Arsenal bounce back to end Leyton Orient’s FA Cup dream
FA Cup Fifth Round Replay; Arsenal 5 Leyton Orient 0
Arsenal shook off their disappointment from Sunday’s Carling Cup final defeat to set up an FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford by ending Leyton Orient’s heroic FA Cup run in emphatic style at the Emirates.
The Gunners will take on Manchester United in the last-eight tie a week on Saturday after a Nicklas Bendtner hat-trick helped see off the League One side.
It was a cathartic evening for the Gunners and for Orient, somewhere in the region of �750,000 richer thanks to the replay, there was also satisfaction even if the game itself was one-sided and lacked the intensity and drama of the first encounter at Brisbane Road 10 days earlier.
In some ways that match had encapsulated all that is good about the FA Cup, while this replay showed the other side – an under-strength Premier League team barely getting out of second gear to give lower-division opposition a sound beating.
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But Orient had enjoyed their moment in the spotlight and are much better off for it. A push for the play-offs is now what O’s manager Russell Slade will want from his men in the remaining two months of the season. And even if they don’t reach that goal, there is still the trip to Las Vegas to look forward to courtesy of chairman Barry Hearn.
For Arsenal, with Sunderland to come in the Premier League on Saturday and the trip to Barcelona looming next week, there was little chance of Arsene Wenger risking too many first-team players..
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Only Tomas Rosicky was retained from the 11 who started at Wembley on Sunday, and there was a debut for 19-year-old midfielder Conor Henderson and a second start for the Spanish 18-year-old centre-back Ignasi Miquel.
Arsenal had struggled to break down a resolute Orient side in the first game at Brisbane Road, but this time it took them just eight minutes.
And it was two players who had taken a fair bit of criticism after the Carling Cup final defeat who were the architects of the goal.
Rosicky, who did not enjoy a profitable 90 minutes at Wembley, sped on to a ball on the right side of the Orient box, raced to the byline and cut the ball back for Marouane Chamakh to nudge a shot into the bottom corner.
That was not the start the League One side had envisaged, but this is a team who have not been beaten since New Year’s Day, a run of 13 games, and who fought back from 2-0 behind at Huddersfield just last weekend.
Former Arsenal trainee Ben Chorley saw a shot blocked and then left-back Charlie Daniels, once of Tottenham, breezed past Emmanuel Eboue on the Arsenal right and pulled back to the near post where Alex Revell should perhaps have done a lot better than sidefoot wide.
As they had done in the first game, Orient were holding their own, but Arsenal were starting to find their rhythm and they doubled their lead on 28 minutes.
This time the goal came from the opposite flank, with Kieran Gibbs given plenty of space to arc over a cross to Bendtner who sent a fine, loping header over O’s keeper Jamie Jones and into the net.
That seemed to knock the stuffing out of Orient, and they were further behind before the break, this time Bendtner cutting in from the left and curling a superb low effort past Jones and into the far corner.
Given the injury that will rule Robin van Persie out of next week’s trip to Barcelona, one of Chamakh and Bedntner will start in the Nou Camp. They seemed to be treating this audition seriously.
Orient were given a glimpse of goal when Manuel Almunia came charging out a little unnecessarily and Revell almost profited, but the first half ended with Chorley going into the book for a nasty-looking challenge on Chamakh – the night was definitely turning a little sour for Orient.
The start of the second half certainly did not suggest the tie was over, however, as Arsenal almost made it four only for Abou Diaby to flash a shot inches wide, and then the O’s dominated the next 10 minutes.
Daniels and the lively Dean Cox were enjoying plenty of possession on the Orient left flank, and a number of dangerous crosses arrived in the Arsenal box, but the finishing touch proved just beyond the O’s despite being roared on by 9,000 travelling fans from East London behind Almunia’s goal.
Just past the hour mark, Gibbs emphasised the gulf in quality, twisting his way into the Orient box, evading one challenge from Andrew Whing before being felled by a clumsy challenge from Revell
With none of the regular Arsenal penalty-takers on the pitch, Bendtner stepped up and confidently dispatched a low kick into Jones’ right-hand corner for his second hat-trick in an Arsenal shirt, his first having come exactly a year earlier in the Champions League against Porto.
At 4-0, that seemed to be the cue for wholesale substitutions, with Wenger surprisingly introducing Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy while Orient brought on the hero from the first game, Jonathan Tehoue, whose strike had earned his club this lucrative replay and, of course, that end-of-season trip to Las Vegas.
There was no hero’s role for Tehoue this time however, and it was one of the Arsenal substitutes, Clichy, who scored Arsenal’s fifth with quarter of an hour remaining, drilling home a left-footed shot for only his second goal in almost eight years at Arsenal.
Cox had a chance to send the Orient fans home happy with a consolation goal on 90 minutes, but the midfielder sent his shot the wrong side of the upright.
Orient have won plenty of friends and made a killing from the FA Cup this season but, as expected, it is Arsenal who will head to Old Trafford on March 12 for an eagerly-awaited quarter-final.
They may have failed to land the Carling Cup, but Arsenal’s trophy ambitions in the other three competitions appear to be still very much alive.
Arsenal: Almunia, Eboue, Squillaci, Miquel, Gibbs, Denilson, Diaby (Clichy, 65), Henderson, Rosicky (Nasri, 62), Chamakh, Bendtner (Wilshere, 65).
Orient: Jones, Whing, Forbes, Chorley, Daniels, Cox, Dawson, Crowe (Spring, 65) Carroll, McGleish (Tehoue, 65), Revell (M’Poku, 79).