Arsenal beat Reading on Tuesday night to progress to the next round of the EFL Cup but what did we learn?
Arsene Wenger fielded pretty much an entirely different starting XI from the one we saw draw against Middlesbrough in the Premier League and this result was decidedly more positive.
From players returning from injury to others finding their form, here’s what we learned from Arsenal’s win over the Royals.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can finish
Despite what the forward has led us to believe over the past season or so, the Ox is actually quite capable both inside and outside the box.
The goal he scored against Reading in the first half was rather lovely. After intercepting a poor pass, he dribbled into the box and slotted the ball low and strong into the bottom left of the net.
His second goal did take a massive deflection but, until this point, he’d been asking all the right questions. It just took him a little while to find the answer.
For all the flack he gets – and, trust me, I know I’m one of his biggest critics – his stats this season aren’t too bad at all. Five goals, two assists in just 12 appearances; only three of these were starts.
Against Reading, there was something determined about his style of play. The lad’s always eager to please but this was different; not perfect but improved.
Maybe he’s been talking to Theo?
Carl Jenkinson is alive
The right-back has been out for nine months after having to get his knee operated on while playing against Manchester City for West Ham.
The 24-year-old recently made a solid return for the Arsenal u23s and obviously got the nod against Reading.
There’s still work that needs to be done since he’s been out for so long and he did look tired in the second half but right from the get-go you could tell the same desire is still there.
It’s good to have him back and I’m sure if he continues to get fitter, he’ll be fine in no time.
Gabriel is weird at defending
What was that deflection about? And why did he randomly appear in an attacking position late in the second half?
As if we didn’t already know that Gabriel was already a bit of a liability, the Brazilian almost helped us concede a goal in the first half when he ducked out the way of the ball, getting up just in time for it to bounce off him. Luckily, it went over the net.
Rob Holding’s about five years old yet even he still managed to look more calm, assured and more positionally aware than his 25-year-old partner.
Wenger was right about Lucas
The Spaniard made his second start this season; the first was against Nottingham Forest in the previous round of the EFL Cup in which he scored a brace.
As the boss said recently, the striker has potential and definitely showed bursts of exciting play. However, he lacks a certain creativity and skill, which is preventing him from moving forward and becoming a really good striker.
His passing isn’t quite as sure as it should be; at times it’s not weighted enough and others it’s not precise enough. He’ll surge forward and then stop dead in his tracks, taking years to pick out the right pass, which at Arsenal should come instinctively.
He’s almost there but considering the quality of the Arsenal first team, ‘almost’ isn’t good enough right now. I’m sure if he continues working in training, he’ll get there.