Welbeck sends Arsenal into Carabao Cup semi-finals
Striker's first-half goal is enough to clinch victory in forgettable match against West Ham
20 December, 2017 — By Paul Cowling
Carabao Cup Quarter-Final
ARSENAL 1 (Welbeck, 42), WEST HAM UNITED 0
A GOAL from Danny Welbeck – the match’s only shot on target – was enough to send Arsenal through to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup at the expense of east London rivals West Ham.
It was an evening to forgot in terms of quality, but it looked, perhaps, as if Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had been watching a different game.
“I felt we played with quality, pace and spirit,” he said. “Overall, for 90 minutes we were solid defensively and not tested.”
Wenger completely changed the starting XI from Saturday’s stuttering win against Newcastle.
It was testimony to the progress of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and the rebirth of Jack Wilshere that the pair were not in the matchday squad, with this Friday’s clash with Liverpool in mind.
Of the Gunners’ crop of promising youngsters, only Joe Willock began the match in a team of more experienced colleagues, suggesting also that Wenger is targeting the League Cup – he has never won it in the 21 years he has been at the club.
The opening 35 minutes particularly dragged by with a very poor game of attack versus defence. The Gunners’ vaunted forward line of Olivier Giroud, Welbeck and Theo Walcott were nullified by organised defending.
But on 39 minutes Saed Kolasinac charged down the left and crossed with purpose into the penalty area. Walcott was in space and unmarked, and primed to head goalward, but instead he nodded the ball embarrassingly wide of goalkeeper Joe Hart’s goal.
West Ham fans, racked up in the Clock End, roared approvingly, but were silent on 42 minutes as out of nowhere Welbeck bundled his way through to goal and his shin did the rest as the ball nestled in the net.
The scrappy nature of the England forward’s winning goal was befitting of the entire match.
Giroud went off clutching his hamstring, replaced by Reiss Nelson on 78 minutes, while there were late run-outs for Ben Sheaf (for Willock) and Josh Dasilva (for Francis Coquelin).
“Coquelin has a hamstring but should be fit for Liverpool, but Giroud will be out for Friday night,” said Wenger of the two hamstring casualties.
Arsenal: Ospina, Chambers, Holding, Debuchy, Kolasinac, Coquelin (Dasilva, 90) Elneny, Willock (Sheaf, 84); Walcott, Giroud (Nelson, 78), Welbeck.
Subs not used: Reine-Adelaide, Akpom, Nketiah.
West Ham: Hart, Rice, Reid, Collins, Ogbonna, Creswell (Carroll, 65); Masuaku, Obiang, Quinta (Arnautovic, 83); Ayew, Hernandez (Sakho, 65).
Subs not used: Zabaleta, Adrian, Haksabanovic.