Orient give Wenger's men a taste of their own medicine
Leyton Orient 1 Arsenal 1
Monday 21 February 2011
Popular myth would have it that the famously fastidious Arsène Wenger spends his spare time watching DVDs of obscure lower-division matches from across Europe in the hope of uncovering yet another unheralded young talent. But even he had not heard of the 26-year-old Frenchman Jonathan Téhoué until about 6pm yesterday evening.
He has now. It was Téhoué who scored a magnificent 88th-minute goal that earned Leyton Orient a famous FA Cup fifth-round draw with the mighty Arsenal yesterday and a lucrative replay for his impecunious club at the Emirates a week on Wednesday. Not to mention the very slim possibility of a quarter-final at Old Trafford.
With Arsenal leading through Tomas Rosicky's 53rd-minute goal, Téhoué came on as a late substitute and turned the game on its head before scoring the goal that changed the course of Orient's season. "No, I didn't know him [Téhoué], I first saw him when he came on," Wenger said yesterday. "I had never heard of him before."
Téhoué arrived at Orient on trial one year ago having played for seven clubs including some in France, Belgium and Turkey where he was involved in a contract dispute which prevented him from signing for Huddersfield Town three years ago. "Forget David Fairclough, this is the super-sub!" said his manager Russell Slade yesterday and the statistics back that up: Téhoué has scored all his eight goals this season after the 85th-minute mark.
The closest Téhoué had come to the stars of the Arsenal team before yesterday was playing at the French club Bastia when Alex Song, who featured yesterday, was there as a young player. He denied the internet rumour that he is a cousin of the Arsenal full-back Emmanuel Eboué – an unused substitute yesterday – although he said the two were friends.
Téhoué came off a long spell with injury last year and Slade has not been confident enough to play him from the start. The player himself admitted he was "four to five kilos overweight" although it did not look that way when he slipped between Ignasi Miquel and Kieran Gibbs before slotting a shot underneath Manuel Almunia.
Téhoué already has an FA Cup reputation having scored a late equaliser against Droylsden in the second round and a further three in extra-time of that game. He presented himself for interview afterwards, a polite and modest bloke who paid due tribute to the grand old competition he had just set alight. "Even in France people watch the FA Cup," he said. "It means a lot to me and it definitely means a lot to the club."
Given that Orient have lost just once in the last 21 games it was perhaps no surprise that they could achieve what Barcelona failed to do on Wednesday and get a draw against Arsenal. Wenger took a gamble and changed all but Song from the team that achieved that famous win last week and for his troubles now has another game for a side that has played 42 already this season.
Gracious towards Orient, Wenger conceded that his side has had difficulty "finishing off" lower-league teams in the cup competitions this season, including Ipswich Town and Leeds United. "The most negative side of this result is that we have to play another fixture and in fairness that is not what we need," he said.
"We have had problems with all the teams we have faced in cup competitions this year and we have had to work hard to finish them off. But you have to give credit to Leyton Orient."
He described the prospect of playing Manchester United in the next round as "interesting" but in reality that is a tie that neither he nor Sir Alex Ferguson would want. Arsenal play Stoke on Wednesday, the Carling Cup final on Sunday, then squeeze Orient in a week on Wednesday before they play Sunderland on 5 March. The game in the Nou Camp is three days later.
It is a hectic schedule but at least they are still alive in all four competitions. They would rather that than the gloomy finales to seasons they have experienced in the last five years when there has been nothing to play for.
Wenger gave a debut to the 18-year-old Miquel who has been at the club's academy since September 2008 and the Catalan-born defender looked very composed until the moment that Téhoué broke past him and scored.
Slade admitted that there were periods of the game, especially in the first half, when his side were denied the ball. However, Orient hung on. There was a good performance from the former Arsenal trainee Ben Chorley at centre-half and his defensive partner Terrell Forbes.
Andrei Arshavin was the best of Arsenal's front three with Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner both lacking sharpness. With his bench comprising of seven players who had started the Barcelona game – including Jack Wilshere and Cesc Fabregas –Wenger must have been considering a change when at last Arsenal broke through.
Rosicky headed in Bendtner's cross from the right. Rosicky should have scored a second later but the Orient goalkeeper Jamie Jones saved well and got up for the rebound.
Then, on came Téhoué with 27 minutes remaining. He left Song behind on a run down the left wing and his cross was met by Alex Revell who couldn't keep his shot on target. He provided again for Revell whose shot hit Sébastien Squillaci in the face. On the third occasion, Téhoué went alone and scored a famous goal. Whether he starts in eight days' time still remains to be seen.
Subs: L Orient Carroll 6 (Crowe, h-t), Téhoué 7 (McGleish, 63), M'Poku (Revell,84). Unused Butcher (gk), Omozusi, Mike, Kane.
Arsenal none. Unused Szczesny (gk), Koscielny,
Clichy, Eboué, Fabregas, Nasri, Wilshere. Booked: L Orient Whing. Arsenal Denilson. Man of the match Arshavin. Match rating 6/10. Possession L Orient 41% Arsenal 59%. Attempts on target L Orient 4 Arsenal 12. Referee K Friend (West Midlands). Att 9,136.
* Stoke v West Ham/Burnley
* Man City v Everton/Reading
* Birmingham v Bolton
* Man Utd v Leyton Orient/Arsenal
* Ties to be played over the weekend of the 12/13 March
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