Henderson shines as Bendtner treble sinks Orient
Leyton Orient 0
Published 03/03/2011 | 05:00
After the Carling Cup hangover, this was the perfect pick-me-up for Arsenal. A Nicklas Bendtner hat-trick bookended by strikes from Marouane Chamakh and Gael Clichy lifted the spirits, but the victory came at a cost.
Tomas Rosicky, who had been excellent, limped from the fray and must be a doubt both for the weekend's Premier League game with Sunderland and next week's Champions League trip to Barcelona.
On the positive side, the Emirates enjoyed an assured debut from the tall Irish teenager Conor Henderson, who was a force down either flank.
Arsenal now meet Manchester United at Old Trafford on March 12 for the right to contest an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, scene of their weekend woes against Birmingham City.
As Chamakh and Bendtner twice put Orient to the sword in the first half, there certainly seemed little sign of a Carling Cup headache.
Rosicky began to make amends for his anonymity in the Carling Cup by creating Chamakh's goal.
The Czech Republic international darted down the inside-right channel, turning and looking for red shirts in the box. Rosicky calmly picked out Chamakh, who shot low past Jamie Jones.
After the gut-wrenching distress of the weekend, this was just what the doctor ordered. Arsenal always carried a threat, and soon added a second.
A good move down the left, involving the impressive Hend-erson, soon saw the ball nestling at the left foot of Kieran Gibbs.
When the full-back hoisted it into the box, the danger seemed minimal, but Bendtner timed his jump well, getting good spring to reach the ball and send a looping header past Jones.
Bendtner had actually started poorly, seemingly failing to appreciate the importance of pressing opponents from a lower division.
Sighs of disapproval could be heard on the Emirates terraces at the Dane's apparent indifference. But like the buses on the Holloway Road, they had waited for one goal from Bendtner and soon got two -- a fine individual effort.
There was more after the break. Gibbs, attacking constantly, was brought down by Alex Revell and Bendtner drove the penalty past Jones to complete his hat-trick.
And more. When Emmanuel Eboue swept the ball across the box, Clichy thumped it powerfully to the net.
Tougher challenges await. (© Daily Telegraph, London)