This was a match that was to make the headlines for a number of reasons. The fantastic personal performance of one Carlos Vela, scoring an emphatic hat trick. The average squad age of 19 or Gael Clichy mark 2 in the form of Kieran Gibbs. However I would like to draw attention to the players who played their part and shared only a very small slice of the tabloid riches.
The 3 players who caught my eye were Johan Djourou, Alexandre Song and Mark Randall. Song and Djourou had a very solid game at the back, outplaying the Blades attack, passing out of defence even from the byline. They were first to the ball at every possible occasion and the one time that Alexandre did miss a header Djourou was covering well to clear the ball tidily.
The match itself was a very pedestrian affair with few chances of note for the first 20 minutes or so, at this point Johan Djourou made a marauding forward run ending with a beautiful one-two and a fine shot that was subsequently saved by Paddy Kenny in the Sheff. Utd goal. This action seemed to spark the young Arsenal side into action. As soon as Djourou began to leave his post in the centre of defence my eyes were taken to his position expecting to see a gaping hole waiting to be exploited by
a blades counter attack. To my surprise and also delight I noticed the hole had been plugged by Mark Randall who was clearly playing a holding role. He continued to do this throughout the evening whenever either of the 2 centre backs made their way forward to join the Arsenal attack.
He also gave them an easy passing option whenever the ball was played out to the defence by tracing across the back four whenever any of them had the ball at their feet. It was this attitude, hunger to have the ball at their feet that meant Arsenal dominated possession. As well as helping the Gunners keep possession this pulled Sheffield Utd players out of their formation to try and win the ball opening space for the more attacking, flair players to orchestrate play in the more attacking areas of the pitch.
The only downer of the evening for myself was having to see Song go off with an injury that seemed to be a side strain, as of yet no mention has been made as to how serious the injury was. So I can only hope that no news is good news.
The youthful players that were on show certainly have a lot of promise, if they develop at the same rate over the coming season then I believe that next sesaon Arsenal could have a squad that is capable of winning some quality silverware.