Arsenal 1, West Ham United 0
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he fears a looming injury crisis after seeing Olivier Giroud and Francis Coquelin limp off during his team’s progress to the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
The Gunners overcame West Ham and reached the last four for the first time since 2010-11 with a scrappy first-half goal from striker Danny Welbeck, who ended a 10-match barren run.
But Wenger’s night was tainted by the loss of Giroud and Coquelin to hamstring injuries, with the former expected to be ruled out until mid-January if scans confirm the suspected prognosis on Thursday.
“Overall I think it’s a positive night for us apart from the fact that we lost Olivier Giroud. It [the injury] doesn’t look very good. When you listen to him the pain is quite big,” said Wenger.
“What is very worrying in my job is when you start to lose players like Giroud tonight. Afterwards, you can’t afford to lose another one. So I have to look how I can manage the schedule.”
Giroud is certainly out of Friday’s Premier League match at home to Liverpool, although Wenger said Coquelin, who suffered cramp, could recover in time. Defender Shkodran Mustafi is also expected to be fit again.
Welbeck’s goal was the only shot on target by either side of a tepid contest. West Ham failed to test Arsenal reserve goalkeeper David Ospina, but manager David Moyes was equivocal in his assessment.
“I was disappointed with the quality of our play, but overall we were never out of the game in a cup tie,” he said. “We have conceded one goal to Arsenal in two games now. If you’d said that to me the day I came into the club I might have taken that.”
Both teams made wholesale changes and Moyes said top-flight concerns - the Hammers face fellow strugglers Newcastle, Bournemouth and West Brom next - took precedence.
“The Premier League is the most important thing for all of the teams,” he added. “We put out what was available to us, but we have got big games as well and arguably I’m in a more difficult position than Arsene Wenger is here at Arsenal.”
The Gunners have now won 12 of 15 home games this season but they offered little threat until the 39th minute, when unmarked captain Theo Walcott met Sead Kolasinac’s deep cross but planted his diving header wide.
Welbeck was more effective, although scarcely more convincing, three minutes later. Matthieu Debuchy headed Coquelin’s diagonal ball across goal and the England forward forced the ball home from close range.
Aaron Cresswell’s wayward free-kick early in the second half was the closest that the visitors came to threatening an equaliser, with Arsenal’s biggest concerns of the closing stages being the departures of Giroud and Coquelin.