Friday, 24 January 2014

FA Cup 4th Round, Arsenal vs Coventry - LIVE Commentary:

Friday night football: Arsenal host Coventry in the first FA Cup 4th Round tie of the weekend.

Hello and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have LIVE Commentary of the first FA Cup 4th Round tie, between EPL league leaders Arsenal and League One side Coventry.

The neutrals will be hoping for a big upset from the underdogs, with The Gunners having the opportunity to seal their place in the 5th Round with a comfortable win at home tonight. 

Here are the team line-ups:

Arsenal: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Gnabry, Podolski and Bendtner. 

Subs: Viviano, Sagna, Monreal, Zelalem, Flamini, Cazorla and Giroud. 

Coventry City: Murphy, Christie, Webster, Seaborne, Adams, Baker, Thomas, Fleck, Daniels, Moussa and L.Clarke. 

Subs: Burge, Willis,  J.Clarke, Haynes, Phillips, Barton and Slager. 

20:00 - 15 minutes played at The Emirates so far, and unsurprisingly it has been the hosts who have been dominating in possession, passing and chances. Jenkinson and Gibbs have done well to create many chances on the flanks, but Bendtner and Podolski are yet to take any of their chances. 

15: GOAL! And as soon as I say that... Podolski breaks the deadlock! 1-0 to the Arsenal, a good assist by midfielder Mesut Ozil who fed Podolski with a lovely weighted pass into the centre, two Germans linking together well before the striker goes around Murphy and slots from an acute angle into the bottom corner of the net. 

Home comforts: Podolski celebrates opening the scoring in the 15th minute from an acute angle. 
FACT: Arsenal have now scored at least once in 27 of their last 29 home FA Cup matches.

17: Coventry happy to keep hold of the ball, even if it is just for a few minutes as they try and get their breath back from having to constantly chase for the ball.

19: CLOSE! Coventry show they are not out of the tie yet, with captain Baker getting past two markers before using a bit of skill to turn Mertesacker inside out and his strike on target forces Fabianski into making a solid diving save.

24: CLOSE! Arsenal do well with some patient build-up play, before a ball is whipped straight to Gnabry who gets past a defender near the 18-yard box before having a strike towards goal, but his shot keeps rising and curls over the bar. 

26: Arsenal have a corner, whipped into the box by young German winger Serge Gnabry towards the back post, hitting Mertesacker on the back of his head before Podolski nods the ball into the back of the net. 2-0 to the Arsenal, and they are looking a bit more comfortable with a 2-goal cushion now. 

30: Arsenal supporters applaud as Cardiff start a protest holding up white pieces of paper (and banners) with the word "Why?" in bold - they are protesting as to how far they have to travel to play home games. 

Why? Coventry supporters protest as to why they cannot play home games - at HOME.

35: GREAT CHANCE! Arsenal could have made it 3-0, with Gibbs whipping another inviting ball into the box for someone to connect with - Jenkinson and Gnabry both see the ball, run towards it and try to hit it at the same time, with the strike flying over the bar. Should have got the shot on target, regardless of who hit the ball. 

38: CLOSE! Podolski almost completed his hat-trick! He has a strike towards goal from inside the area, but the shot goes over the bar... still 2-0. 

41: Wilshere is caught on the ankle in a nasty-looking challenge, and looks uncomfortable clutching the same ankle on the ground. The referee calls the physio, who assesses Wilshere and even though he limps to his feet, he is okay to continue after an asssessment from the physio.

45: The fourth official has signalled for 2 minutes of stoppage time to be added on at the end of the first-half at The Emirates. 

45+2: The referee blows his whistle to signal the end of the first-half of action at The Emirates. The hosts are unsurprisingly going into the break with a comfortable 2-0 lead, thanks to a double from Podolski. 

20:45 - The players are emerging from the tunnel, and kick-off is just minutes away. Second half about to start. 

20:48 - The referee has blown his whistle, to begin the second-half of action with Arsenal leading by 2 goals to nil so far. No substitutions for either side at the minute. 

46: Coventry have a corner after some effective pressure, forcing Fabianski into making a poorly controlled touch in-front of goal. The corner is whipped into the box in a dangerous position, but the Polish stopper catches the ball comfortably to make up for his mistake. 

47: The visitors are starting to play a high line, they want to make it difficult for Arsenal - putting pressure on the defence and trying to retain possession when they can.

49: CLOSE! A great through ball in the midfield sets striker Leon Clarke up, lurking in behind the Arsenal defence beating the offside trap to see him one-on-one with Fabianski. Clarke runs towards the near post before having a strike parried away by the 2nd string keeper. 
Coventry starting to take the game to Arsenal now...

50: Clarke is limping uncomfortably, and goes to ground in some discomfort after his strike. Replays show that he was tackled instantaneously when he shot, with Koscielny doing well to sprint back and tackle the striker with his trailing leg and knee. 

52: The Coventry physio helps Clarke off the pitch, and they are currently assessing whether he will be able to continue or not as they prepare a substitution just in-case. Meanwhile, the game restarts with a Coventry throw-in.

55: Penalty appeal waved away by the referee, after winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is pushed off the ball near the touchline by defender Christie - the referee felt it was too soft to give a penalty and the ball rolls out for a goal-kick. 

56: CLOSE! Leon Clarke hits the outside of the post with a well-struck shot which swerved away from Fabianski, who was rooted to the spot and could only watch as the ball flew past him but the striker was denied by the post.

2-0 to Arsenal, but Coventry have started the second-half well and I would not be surprised if they scored the way they are currently playing. 

The manager has probably told his players at half-time "We are away from home against Arsenal - losing 2-0 but have nothing to lose. Give it your best shot, 45 minutes to play."

59: Another chances goes begging, again for Bendtner after some patient build-up play between Gnabry, Ozil and Wilshere, with the latter passing the ball straight to the Dane - who lashes at the strike and the shot goes well wide of the goal. 

65: A pitch invasion temporarily halts play, the referee picks up the ball and the players wait for the stewards to escort the half naked fan off the pitch. 

67: Goal-kick for Arsenal after a Coventry counter attack goes wide of the goal. 

69: Arsenal preparing two changes, with 16-year-old German- born wonderkid midfielder Gideon Zelalem and Santi Cazorla getting ready to come on. 

70: Arsenal SUBS:
Nicklas Bendtner OFF
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain OFF
Gideon Zelalem ON
Santi Cazorla ON

Fresh legs for The Gunners as they look to see out the tie against a rejuvenuated Coventry side who have looked impressive in the second-half, unlucky not to have scored earlier.

FACT: Zelalem becomes the first player to make his Arsenal debut, being born after Wenger started managing The Gunners in 1996

78: Arsenal making their last substitution of the game, with goalscorer Podolski being replaced;
Lukas Podolski OFF
Olivier Giroud ON

Giroud gets a 10-minute run-out, could he score a goal? 

81: Coventry make something of nothing, with young right-back Christie running down the flank beating Ozil before his delivery into the box is low and hard into no-one but Koscielny, who makes a last-ditch attempt to clear away the danger and ends up making it go out for a corner. 

82: The corner comes of nothing, as Coventry are penalised for a foul from an aerial challenge on Koscielny. 

84: GOAL! I said it didn't I?! Olivier Giroud scores 5 minutes after coming on replacing Podolski, thanks to a good cut-back on the flank by left-back Kieran Gibbs whose low cross into the box was failed to be cleared away and the Frenchman hit the strike low and hard into the bottom corner of the net.
3-0, and The Gunners have virtually sealed their place in the 5th Round (unless they concede 3 goals in 5+ minutes)

Super sub: Giroud comes off the bench to score as Arsenal cruised to a comfortable victory.
87: Cazorla hits a 60-yard ball out to the flank, before a ball is whipped into the box for Giroud to hit towards goal but the delivery is too high for the Frenchman to control properly whilst being marked by a defender, and he hits the ball first time - but it goes over the bar!

88: GOAL! Santi Cazorla takes advantage of a rebound after a save by the Coventry goalkeeper to hit the ball on the half-volley into the back of an empty net with the keeper out of position. 

4-0 up, and a little harsh on Coventry who have tested the Arsenal defence well at times, especially in the second-half when they have looked likely to score.

90: The fourth official has signalled for 4 minutes of stoppage time to be added on at the end of the match at The Emirates. Arsenal currently leading 4-0, and will be the first name in the draw for the 5th Round of the FA Cup. 

90+2: CLOSE! Mesut Ozil almost makes it 5-0 for the hosts, after lurking dangerously in the box before shaping to shoot and having a strike hit the post before bouncing out for a goal-kick.

90+4: The referee has blown his whistle to end the match, with Arsenal being the first team to qualify for the 5th Round of the FA Cup. Coventry played remarkably well in the second-half, showing courage and bravery to take the game to The Gunners at times - unlucky not to score. 

Encouraging: Debutant midfielder Gideon Zelalem played well for the 20 minutes he was given.