Ramsey celebrated like he just got on a bus

After the final weekend of the Premier League, Sam Limbert is joined by James Bale and Rob Starr to talk about Arsenal’s game with Norwich, the manager situation at Manchester United and Tottenham, and discuss the England World Cup squad.
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Carl Jenkinson lives the fan's dream

For the majority of Arsenal’s final Premier League game of the season at Norwich City, it felt like the dead rubber that it was. Norwich were virtually down and Arsenal were trying to not over-exert themselves before the FA Cup final. However in the second half, there were a few brilliant moments for Arsenal to close the league season.
There have been many ‘what if’ questions about Aaron Ramsey in the last few weeks, especially when the Gunners only finished seven points off the top of the table, and the 2-0 win at Carrow Road only served to provide another chance to ponder those questions. As Arsenal stepped up the tempo in the second half to try and get something from the game, Olivier Giroud found some space on the left and picked out the Welshman on the right side of the penalty area. Ramsey’s volley was sensational. No goalkeeper would have saved it as the ball went perfectly into the top corner. One TV angle from behind the goal showed how pure the strike of the ball was. He may have been missing at key times in the season with injury, but Ramsey is peaking again before the cup final.
If the Ramsey goal was a superb piece of skill, Arsenal’s second goal was one that was a beautiful moment in another way. Carl Jenkinson is living the fan’s dream just by playing in the Arsenal team. His family are Gooners and he grew up at Highbury. When the ball broke to him in the penalty area and he found the bottom corner, albeit via a deflection, the joy on his face was superb. He charged off, arms out-stretched, towards the travelling fans, as if he’d scored the winner in the cup final. It was just how any Arsenal fan would react when scoring for their boyhood club. Jenkinson is someone all fans can relate to, and to see him score his first goal was brilliant.
The final great moment at Carrow Road was the introduction off the substitute’s bench of Abou Diaby. The French midfielder is inspirational in the way he has fought back from numerous career great ending injuries, so to see him get some minutes was great. He’s a player that some think Arsenal should cut their losses on because of his injury record, but there were some good touches in his Norwich cameo, and a reminder that he has a presence in midfield that no other Arsenal player can provide. At his best, he can motor through midfield and glide past players. The response he got from the superb travelling fans was all a bit emotional. Even though it was a dead-rubber match, this was an uplifting moment.
The Arsenal team selection was interesting for the game, with Per Mertesacker and Santi Cazorla rested. Lukasz Fabianski started in goal, implying to me that Wojciech Szczesny will start at Wembley in the FA Cup final, despite not playing in the competition this season. It would be harsh on Fabianski, but when he’s virtually out the door this summer, I don’t have a problem with Arsene Wenger picking his number one at Wembley.
Bacary Sagna also started at centre-back, and put in a performance that reminded Arsenal fans how much he’ll be missed. He’s an exception defender, and his versatility is useful. As I said last week after the West Brom match, I really hope it isn’t a farewell, but the signs aren’t good.
Wenger generally picked a stronger team than I expected ahead of Wembley, but there didn’t appear to be any injuries, so it was positive that most of the key men for the final were able to sharpen their match fitness. Arsenal have won five in a row going into the final, so have momentum and form.
Even though he probably won’t play in the showpiece game, Arsenal also have a proper Gooner in the squad. After seeing his reaction to scoring at Carrow Road, it’s hard to fathom just how mental Carl Jenkinson would go if he did score the winner in the cup final. If he did, all Arsenal fans would be with him.

Fringe players don't pass the first-team test

In reality, Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat on Tuesday night was just the Capital One Cup. It doesn’t affect being top of the league and it was against a good team. However that doesn’t mean it’s not annoying or painful to see Chelsea coming to the Emirates and winning.
After going ahead following a defensive error from Carl Jenkinson, Chelsea displayed typical Mourinho tactics by shutting off the game and being clinical when given the chance to score a second goal. They time wasted, sat deep and closed the game out. It was painfully professional if not exciting.
After only playing two days prior to the match, Chelsea did make changes, but the depth of their pockets and the strength of their squad meant that they were still able to call on big money players like Willian, David Luiz and Juan Mata. Arsenal did make changes, but not as many as expected with some of the youngsters that might have been given a chance, such as Serge Gnabry and Thomas Eisfeld, missing through injury. Almost through necessity rather than choice, Arsene Wenger fielded a team that included Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky.
The Gunners also included Nicklas Bendtner up front, with Olivier Giroud needing a rest before the big week that includes Liverpool, Dortmund and Manchester United. Given that it’s only the end of October, I don’t really want to be thinking about the January transfer window, but it’s difficult to not have it pass my mind after seeing Bendtner’s performance on Tuesday night.
It wasn’t without effort, but Bendtner struggled to link up play, hold the ball up for the Gunners to relieve any pressure or be in the box as a target man for crosses. In fairness to him, especially after Chelsea scored, the Blues’ defensive mindset made it difficult for him to impose himself on the game, but he still struggled against Luiz and Cahill. The game was just proof that Bendtner has to just be a stop-gap striker until a better option is brought to the club in January.
This season, Olivier Giroud is the player Bendtner could have been if he’d not let his ego get in the way and he’d really put his head down and worked hard. The Dane might be an option from the bench against lesser opposition, but when facing teams like Chelsea, Giroud has to stay fit, otherwise Arsenal will miss having a proper focal point up front in the team.
The other fringe player who had a night to forget was Carl Jenkinson. He’s never a player that can be doubted for his effort and commitment to the team, but his performance on Tuesday should be a hint to the club to get Bacary Sagna’s contract sorted before for beyond the end of this season.
Chelsea’s opening goal came from Jenkinson’s painfully short header back towards Lukasz Fabianski in the Arsenal goal, allowing Cesar Azpilicueta to score. He also misplaced too many passes, didn’t look calm in possession and showed a rawness that had been growing out of his game. He will improve and could eventually be Arsenal’s first choice right-back, but he’s not ready yet, meaning Sagna has to offered a good deal to make him stay and help guide Jenkinson in his development.
After the defeat to Dortmund, the Chelsea game was another reminder to this Arsenal team to be ready for the next three huge games. If they come out of the three coming games with good results, no-one will care about a Capital One Cup defeat to Chelsea. If Arsenal don’t, the old questions about the ability to beat the big teams will reappear despite the good start to the season.