Carling Cup - Gunners risking exit thanks to Priskin

Wed, 12 Jan 21:50:00 2011

Ipswich will take a 1-0 lead into the Carling Cup semi-final second leg at Arsenal after Tamas Priskin shocked Arsene Wenger's Gunners at Portman Road.

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With new manager Paul Jewell watching from the stands, Ian McParland took charge of the team for the second time and fared considerably better than he did in Sunday's 7-0 annihilation at Chelsea in the FA Cup.

Few would have predicted an upset as Wenger fielded a strong side, captained by Cesc Fabregas, but the hosts performed with character in front of a near-capacity crowd and nobody can begrudge them a superb victory.

It may, ultimately, count for little as Arsenal still have another 90 minutes to put things right and move within touching distance of their first trophy since 2005, but the Gunners are currently not firing on all cylinders.

After needing a late penalty to stay in the FA Cup at home to Leeds, the swagger and spark is missing from Wenger's title-chasers with Andrei Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtner in particular struggling for form.

And Priskin grabbed the winner with 12 minutes left to stun the Premier League aristocrats.

The Gunners were quickly into their stride with Marton Fulop having to field a Jack Wilshere cross and an Arshavin centre just eluding Fabregas inside the opening couple of minutes.

Although a neat move involving Bendtner, Kieran Gibbs and Fabregas ended in Denilson having a shot blocked by Damien Delaney, the threat from Arsene Wenger's side was gradually eroded.

On the quarter-hour mark, Priskin mustered the best attempt of the first half with a dipping curler from the left that beat Wojciech Szczesny but bounced a yard wide.

At the other end, Theo Walcott was his usual hit-and-miss self, causing problems with his pace but getting a finish all wrong after latching on to a chip by Arshavin.

Ipswich obviously work hard at their set-pieces and Gareth McAuley managed to loop a header over the top while Connor Wickham's long throw-ins kept the Gunners defenders on their toes.

Carlos Edwards almost gifted the Premier League team an opener when slicing towards his own goal but Fulop saved comfortably and the Hungarian was in action again soon afterwards to keep out a Walcott drive from outside the box.

With Fabregas uncharacteristically wasteful from free-kicks, Arsenal struggled to carve out any chances but Wickham teased one delightful cross towards David Norris which just evaded his captain.

The ball was finally in the net when Priskin executed a perfect overhead kick but he was clearly offside in the centre of the goal and it was rightly chalked off.

Walcott showed his skill with one sublime turn that drew an ugly block out of Darren O'Dea and the on-loan defender was rightly booked, putting him under pressure for the second half.

The Town defence had an escape at the start of the second period when Arshavin sprang the offside trap but his finish, on the half-volley, was poor and it proved a let-off. The Russian raced through again soon afterwards but the assistant referee's flag halted his progress.

Mark Kennedy worked Szczesny with an ultra-ambitious long range chip and the Tractor Boys' endeavour started to earn them chances.

Priskin wasted an opportunity to play in Wickham from one break and the Hungarian should have scored when he bore down on goal in the 63rd minute. Laurent Koscielny was caught out by a long ball but Priskin dallied and Emmanuel Eboue got back to crash wide of his own goal.

Wenger highlighted his concern by bringing on Alex Song and Marouane Chamakh and Szczesny was lucky to escape when clearly handling outside his area. With the home crowd still protesting at that incident, Fulop had to be out quickly to block a Walcott effort.

Arsenal really should have broken the deadlock when Gibbs produced an excellent cross which just evaded Chamakh and Fabregas spooned the ball over the bar from close range with his thigh.

It proved a costly miss as, two minutes later, a through ball by Colin Healy released Priskin and he held off Johan Djourou to calmly steer a right-foot finish inside the far post.

Jewell celebrated in the stands and it wasn't a case of merely hanging on for the Suffolk strugglers. Fulop did have to be alert to deny Vela after spilling one shot and he kept out Walcott again from a tight angle but the best chance of the closing stages fell to the hosts.

A huge kick downfield by Fulop found Edwards in acres of space down the right and he cut in to force a decent save out of Szczesny with the angle getting ever tighter.

A second goal really would have asked questions of the Gunners but they remain favourites with the Emirates game still to come. But Jewell has previous history of beating Wenger at this stage of the competition, with Wigan, and he will head to North London with a lead to defend.

Eurosport

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