By Randy Osae
Arsenal’s tender Carling Cup aspirations came to a harsh end at Turf Moor on Tuesday night after a fatal brace from Kevin McDonald.
As anticipated, Arsene Wenger plotted a very youthful side to see out this quarter-final. But this time, the grit away from the Emirates was too much to handle for the kids who had been luminous all this tourney.
Alex Song and Johan Djourou were the missing faces in an XI which saw old head Mikael Silvestre and Paul Rodgers partner as centre-backs. Those were the only changes to the side that gave Wigan a drubbing in the previous round.
Merida had set-up Nicklas Bendtner early on, but the Dane’s dangerous effort was denied by a quick save from Jensen.
And it was Burnley rather who made the dream start. The Gunners failed to fully clear a cross from former United striker, Chris Eagles. Fabianski and the rest of his guards had been caught napping as an available McDonald tapped home a punishment.
That early set-back would never recovered.
Paterson and Blake all tested Fabianski with taming strikes as the hosts took total control. Indeed, Arsenal’s Polish stopper looked daunted on some of those occasions as he constantly failed to keep full grip of the ball.
Burnley were also guilty of being wasteful, and fortunately for the young Gunners, the deficit remained single.
It took 37 minutes for a legitimate Arsenal response. Randall was through courtesy of Bendtner’s pass, but the English midfielder failed to beat Jensen from point blank range.
Vela also had an opportunity to equalize just before half-time, but again, Burnley’s stopper proved very hard to win over.
Five minutes into the second-half, Merida curled a teasing shot just wide after bursting into the home side’s territory.
That proved to be the last chance Arsenal’s kids would gifted to level matters.
And on 57 minutes, a second goal from Burnley put the fight beyond their stretch. McDonald raced onto Eagles’ deep throw and as cool as a cucumber, finished into the far corner of the net past Fabianski. Arsenal’s defense was very blamable for that undoing.
Wenger then introduced Jay Simpson and Amaury Bischoff at the expense of Mark Randall and Jack Wilshere as progression in the competition now deemed almost impossible.
The conquerors of Chelsea in the previous round almost wrapped up the riot with a third goal. But Paterson should have done better than head straight into Fabianski’s arms from close-range.
That chance came with 25 minuets to go, and it did not return to haunt the hosts as Arsenal’s faint bid for a comeback never threatened. But Bendtner should notched a consolation after been sent through by Vela, three minutes from time.
The Dane’s effort went begging, as Arsenal’s Carling Cup tilt finally went crashing.