Arsenal started this FA Cup tie by making 10 changes to the team that beat Barca during the week, Song being the only player surviving the rotation policy. As if that was not enough, the team also fielded 18-year-old Ignasi Miquel from the reserve team to partner Squillaci in central defence.
The 1st half started with Arsenal keeping most of the ball - as expected - but the team lacked that extra cutting edge in the final third of the pitch. The opening half wasn't as bad as the 1st leg Carling Cup tie with Ipswich, on the contrary, it was much better. Arsenal passed the ball well enough and did their best to exert themselves on the opposition. The Os on the other side of the pitch were content to soak in the (narrow) Arsenal pressure, since the gunners didn't try to stretch Leyton on the flanks, but were content with applying pressure through the middle.
With the gunners holding the ball most of the time, it was not surprising that they created most of the chances. Arsenal tried and tried to pry the Os open but the home team stayed resolute. Arshavin, Bendtner and Chamakh all had chances to shoot at goal. Of all three though, Chamakh had the best opportunity to put the gunners one up in the 34th minute when Gibbs crossed it low into the box, but the French striker side-footed the ball wide. On the flip-side, the most telling chance for Leyton Orient came in the 13th minute when Daniels blazed the ball over the bar, after a set-piece.
After the break, Arsenal continued where they left off and were duly rewarded by a goal from Rosicky. (It's always refreshing to see him score, because he is such a good player that has been marginalized out of the first team due to injuries and competition for places within the team.) After that though, Leyton opened up more. They tested Alumunia in the 56th minute with a shot to make sure he wasn't napping in the goal, and also in the 69th minute with a curving shot that went wide of the post.
With the Os coming out more, Arsenal were able to create some more telling chances. Rosicky had a shot and header - each chance barely moments from each other - saved by the Leyton keeper Jamie Jones, after a nice cut-back from Arshavin. Arshavin almost put himself on the scoring sheet late on in the game, when he drove at the Leyton defence from the right flank and drilled his shot low towards the far post, but he was denied by the upright.
Leyton Orient did scare the gunners at the end of the game. In the 82th minute, substitute Tehoue broke down the right side and crossed the ball in for Revell to shoot at goal, but Squillaci deflected the ball out of the danger area with his head. Eventually though, Tehoue would level the game up in the 87th minute, after some bad defending from Gibbs & Miquel - who had a good showing but for the defensive lapse at the end of the game.
Final Thougts : All in all, Arsenal played well enough to beat Leyton Orient. The only thing really lacking from the gunners was the defence-splitting passes that are so characteristic of the Arsenal way. Most of the chances created were more like half-chances, and the clear chances that we got we didn't finish. Once the goal was in, Arsenal continued to play and hold the ball well - minus the two scary moments Leyton produced at the end. But Arsenal cannot depend on a one nil win - even if the statistics say that we've kept 6 clean sheets in 14 matches since the turn of the year - because of one fundamental fact, it's Arsenal - we don't shut out games. Positives? We saw the future of Arsenal in Ignasi Miquel, who looked comfortable beside Squillaci. Is he the reason Arsene didn't splash cash on a new centre half in January? Maybe. From this match, we can glean two points:
1. Arsene could have mixed it up at the end by adding substitutes to prod Leyton for their breaking point. However, problems tend to be clear and simple in retrospect, but the truth is that we'll never know.
2. If Arsene cannot depend on his "squad players" to put teams like these to the sword, the least they can do is get the "W". That should be the bare minimum for Arsenal squad players - just get the job done, so that we don't have to play unnecessary games like the replay of this match at the Emirates.