Friday 22 September 2017

Arsenal hold their nerve to advance after shoot-out

West brom 1 Arsenal 1 (Arsenal win 4-3 on pens, AET)

Nicklas Bendtner provided an assist for Arsenal's goal
Nicklas Bendtner provided an assist for Arsenal's goal

Kevin Garside

Arsenal found the League Cup a less hospitable playground than the Premier League and required penalties to advance to a fourth-round meeting with Chelsea.

West Brom cared little for their status as league leaders and had little difficulty in enforcing a shut-out in extra-time after the match ended 1-1 in normal time.

After falling 3-1 behind in the shoot-out Arsenal appeared doomed only for Albion to miss their final two kicks and hand the visitors a lifeline. Nacho Monreal took it with a thumping left-footer into the roof of the net.

With the golden triangle of Mezut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey rested, the stage was given over to Nicklas Bendtner to make some kind of impression a full 25 months after his last Arsenal appearance.

The manager asked to see some fight from his well-travelled striker. Taking a rather literal view of the appeal, Bendtner's first contribution was to clatter into a post.

West Brom had the first dart at goal when Shane Long headed back a driven cross from Saido Berahino. Long's athleticism surprised Per Mertesacker, but not Lukasz Fabianski, who gathered it.

Raids

Arsenal fashioned a series of raids down the right towards the end of the half with Serge Gnabry and Isaac Hayden prominent, but it was Albion who went closest with the only shot on target in the first half, a rasping free-kick from Steven Reid, tipped over by Fabianski.

Arsenal added a degree of urgency at the start of the second half to the control of the first and for 10 minutes camped in the West Brom half. The main threat to Arsenal was complacency, as demonstrated by the poor pass of Mikel Arteta that set Stephane Sessegnon free. The Benin international bound into the inviting acres behind the stranded Arteta only to overrun the ball as he approached the box.

Arsenal responded with an incisive raid at the other end, Bendtner playing his part, neatly threading the ball through for Eisfeld to wrong foot Daniels and plant the ball briskly in the net.

West Brom had half an hour to engineer a response. It took them all of 10 minutes, Berahino heading home at the far post after Long lifted the ball back across goal.

This was just what the contest needed, the final 20 minutes fought out in the more traditional cup-tie manner. In added time, Carl Jenkinson whipped in a dangerous cross from the right that evaded both Bendtner and Thomas Eisfeld at the far post. It proved the last opportunity. Extra time beckoned. (© Independent News Service)

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