Result: Oxford United 0–3 Arsenal
Competition: FA Cup
Date: 9 January 2023
Venue: Kassam Stadium
Arsenal XI: Turner, Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Elneny, Lokonga, Vieira, Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah
Subs: Hein, White, Zinchenko, Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Marquinhos, Butler-Oyedeji
A header from Mo Elneny and a clinical brace by Eddie Nketiah helped Arsenal ease past Oxford United to set up a mouthwatering FA Cup 4th round clash with Manchester City.
The Gunners were pretty lacklustre in the opening 45 minutes but turned up the heat after the break and ultimately made light work of a tricky opponent.
Mikel Arteta made seven changes from the side that started the 0-0 draw with Newcastle. Matt Turner made his first appearance since October replacing Aaron Ramsdale in goal behind a much-changed defence that only retained Gabriel Magalhaes. His usual partner, William Saliba, stayed back in London. Mo Elneny was tasked with anchoring the midfield with Fabio Vieira and Sambi Lokonga providing the ammunition for Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah. Emile Smith Rowe returned to the squad for the first time since September but had to settle for a place on the bench.
Underwhelming is probably the best way to describe Arsenal’s start to the game. There was little fluency on the ball from the men in all-white and with Oxford also struggling to retain possession, it made for a scrappy first 10 minutes. Both sets of fans looked to make their own entertainment, loudly trading chants from three sides of the Kassam Stadium; the other was a car park with a few lads standing on top of a van. Welcome to League One facilities.
Slowly but surely, we started to get a foothold in the game focusing on the wide areas with long ball switches of play. Tomiyasu, collecting a pass from Saka on the overlap, should have done better with a low cross but put it too close to keeper McGinty who claimed with ease. On the other side, Martinelli probed with Tierney in support.
Saka took a hefty knock to his ankle from his marker Brown and the home fans didn’t like it when Oxford sportingly kicked the ball out of play. The winger got up gingerly without receiving treatment. On either side, Tomiyasu also took a couple of blows to the face. The home side was keen to make it a physical affair and we needed to stand up and be counted.
Had VAR been available they might have taken a second look at a Lokonga shot that appeared to strike the arm of an Oxford player throwing himself at the ball. Arsenal appealed vehemently but the referee, David Coote, waved them away.
All in all, it was far too ponderous from Arsenal with the side spending too much time knocking the ball around at the back and not progressing it up the pitch with any pace. Our best chance of the half came on 43 minutes when Nketiah diverted the ball over the bar from close range after a long throw by Tierney fell to him in a crowded box.
In the opening moments of the second period, Nketiah had a great opportunity to reverse a through ball to Vieira but he held on to the ball too long and we ended up going backwards. It summed up our issues in attack. We weren’t decisive enough.
At the other end, Turner needed to be alert to deny striker Taylor as he sprung the offside track to bear down on goal. The American kept his nerve to steal the ball before his opponent could shoot.
Arsenal continued to huff and puff finally creating a chance of note on 54 minutes when Vieira backheeled a pass to Saka who darted inside his man before having a shot blocked by a defender. A series of corners followed with Oxford doing well to defend inswingers from Saka’s left foot.
At the hour mark, Arteta sent for reinforcements, sending on Zinchenko and Xhaka for Tierney and the invisible Lokonga.
Two minutes later, we made the breakthrough. After Martinelli won a foul on the left, Vieira took charge of the set piece and swung in a beautiful cross where Elneny crashed home a header from inside the six-yard box. The Egyptian enjoyed his moment in the limelight with a vigorous celebration in front of the travelling fans. (GOAL! 1-0)
The goal seemed to calm us down and seven minutes later Nketiah killed things off when he calmly rounded the keeper to tuck home. The plaudits have to go to Vieira who claimed a second assist with a perfectly weighted through ball. (GOAL! 2-0)
Arteta switched Saka, who’d just taken another knock, for Smith Rowe and we immediately added a third. This time Martinelli did the legwork carrying the ball through midfield before a cute pass fed Nketiah who applied the deftest of finishes. It was a lovely goal and a moment of quality befitting status as Premier League leaders. (GOAL! 3-0)
Smith Rowe nearly got in on the action but had an effort deflected just wide before Vieira and Tomiyasu were given a breather. Marquinhos and Ben White took the field for the final nine minutes.
You might have thought Arteta would relax but he was his usual energetic self on the touchline, barking instructions whenever he saw something he didn’t like from his players. For the most part, unlike this time last year, the duels were won so he wasn’t too upset.
The first of three encounters with Manchester City awaits but in the short term, attention turns to the north London derby.
oxford rb andersen gona go trophyless for all his life after terrorising martinelli in 3rd round and warming bench for conte the whole of next season.
I guess managing to not get beaten all ends up is the new “terrorizing”.
R.i.p Djed Spence’s career..
Is the theory that Spurs just sign any right-back whose first name begins with Dj?
4 goals in 4 starts is hard to argue with. Keep it up Eddie!
Another brace on Sunday would be just the job.
Spurs fan downvoting comments on an Arsenal forum. Such losers…
I do feel a bit for Lokonga but every time he plays I’m waiting for that moment where he shows us the player he really is and it never really materialises. Tonight the game passed him by again
Agreed. I really wanted it to work out for him, but he just coasts in games.
It’s all the fault of the Belgium national team coach for not picking him ahead of De Bryune.
Agreed, would not surprise me if he was sold in the summer.
Kompany made a strong recommendation when we bought him so perhaps he’s keen on buying him at Burnley
He plays top level game of hide and seek. Not an Arteta player, he will be gone this summer.
First half in particular..Couldn’t be found. Hes actually a very poor version of Elneny which is useless to the squad.
Put some respect on Elneny’s name.
He offered nothing to suggest he deserves a spot in the squad, let alone more playing time. He can’t keep passing up opportunities to put in a performance that proves his worth. A penny for his thoughts.
the lad will pull through, even if not for us. imagine going from anderlecht’s biggest talent to pretty much always our bench and the odd cup game. losing the place in the national team in the progress. he must be really, really down now and needs all the support he can get.
Yep, needs to go somewhere where he’ll play. It was too big a move for him too soon.
I do feel for him to, every player that comes here i want it to work out for them but….
He needs to be moved on. He not shit but hes not any better than Elneny and hasn’t show any ceiling to suggest he can get there. so whats the point.
Professional display, getting the job done. On to the next!
Got there in the end. Lovely goals from Eddie the highlight. Sambi not so much
We need to buy a remplacement for Lokonga
Arsenal bloody awful in the first half but much better in the second.
We’ll have to up our game big time if we are going to get past City.
Vieira MOTM for two great assists. Eddie doing his job now.
Now let’s beat the Spuds!
Didn’t think Vieira did anything outside of those two moments of magic which is of course important but ive been disappointed every time i have seen him play outside of Brentford away, Needs to start imposing his will on games because there is a class player in there.
Maybe you need to look again to see that Arsenal was bullied all through the match before the first goal. I hate to watch this kind of games. And the ref just allowed all the close-line given to our boys.
…if only to stop you moaning…..
Plenty of rust, miscues, and not-quite-enough-quality on display from the second XI. While I was never worried by Oxford’s threat, I did wonder in the first half if the Arsenal would be able to find a way to score. In the end, the win was rather comfortable.
Xhaka on = instant control ! Different look altogether when him & Zinny came on ! Good to see Mo get a goal Gotta love that face of his when he scores. Play Eddie & he scores ! Job done game over … NEXT !!!!
He didn’t even do anything substantial ..Xhaxa’s presence alone changed things dramatically.
Oxford were horrible! Horrible players, horrible fans, horrible stadium and horrible football.
The longer the game went on, the more fizzy orange hypo dwarfs with little bloke syndrome they brought on.
I swear one looked like the “You’re early!” midget with the pocket watch in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
It took a while coming but a good win in the end – with the added benefit of no unwanted reply mixed in with some big PL matches coming up. Praise due to Eddie in particular, I think. Let’s hope his got his scoring boots on again for Sp*rs.
We’re through – which is all that matters in the FA Cup. But I do wish we would move the ball quicker; lately we have slowed down to a snails pace and this habit of taking the ball up to the 18 yard box on the break, only to then turn and pass backwards or across is becoming annoying again. We need to get behind defences more and stand the ball up. That said, kudos to Vieira for a lovely cross for Elneny’s opener and Eddie for his calm and composed finishing. Nice to be in 4th Round and if… Read more »
Never in doubt that Eddie was scoring his 1st once he ran onto the pass, gonna need that kinda movement Sunday cause Romero will just attempt to kick the fuck out of him like he does every striker he faces. First away NLD in a good few years that I’m not going into absolutely bricking it, already had my Spurs mates telling me how we’ll thump them 4-0…not if we play like we did in the 1st half!
I thought the need to move the ball quicker was very evident in the Newcastle game as well
It’s a great cause but please can we never play in white again?
First half was like watching [email protected] in disguise 🤮
That was our worst performance last season losing to Forest wearing that white kit.
Great to see Smith Rowe back. He looks smaller or leaner than I remember. Going to take him some time to get his touch back. Looked like he surprised himself with some of his stray passes.
Let’s go Eddie! Hope he kills it during this January run. So far so good. Vieira with a good second half. When I see Lokonga I remember the All or nothing series where Eddie had to give him a talking to about his attitude, don’t think he’ll be here next season, on loan probably.
I want to see Eddie score WINNING goals. We were already ahead when he got his two tonight. A winner against Newcastle would have been far more special.
I hope he’s not our Lukaku.
That comment doesn’t even make sense, especially the last sentence.
Depends on what you mean by winning goals.
The 3rd goal against West Ham was essentially a winning goal, as it put us out of sight. Even if a goal doesn’t break the deadlock, there can still be pressure on the finish. I think it’s that aspect of winning goals that makes them impressive.
Compete….Something that Arteta said alot in his early days here and he has instilled it in this team. Whenever we haven’t looked great this season im still very unworried because our defence is now reliably solid. But all over the pitch we battle and contest. Even today, Oxford did what all lower league teams do and turn it into a window wipers scrappy game, but we barely shudder anymore. We used to wilt and crumble in the face of tricky things like poor pitches in the cold and wind but now its just an inconvenience. We have come along way… Read more »
The difference when Lokonga and Tierney came off for Xhaka and Zinchenko was huge.
I really find it hard to see why Kompany and Thierry rated Lokonga so highly, he’s not awful but not really exceptional at anything, not pressing, not tackling, not breaking lines, not dribbling and not even metronomic one-touch passing like Elneny.
It could be lack of playing that effects confidence though as Tierney has definately also dropped a level but I think in his defence, he’s probably suffering from not fitting into Arteta’s style that well.