Arsene made 10 changes to the line-up and that meant rookies Miquel and Henderson got a start. The players coming in did not disappoint. On the contrary, the performance highlighted the depth of the squad and reminded us of the differences between playing at home and away.
Both teams started positively. Orient got some joy down Arsenal’s left channel but couldn’t make it count. The Gunners took the lead in the 7th minute. Rosicky collected a loose ball and showed a burst of acceleration to get into the box down the right channel. Little Mozart squared it back where Chamakh was present to side-foot it into the far corner.
Orient came close to equalizing a couple of minutes later when a Corner was only partially cleared by Miquel. The ball fell to former Arsenal youngster Chorley whose strike was deflected over the goal.
The visitors again went close but the striker couldn’t direct the cross towards goal. This time the move came down the right as Eboue was caught napping.
After that chance Arsenal found their passing rhythm and controlled the game much better. Chances were limited at both ends but the Gunners were playing a patient possession game. It was good to see the midfielders taking charge as the backline was second string and the attackers included a youngster and a striker who is out of form. It wasn’t exciting but I thought it was the intelligent thing to do. Whether it was a consciously taken decision or happenstance is difficult to determine.
Around the half-hour mark, some good work by Henderson and Diaby allowed Gibbs to stand one up in the box. Bendtner attacked it well and powered his header past the diving Jones. I’m a fan of the striker’s ability to generate such power even when the cross doesn’t have any pace on it.
The Dane picked up his second minutes before the half time whistle. It was one of his trademark curlers from the left edge of the penalty box. We’ve already seen him score that way against City, Newcastle, and most importantly Ipswich.
The second half was more of the same. Orient had a couple of spells when they created chances. Both spells resulted from some sloppy work and lack of concentration by the Gunners. Thankfully, the visitors didn’t have enough quality in the final third. Some might say that is the reason the Arsenal players got careless in the first place. I didn’t like those phases but it was good to see that they didn’t last too long.
Arsenal’s fourth, and Bendtner’s hat-trick, came after a jinking run by Gibbs lead to a penalty. The fifth was a collector’s item as Clichy fired home his second goal for the club in all these years.
It was interesting to see that Arsene introduced three first string players as substitutes even though the game was quite comfortable. Nasri came on for Rosicky who was dizzy but hopefully nothing serious. Wilshere and Clichy came on for Diaby and Bendtner. It could be considered precautionary changes as both the big men will be needed at their best for the next few games.
Individually it’s difficult to say much about any player after such a game. The defenders struggled a bit on occasions, especially when the balls were played down the channels. It’s not something new and we see this even with the first team so I don’t want to criticize anyone.
Some players seemed to switch off at times. It could happen when the game is being played at such a tempo. Credit goes to the back five for working hard in those moments and to all the players for getting their act together soon enough.
I noticed there were occasions when Arsenal didn’t get enough bodies in the box even though the ball was in a dangerous position. But talking about lack of attacking intent after a 5 – 0 win seems absurd.
The youngster Henderson wasn’t involved often but did well when he was on the ball. It wasn’t a breathtaking debut but a steady, confidence boosting one. Miquel got another taste of playing with the big boys and must now go back to the training ground to further develop his undoubted potential.
The real positives must come from the return of Diaby and the quality of the finishes. Hopefully Bendtner will repeat the impressive performances he had towards the end of the last season. The margin of victory reminded me of the early days of the season when Blackpool, Braga, and Shakhtar were thumped at home. This would be a good time for the team to rediscover that form.