A double from stand in captain Robin Van Persie and an own goal by Gray helped Arsenal through to the fourth round of the FA Cup against a spirited Plymouth side who scored through Karl Duguid.
It was a convincing by Arsenal although they would be pretty unhappy about not keeping a clean sheet against the Championship outfit.
Arsene Wenger started with his familiar 4-4-2 lining up Van Persie with Bendtner while Ramsey and Diaby had their chance to show their true worth in the centre of midfield.
There was a fluidity about Arsenal’s first half play without being too effective. Nasri and Eboue would come in centrally allowing interchange in wide areas between attackers and midfielders. The problem was the play either became congested or with the attackers leaving the box, no real presence in the centre. It could be a ploy worth working on with the correct players however and one which the reserves have been implementing.
Diaby and Ramsey played some neat passes but the two positionally and on the organisation side could be better. The former in particular looked very relaxed but we all knew if he stepped it up a gear, things could have happened. Instead Arsenal went into the break goalless and would have been relieved for Van Persie’s header early in the second half. The Dutchman was left unmarked to power home from the corner.
Debutant Gray doubled Arsenal’s lead with an own goal from Van Persie’s cross however Plymouth found an unlikely way back as Fabianski went for a cross which he failed to get a hand to. The Polish keeper had a good game but seems to want to come for every cross possible highlighting his confidence in his ability in coming out.
Arsenal were not at their best today but the deployment of Nasri in the centre on 70 minutes saw a better Gunners side, the Frenchman bursting through on several occasions and linked play well. Gibbs made some good crosses from left back but the match still highlighted the need for a winger and improvements creatively and at times positionally, in central midfield.
Arsenal: Fabianski (7), Sagna (7), Gallas (7), Djourou (7), Silvestre (6) [Gibbs (7)], Eboue (6) [Vela (6)], Diaby(6), Nasri (8)*, Ramsey (6), Van Persie (8), Bendtner (6) [Wilshere (6)]
Subs not used: Almunia, Adebayor, Bischoff, Randall.
Plymouth: Larrieu, Cathcart, Seip, Gray, Barker, Clark, Summerfield, Duguid, Mackie, Gallagher, Fallon.Subs: Saxton, Timar, Folly, MacLean, Doumbe, Noone, Mpenza.