Sunday 17 December 2017

Tehoue serves dose of reality to Gunners

Leyton Orient 1
Arsenal 1

Sam Wallace

Against the club who humbled Barcelona last week, it took a well-travelled French striker whom not even Arsene Wenger had heard of before yesterday to claim a famous FA Cup fifth-round draw for Leyton Orient.

Jonathan Tehoue, a 26-year-old substitute who has played for, among others, Bastia and Huddersfield Town, scored a dramatic 88th-minute equaliser that gives Leyton Orient a lucrative replay at the Emirates next week. It would be hard to imagine them winning on Arsenal's home turf a week on Wednesday, but the prize is even greater: an FA Cup quarter-final tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

It was an embarrassment for Wenger, who gambled on playing a much weaker first team and looked to have edged through with Tomas Rosicky's goal, only for Tehoue to bring the house down with his late strike. In 11th position in League One, Orient were not embarrassed all afternoon and when their chance arrived they took it beautifully.


For Wenger, the replay is more of an irritation. He has the Carling Cup final on Sunday but this was the sting in the tail after that famous win over Barcelona on Wednesday. His team had chances to build upon Rosicky's goal in the second half and then they failed to deal with Tehoue's pace and directness.

For Orient, it might have been the same club who beat Barcelona four days earlier that they faced yesterday, but it was certainly not the same team. The only starter for Arsenal from that side was Alex Song, although there were a further seven of Wednesday's team on the substitutes' bench.

In that respect, the team-sheet suggested Wenger was determined this would not go to a replay. Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Jack Wilshere were among those available if needed, but with the Carling Cup final meaning another extra game, Wenger preferred not to use them.

He gave a debut to Catalan-born defender Ignasi Miquel and the 18-year-old looked very composed in the first half, which was more than could be said at times for his fellow central defender Sebastien Squillaci.

Arsenal's best chance of the first half came when Andrei Arshavin played in Kieran Gibbs down the left wing and his cross should have been put away by Marouane Chamakh, but the Moroccan was a yard off the pace and could only direct it wide.

Wenger must have been considering unleashing one of his big-name substitutes when Arsenal broke through at last. It was an unlikely kind of goal for Orient to concede given that it was a header from Rosicky from a cross from Nicklas Bendtner from the right -- the kind of cross Orient had dealt with comfortably for most of the afternoon.

Tehoue came on as a substitute with 27 minutes remaining and left Song behind on a run down the left wing. His cross was met by Alex Revell, who could not keep his shot on target.

Tehoue, who has played in France, Belgium and Turkey, caused problems again with eight minutes remaining. His cross to Revell was struck at Squillaci and hit him in the face, which prompted appeals for a penalty. The pace of the French striker at last gave Orient a cutting edge and it was Arsenal who looked tired.

The goal from Tehoue was a beauty. He picked the ball up in the right channel before weaving around the challenges of Gibbs and Miquel before striking his shot low and hard under Almunia before the Arsenal goalkeeper could get down to save it.

Tehoue had done enough to lay claim to a starting place at the Emirates. As for Arsenal, they will have go through it all again.

Given that the Gunners play against Barcelona just six days after they play Orient it will put further strain on Wenger's resources. The FA Cup is hardly his priority either.

But these are the kinds of games that every great side must tick off over the course of a successful season. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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