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Middlesbrough (1) 2 - 2 (1) Arsenal

(aet. Boro win 3-1 on penalties)

Riverside Stadium. Tuesday November 30th 1999, kick-off 7.45

Worthington (League) Cup 4th round


Preview

  • Arsenal team news
    Patrick Vieira is suspended, as are Keown and Ljungberg.
    Don't know yet about the other absentees from Sunday's match. Lee Dixon was reported to be fit again for that match but didn't appear, so maybe he was being rested for this one. Perhaps Seaman was just being rested too, although given the importance Wenger puts on the Worthington Cup it wouldn't be a surprise to see Manninger get another outing anyway.
    Up front there's a godo chance we'll see Henry again, Wenger said after the Derby match that he took Thierry off because he'll be playing again on Tuesday. But then again, we're getting used to taking Wenger's team predictions with a pinch of salt.
    According to Soccernet and other sources, Wenger has said that Stefan Malz will be in the starting line-up (following his impressive finish to the game as a sub against Derby).
    The big danger surely, is that we could go into this match with too much confidence following our 5-1 win 10 days ago.
    Update Tuesday
    According to AFCi we have a few extra absentees. Petit , Overmars and Adams are all being rested. Seaman (calf), Dixon (groin), Bergkamp (groin) and Kanu (sickness are all also unavailable (although there is slight hope that Kanu will be well in time). In addition to the suspensions listed above, Stephen Hughes is cup-tied having played in the competition for Fulham during his loan spell (shame he can't be loaned back to them for a night to help them against Tottenham tomorrow!).
    Martin Keown is listed as injured on the Sporting Life site but not on AFCi's team news page.
    So it's not going to be as easy as last time. Possible team:
    Manninger; Luzhny Upson Grimandi Winterburn;
    Parlour Vivas Vernazza Malz;
    Suker Henry
    If Keown is fit he'll play in defence with Grimanid moving into one of the midfield positions.
    Also, there's a slight chance that Jermaine Pennant could get a game. This is his last chance to become Arsenal's youngest ever player as today, at 16 years 320 days, he's only 1 day younger than Gerry Ward was when he faced Huddersfield in the 1st division in 1953. But there are plenty of players in the pecking order ahead of Pennant so it's a question of how sentimental Doctor Wenger is feeling today!

  • Middlesbrough team news
    Boro are at a low ebb having been lucky to get away with a 0-0 draw with Wimbledon at the weekend.
    Pallister may be fit (he was reported to be a possible for Saturday's game but wasn't even on the bench). According to TeamTalk he's 50-50 for the Arsenal game. There's tension in the ranks, with the fans singing "you don't know what you're doing" at Bryan Robson after he substituted Juninho after an hour.
    Phil Stamp is back from injury, and they'll also have Christian Ziege and Keith O'Neill available (both of whom were suspended from their last drubbing.
    Update Tuesday
    Palliester has had to withdraw from the squad with a recurrence of his back injury.

  • UK TV/Radio coverage
    No live coverage (Sky have West Ham vs Birmingham) but there's highlights later on ITV (11.30 on Carlton: check listings for other areas).
    There's a good chance it'll be on the radio though (especially Capital).

  • See also


Middlesbrough (1) 2 - 2 (1) Arsenal

(aet. Boro win 3-1 on penalties)

Riverside Stadium. Tuesday November 30th 1999, kick-off 7.45

Scorers:
   Ricard 8, 83         Henry 38
                        Suker 80

Arsenal:
           Manninger
Vivas Upson Luzhny (Weston) Silvinho
Black (Pennant) Vernazza Parlour (Cole) Malz
        Suker Henry

The formation above might not be quite right. I only got to listen to this one on the radio.

Some of us will feel that it's always a shame to lose the relatively easy chance of a trophy. But if a trophy's that easy, how worthwhile is it? If we were given the chance to enter the Leyland DAF Windscreens Trophy (or whatever it's called now) would any of us think it's worth the trouble?

No, it's been made quite clear that this trophy is not considered a priority to Arsenal. Its attraction as a route to Europe is something of a red herring, since should Arsenal fail to qualify for the UEFA Cup through the league there will be more pressing questions to be answered than why we fielded a weakened side in the Legaue Cup.

Today I'm sure, most Arsenal fans will be celebrating the fact that in this match we blooded 4 teenagers, 4 home-grown talents, and that none of them looked out of place in a second-string Arsenal team containing 7 international players. An Arsenal team which outplayed a Boro side that, despite being the same side which lost 5-1 to our first team 10 days ago, nevertheless contained quite a lot of experienced and supposedly talented footballers. In the end sadly, it was their experience which took them through on penalties having clung on for a draw. See Reserves and Youths pages for information about these youngsters: biog details, appearances, and reports of matches they've been involved in)

It didn't start so well though. Boro's big strikers Deane and Ricard caused us trouble form the off. Luzhny looked in trouble when beaten by the bounce but he did well to get back and deny Deane.

Then a couple of awful back-passes put Ricard in but he failed to capitalise. The first, from Vernazza, left Ricard clear on the edge of the box. Manninger made the save but shouldn't really have been given a chance.

A bit later Wenger moved Parlour back to a holding role in front of the back 4 to give them some protection, and protection also for Vernazza. By playing him in front of Parlour there was less chance that his errors would prove critical. But before that Boro were ahead. Deane flcked on and Ricard turned Upson (who was a bit too tight to him) and his shot zipped off the turf to beat Manninger (who probably won't be happy with his attempt at a save).

Tommy Black was the only debutant to start the match, and he had a fine game on the right. One excellent run and cross ended with Malz stooping to head over, and he got whacked in the face for his troubles. Suker had a couple of shots in the first half hour, both on target but both forcing only the softest of saves from Schwarzer.

Then Vivas passed ball towards Henry 30 yards out. Ince intercepted but the Frenchman nicked the ball off him and hit an explosive drive completely out of the blue which gave the keeper no chance at all.

The second first-timer came on then, Rhys Weston replacing Luzhny to form a central defensive pair with Upson.

With the half drawing to a close we had a close call when Manninger came out to make a clearance and (as he is still prone to do when forced to rush) hit it straight at an opposition player (Ricard). Fortunately it went out for a goal kick.

Juninho and Ziege linked up well at the start of the 2nd half, an exchange of first-time passing ending with the Brasilian firing high. Just after, Weston showed great composure with a classy tackle on Juninho.

A great run from Henry followed by an intelligent ball along the edge of the box (past Suker's space-making run) created a good chance for Black, but he side-footed it wide. A little later Pennant made history, coming on for Black.

With 10minutes to go Henry followed his 3 goals in 3 days by creating one for Suker with a shot which Schwarzer messed up, spilling it for the Croatian to stab home from close range. But before you knew it they were level, Henry inexplicable handling the ball in a less-then-dangerous position on the goal-line. Ricard stepped up to put the penalty past Manninger.

Alex made amends shortly after with a good save from Juninho, but then came possibly the most significant moment of the night, with regard to the season, when Parlour went down clutching his leg after going down awkwardly under a challenge from Phil Stamp. Ashley Cole came on for Ray and went into the left back position with Silvinho stepping up into midfield. Parlour, captain for the night (anyone see who got the armband when he went off? Vivas? Suker?), faces an X-ray to determine how seriosu the trouble is. He left the pitch on a stretcher and the stadium on crutches. More news on the NewsReel as it comes in.

Extra time started with a well-struck daisy-cutter from Vernazza which Jonathan Pearce on the radio acclamied as a goal. Then he said it had been disallowed and it took his co-commentator to point out that it had actually missed the goal and caught the side-netting!

Vernazza showed more great skill shortly aftre. Receiving a pass from Malz he chipped the ball to himsefl over a defender but the shot was blocked.

By now Arsenal were by far the better side, in passing and movement. The seocnd period of extra time started with a shot by Silvinho after he'd shown great quick feet on the edge of the box to make the chance for himself. But Schwarzer was equal to it.

Then Rhy Weston brought Juninho donw in the box and the ref blew for a penalty. But no, Pearcey got it wrong again. Who can blame him though? It's so rare to see a ref book a player for diving when it's blatant, never mind when it looks like he was brought down!

Then Suker created a great chance to put us back ahead. He pulled awya from the defender (Vickers?) on the edge of the box on the left, received the pass, lifted it over the defender and tried to poke under the keeper with his left foot only to see it go wide. Possibly he should have tried hitting it with his right foot, but who am I to tell Davor Suker how to score a goal!?

Ince was brought off by Robson and looked unhappy with it. But with penalties looming those of us who remember "The Guvnor"'s spineless reaction to that situation at the end of the Euro96 semi-final were not so surprised. And for the same reason, it was no surprise to see Gascoigne being brought on soon after.

The ref came to our rescue one more time. Ricard had the ball in the net after Manninger had been very hesitant in coming to meet him and half tunred his back. But the ref spotted that he'd punched it in. It looked just as easy to head it.

So penalties it was and I have to say I had little doubt about who would win them. They may have been outclassed for long spells by our youngsters but there's no substitute for an old head in that situation. And while Manninger is a fine goalie, he is no Seaman when it comes to the spot kicks.

Suker scored for us, but Vivas and Upson both saw theirs saved by Shwarzer diving low to his left, and in between Silvinho hit his wide to the same side. For Boro Ricards cored the first and then there was Ziege and Gazza (both with experience of openalty shoot-outs at the highest level).

After the save from Silvinho which won them the game, the Boro players ran to congratulate Schwarzer. They ran further and faster then than in the whole of extra time.

There have been several different figures reported for Pennant's age (including by us at Arseweb). For the record books, yesterday was 319 days after his 16th birthday. He thus beats the previous record by 2 days.

A couple of upshots: the good news is that we won't have to play 3 games in 5 days in the middle of December now that we don't have a quarter-final to play (so moving the Blackpool FA Cup tie to the Monday looks a better move than it did). But the bad news is that Patrick Vieira will miss an additional match in the league (Coventry away on Boxing Day) since he won't serve the quarter-final as part of his 213 match suspension.

report by Rupe.


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