Like most of you, I didn’t get to watch our 3-1 loss to Brighton in the Carabao Cup. The game was not broadcast anywhere in the world, something notable for 2022 given the appetite for live sports. I seem to recall that during lockdown, there was such a clamor for things to watch, and bet on, that fake sports, or fake teams anyway, were invented playing in fake leagues.
My goodness, the Singapore Cranstons have beaten the Brisbane Goolies 94-86 in the World Series of Splatball.
So to see that a real official match with real teams in a real competition could not generate enough interest for even a broadcaster on the entire planet is something incredible. I guess some people won’t like it, but it says a lot more about the League Cup as a competition than it does about Brighton or Arsenal. Yes, it’s a trophy, but it’s very much the poor relation. The fact that Man City have won it in four of the last five years has also added to this, I think. Pep being so, so happy to win, he has literally bored the world and sports broadcasters into a state of indifference.
I saw the highlights on the official site this morning, and our first goal was very good. A good run from Reiss Nelson, followed by a quality finish from Eddie Nketiah. Brighton messed with a penalty again when debutant Karl Hein slipped, then fouled Danny Welbeck, with the former Arsenal man making no mistake from the penalty spot. I guess it was interesting that Hein started ahead of Matt Turner, who was on the bench. I would have expected the US international to play in this one.
Eddie hit the post in the second half, before Brighton scored twice. I know he hasn’t played much and could be considered rusty, but that was very Cedric defending for his second, and Tariq Lamptey outplayed Nelson well for his third. And that was all I can say about the 1.58 of coverage in the video.
Later, Mikel Arteta said:
The opinion is that the result does not really reflect what happened on the field. I think it’s clear, but there are two things in the field: they are the boxes. They were much more efficient than us and that makes all the difference, because at the moment when we were clearly at the top of the game when we had the chances to get away with it, we conceded the goal and that changed the game.
Beyond that, I can’t say much because I wasn’t there. The manager made 10 changes from the team that beat Chelsea, and in games like this one always judges marginal players. As fans, we want to see you step up, take your chance, and show us what you’re made of. The thing is, we know that some of these guys are not at the same level as the ‘first’ team. Whether it’s because they’re still young and developing, or because they’ve already shown us their real level over the years, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
What I would say is that if you add one or two to a stronger team, it would be easier for some of them to step up, but when there are 10, it’s much harder to make an impact. I’m sure the manager is well aware of that and will make his own judgments of it accordingly. However, a soccer team is always a work in progress. The quality of the players on his ‘squad’ can make a big difference, so while he, Edu and the rest of the staff discuss what work they need to do in the future, games like this are a good indicator of what needs to happen and in what positions Whether it’s this January or next summer, we’ll have to wait and see, but there’s always room for improvement. Stand still and you stay behind.
Coming out of this competition, I can’t say I’m too disappointed this morning. I don’t think we have the depth to go deep in this one and maintain our level in the second half of the season. When football returns on December 26, there are potentially 39 games in the Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup to compete in an already packed calendar. I’m not sure we need more.
Of course, I am speaking solely as a fan. Your mileage on this may vary. Like I said yesterday, Arteta is trying to instill a culture where all games matter, and I’m totally behind that. At the same time though, I think we need to be realistic about where we are, what kind of team we have and what is really important for us to achieve this season. A trophy would be nice of course, but I would consider our campaign to be much more successful if we made significant progress in terms of the Premier League and challenging at the top of the table than a Carabao Cup.
Well, that’s all for this morning.
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We’ll be back tomorrow with an Arsecast.