By Avenell Dave
I love Carling Cup games. A proper crowd, hungry players trying to prove their worth and the sense that defeat wouldn't be the end of the world.
Samir Nasri produced the pantomime villainy (and impotence we saw so often when he played for us) that livened up proceedings, but this was really about seeing how good our reserves are. And the signs, on the most part, were encouraging.
Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin both showed they have great futures ahead of them and raise the question of why we might need M'Vila. The more they play, the stronger they get and I'd love to see them get more pitch time or perhaps for Frimpong to go on loan to Bolton, for instance. Didn't do Jack Wilshere any harm.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was also superb, not afraid of taking a shot, tenacious, brave and he looks like a top quality player. Super class (in the making) as Le Boss would say.
At the back, Ignasi Miquel did ok although Citeh targeted him a great deal and we know what the others could do, even though I have to say the much maligned Sebastien Squillaci did well in the centre.
Lukasz Fabianski was ok, but doesn't exude the same confidence or assertiveness that his compatriot Szcz shows every game.
Where we're clearly lacking is in attack. We all know this.
Maroune Chamakh is simply not good enough. You only have to look at his scoring record at Bordeaux to question why Arsene Wenger wanted him so badly. His first touch is often poor, his passing and retention is indifferent and the chance he missed at the end had Wenger and RvP wondering 'how did he miss that?'
The crowd have lost faith in him and you have to wonder how much longer he'll last in London.
Park was also ineffectual, fluffing a great first half chance, but in his defence, he has hardly played. You don't get the sense he could score us 15 goals a season though, which should be the minimum target for anyone given a striking berth in the first team.
The big disappointment of our defeat is that the younger and fringe players will not get more opportunities to play and learn. The fact that our entire team cost less than Citeh goalscorer Sergio Aguero underlines that, while Project Youth may not have been perfect, having an organic youth team development is no bad thing.
Plenty to be positive about. Now onto Wigan.