Gunners survive scare to beat Shrewsbury

After surviving the shock of falling a goal behind to their League Two opponents, struggling Arsenalcame back to beat Shrewsbury Town 3-1 and comfortably progress into the fourth round of the Carling Cup at the Emirates Stadium.

The visitors stunned the Emirates crowd after 16 minutes when James Collins’s bullet header beat Lukasz Fabianski, and a major upset looked to be possible.

However the sides went in level at the break when Kieran Gibbs equalised when he nodded home a Carl Jenkinson cross, and the giant-killing threat was finally extinguished in the second half thanks to first Gunners goals from summer signings Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Yossi Benayoun.

With first-team places up for grabs as Arsenal languish in the lower reaches of the Premier League table, Arsene Wenger would have been pleased with the performances of his three goalscorers, with teenage prodigy Oxlade-Chamberlain marking his first start with an encouraging display.

Despite a rocky season so far, the Gunners started the game brightly and Marouane Chamahk had two great chances to give his side an early advantage but was thwarted on both occasions by the reflexes of Ben Smith in the Shrewsbury goal.

With a strong side facing them and 46,000 in attendance it looked as though Shrewsbury were suffering with stage fright in the early stages, however on a rare foray forward Mark Wright saw a low shot beat Fabianski and hit the far post, with Collins unable to divert the rebound home.

That one glimmer of hope sparked the visitors in action and suddenly the side confidently stroking the ball around the park in North London was not Arsenal. Graham Turner’s men were rewarded on 16 minutes when a pinpoint cross by Marvin Morgan was expertly headed past Fabianski by Collins.

Clearly stunned from the setback, Wenger’s side continued to be outplayed by their League Two opponents for the next 10 minutes, and tricky winger Lionel Ainsworth was next to test his luck as he shot wide from 25 yards.

With their confidence at rock-bottom given the past few weeks, slowly but surely a nervous Arsenal side began to rediscover their usual swagger, and showed their Premier League class to equalise on 33 minutes when their full-backs combined as Gibbs converted Jenkinson’s cross.

Having criticised his side on Monday for their lacklustre start to the season, Wenger must have been fuming at half-time as a side packed with top-flight experience were being held by a side three divisions below them. Whatever was said in the home dressing room clearly did the trick as the Gunners came out firing in the second half.

Having bossed the opening exchanges, Oxlade-Chamberlain found himself celebrating his first goal since arriving from Southampton for £15m on 58 minutes, however Smith will not look back favourably on his night out at the Emirates as he allowed a speculative shot to squirm under his body and into the net.

That goal saw the self-belief drain from the visitors, and Benayoun wrapped the tie up when he converted substitute Oguzhan Ozyakup’s cut-back to make it 3-1, and ensure the re-building work in North London can now commence following a troublesome start to the season.

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