Beyond the fringe - Gunners grit must be maintained

By Avenell Dave

In the end, it was gritty, but never really in much doubt.

Arsenal finally secured their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup against a Leeds side who may have made life harder but in all honesty, deserved nothing from the replay at Elland Road.

The question was raised before the game whether Arsene Wenger would field a strong side and he went with firepower, even if RvP started on the bench.

From the first minute you could see that the team was really up for it, showing the sort of hunger and determination that has been lacking against so-called lesser sides too many times in recent memory.

As soon as Samir Nasri slotted in an early goal, we looked calm and assured and special mention must go to Alex Song, who seems to have forsaken his advancing forays of a few weeks ago and knows that his job is to cover and protect.

That's 14 goals this season for Nasri - and while the debate rages, surely he has to be a better bet than V*n der V**rt for player of the year.

You always get the feeling with Arsenal that when they miss chances such as the gilt-edged crosses that Andrey Arshavin and Nick Bendtner failed to convert, the opposition may take the one chance that comes their way.

If only we were as clinical as our opponents have to be to score against us, eh?

Kasper Schmiechel also saved well from a superb Chamakh header which looked a certain goal and a low drive from AA23 but when Bacary Sagna scored the sort of goal that usually Brazilian full-backs score in World Cups, we looked home and dry.

Cue Mike Dean to make a massive refereeing mistake.

Arshavin, who had already been told to get up when he looked to be fouled at the other end, was clearly hauled back by his own corner flag and when the ball fell to Bradley Johnson, who Arsenal released when he was a kid, he hit a shot of such power that Chesney had no chance.

And so the home fans fought on but in reality, while we may not have been at our absolute sharpest, Arsenal were still in control.

I was surprised to see RvP and Cesc Fabregas brought on but they looked the part immediately and when Bendtner floated in a perfect cross, RvP kept up his decent run to seal the game.

I spent the rest of the game praying that Leeds simply didn't do the dirty on us and try and crock a player, but apart from a couple of lunges on Cesc, we didn't suffer.

Leeds may not be world class, but it was heartening to see how hungry the team looked, and how well even the fringe players did.

It confirms again to me that Tomas Rosicky is simply not good enough for this side - he is wasteful and slow and gives us nothing going forward - while Chesney again looked fine in goal - and his kicking is getting better!

Full marks to Bendtner as well who managed to get an assist despite playing again in a position that doesn't suit him.

He's an arrogant prat sometimes but when you find yourself essentially fourth choice or having to play out of position, it must be frustrating.

Roll on Wigan and hopefully we'll make up for letting two points slip at their place over the festive period.

It's looking good for Arsenal, but we've said that before, haven't we?