich on the other hand had encountered only one Premiership side in a feeble West Bromwich Albion side. Furthermore The Suffolk based club had just been thrashed 7-0 by an out of form Chelsea outfit alongside the recent sacking of Roy Keane as manager. To make matters worse Ispwich sit 19th on the Championship table.
But yet the Tractor Boys showed no fear or tentative attacks as they were the lively side despite Arsenal controlling possession. Hungarian striker Tamas Priskin's 78th minute striker was all that was required to give Ipswich the upper hand going into the second leg which will be staged at the Gunner's Emirates Stadium.
Despite boasting possession, Arsene Wenger's men failed to materilaize and create any real chances. The absence of Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie told as the Gunners lacked serious spark in attack. Captain Cesc Fabregas had the best opportunity when a Kieran Gibb's cross found the Spaniard six yards from goal but the pace of the ball surprised Fabregas who was caught between a head and a kick as the ball flew wide and over.
Theo Walcott, who looked the most likely source for a goal or equalizer, had two chances but was thwarted both times by Ipswich shot stopper Martin Fulop.
Wenger could offer little for his sides lacklustre performance but did blame fatigue as the main culprit. The Frenchman however was gracious enough to admit the Gunners had been outplayed and dominated in every department.
The North London giants will hope for a revitalized performance in the return fixture in twelve days.
Wojciech Szczensy:6: The Polish keeper was solid but was guilty of some embarrassing, questionable moments. Fortunate not to be penalised for handling outside the area and could do little about the goal. Some may criticize Szczensy's position when the goal was conceded.
Emmanuel Eboue:5.5: The Ivorian seems to have lost his spark in recent week as Eboue failed to provide a threat down the right. Struggled at times defensively but overall relatively solid.
Johan Djourou:6: The Imposing Swiss was evidently fatigued having been force to play 4 games in 12 days. However made some strong interceptions but was also caught in poor positioning on occasions.
Laurent Koscienly:6.5: The Frenchman made some impressive, vital challenges and continued to look composed and calm with the ball. However was at fault at times when Priskin drifted through only to continually waste opportunities.
Kieran Gibbs:6: The English international was solid enough defensively as the energetic Carlos Edwards failed to really torment down the left. Contributed well in attack with some neat crosses along with some wayward ones.
Denilson:5.5: The Samba star was tentative in attack at times but did attempt to impose himself in defence. To often however attackers drifted past as well some poor passing.
Jack Wilshere:6.5: Cool and composed in attack providing the only real attacking force from the midfield. The English teenager didn't deserve to be replaced as Wilshere did not feature against Leeds and was not fatigued. Still in "Arsene We Trust"
Cesc Fabregas:5.5: Poor from the captain as the Gunners need a force and the Spaniard failed to deliver. Missed arguably Arsenal's best chance and wasn't at his best with deliveries either.
Andrei Arshavin:5: The Russian dynamo was once again disappointing, slow and uninterested. But once again Wenger's managerial skills come into context into why the Russian started? Why Carlos Vela, who didn't play 90 minutes against Leeds like Arshavin, failed to start remains to be unseen. Then again "In Arsene We Trust"
Theo Walcott:6.5: The English winger was easily Arsenal's strongest attacker as Walcott tormented the right wing. Came close on two occasions only to have his efforts convincingly blocked.
Nicklas Bendtner:5: The Danish sharp shooter was far too quiet and failed to provide the presence necessary the Arsenal front line needed. Rightly substituted early in the second half.
Alexandre Song:6: The Cameroon midfielder ensured Fabregas had more attacking space as he took on the defensive role.
Marouane Chamakh:6: Achieved more in 22 minutes than Bendtner did in 68 minutes.
Carlos Vela:N/A: The Mexican really should have started.
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