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Ipswich Town (0) 1 - 0 (0) Arsenal

Carling Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg 2010-11

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Referee: M Atkinson

Manager: Ian McParland

Portman Road 19:45

Attendance: 29,146

Manager: Arsene Wenger

Match Number: 3389


 Tamas Priskin (78)


Jack WilshereAlexandre Song (68)
Nicklas BendtnerMarouane Chamakh (68)
Andrei ArshavinCarlos Vela (80)


 Darren ODea (43)
 Tamas Priskin (81)



Wojciech Szczesny

Laurent Koscielny

Johan Djourou

Emmanuel Eboue

Kieran Gibbs

Cesc Fabregas

Theo Walcott


Jack Wilshere

Andrei Arshavin

Nicklas Bendtner



James Shea

Craig Eastmond

Ignasi Miquel

Aaron Ramsey

Alexandre Song

Carlos Vela

Marouane Chamakh

Match Report

Ipswich Town 1 Arsenal 0

Ipswich had bravely selected the U2 song Beautiful Day to loudly accompany their unveiling on Wednesday of Paul Jewell and, for the new manager, it was also the perfect evening.

Not only was Jewell rapturously welcomed by the home crowd, but he watched his new team deliver a performance which has deservedly taken them to the brink of a first appearance in a Wembley Cup final since 1978. For those who believe in omens, Tamas Priskin’s winning goal was also scored in the 78th minute.

Images of Jewell had been beaming out from big-screens in the streets all around Portman Road before the match, but the new man opted to watch from the stands and have no contact with the players. He said that he did not want to disrupt preparations, although the thought of starting his reign with the daunting prospect of a game against Arsenal may also have played on his mind. It need not have.

Inspired by Priskin, Ipswich were superb throughout and should really be taking more than a one goal advantage into the second leg.

Arsenal, by contrast, seemed to freeze at the prospect of taking a major step towards ending their five-year trophy drought. Their familiar defensive frailties, particularly under what should have been routine long balls, were again exposed, while Nicklas Bendtner and Andrei Arshavin only reinforced Arsene Wenger’s recent decision to drop them from his Premier League starting team.

With Portman Road sold out for the first time since December 2003, the atmosphere was a throw-back to some of the glory nights of European football under George Burley and, before that, silverware under Sir Bobby Robson in the form of both the FA and Uefa Cups.

Wenger had suggested that the Ipswich players might have been subconsciously prioritising the Carling Cup in their limp 7-0 FA Cup drubbing against Chelsea and, from the first minute, that observation was vindicated.

As well as the obvious work-rate of the players, Ipswich were being helped by the sensible tactical changes of caretaker manager Ian McParland in what was his last match at the club.

With the team completely overrun by Chelsea in starting with two strikers in a 4-4-2 formation on Sunday, McParland employed Priskin as the lone central striker last night. It meant moving Connor Wickham to the left and switching Mark Kennedy to a holding position in central midfield.

That subtle alteration gave Ipswich a far more compact feel and, crucially, meant that they generally had enough midfield bodies to break-up Arsenal’s intricate passing.

Full of energy and clearly buoyed by a fervent home crowd, Ipswich almost took an early lead when Priskin collected possession on the left, cut inside Emmanuel Eboue and shot narrowly wide of Wojciech Szczesny’s right-hand post.

It was a moment of skill that seemed to generate belief in his team-mates and Ipswich created further chances when Wickham, a player Arsenal have been scouting, had a shot deflected wide and Gareth McAuley headed Carlos Edwards’s corner narrowly over.

Ipswich also had the ball in the goal shortly before half-time, although Priskin was clearly in an offside position when he executed a fabulous overhead kick past Szczesny.

Although Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy were all spared a trip to Suffolk ahead of Saturday’s match against West Ham, Wenger had largely selected his strongest available team.

Yet even with the quality of Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Arshavin all attempting to pull the strings behind Bendtner, they failed to create even one first-half chance of significance.

It seemed hard to believe that Arsenal could be less effective after the interval, but they were immediately forced to soak up further pressure.

The main threat continued to come from Priskin, who was causing persistent problems for the suspect centre-back partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou.

Koscielny completely missed one high ball that Priskin almost pounced upon and then Djourou was fortunate not to be caught in possession.

Chants of ‘We’re going to score in a minute’ reflected Ipswich’s dominance. Wenger eventually made some changes, bringing off a tired-looking Wilshere and a completely ineffective Bendtner.

It prompted a marginal improvement, with Walcott just unable to lift his finish above Marton Fulop after he darted inside the Ipswich defence.

Fabregas then just failed to convert Kieran Gibbs’ inviting cross before Ipswich scored the goal that their performance had completely merited.

Arsenal’s defence were again unable to deal with a simple through-ball as Priskin got behind Djourou and kept his composure to direct the ball inside Szczesny’s post.

The only downside to a memorable night for Ipswich is the thought that Carling Cup semi-finals are two-legged affairs. For all the euphoria, they will still be odds against to complete the job at the Emirates on Jan 25.

Jeremy Wilson (The Telegraph)

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