IPSWICH TOWN 1 ARSENAL 0
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger admitted his side were “poor in every department” as they slid to an embarrassing Carling Cup semi-final first leg defeat at Portman Road.
Championship strugglers Ipswich, thumped 7-0 in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, warranted immense credit for holding an Arsenal side which contained Cesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott.
Indeed, the Tractor Boys deserved to take more than the one goal lead Tamas Priskin’s superbly taken 79th minute strike affords them to Emirates Stadium in a fortnight’s time, when Wenger will hope last night’s wretched display will be rendered irrelevant.
“I think we had an off night,” conceded Wenger (below). “You could see from the start, every single pass was a problem. We rely a lot on our sharp, crisp passing and that was always a problem.
“We were not sharp, not creative and looked vulnerable defensively.
“As a team we didn’t have the wanted performance. I would say in every department we were below our usual level.”
Ipswich afforded Arsenal a near total monopoly of possession but the Gunners were unable to fashion a chance of note in a first-half which saw Ipswich grow in stature the longer it went on.
Priskin fired wide with a rasping effort from distance while 17-year-old Connor Wickham played the role of battering ram with glee.
After the break Arsenal pushed forward with increasing desperation, but with diminishing composure.
The hosts squandered a number of promising situations on the break, but 11 minutes from the end Priskin ran clear of Johan Djourou and beat Wojciech Szczesny with a precise finish.
“I believe we will turn it around but we got a good warning tonight that we have to produce a different performance,” added Wenger. “We lost the game because we didn’t play as well as we can, that will be the lesson.”
WENGER’S LEAGUE CUP WOE
The League Cup is the one domestic honour still missing from the Arsenal manager’s CV. He’s been a loser at the semi-final stage before.
In 2004 Arsenal went onto claim the Premier League title, but an own goal from Jose Antonio Reyes helped Boro to record a 3-1 aggreage win and reach the final in Cardiff.
Paul Jewell was in charge of Wigan in 2006 when a last minute extra-time strike from Jason Roberts sent Wigan to their first major domestic cup final.
Spurs hadn’t beaten their main rivals for nine years in any competition before Aaron Lennon and Robbie Keane helped end that run with a 5-1 win in 2008.