NAIROBI, Kenya, February 21 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted he had never heard of the player whose late equaliser earned Leyton Orient of League One (third division) a 1-1 draw in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday.Wenger’s fellow Frenchman Jonathan Tehoue came off the bench to score against the Premier League title contenders, who had beaten Barcelona in the Champions League just five days previously.
The 89th-minute goal earned Orient a lucrative replay at the Emirates Stadium on March 2, with both teams having discovered before kick-off that the winners will travel to Manchester United in the quarter-finals.
Arsenal will be huge favourites to come through the tie and move on to Old Trafford but the Gunners had no answer to Tehoue after Tomas Rosicky had headed the visitors in front early in the second half.
The Frenchman beat goalkeeper Manuel Almunia with a low drive from just inside the area that Wenger had not been expecting, even though the Arsenal manager is famed for his encyclopedic knowledge of the game.
"I don’t know him," Wenger admitted. "I saw him when he came on but I never heard a thing before."
Wenger, who made 10 changes from the starting line-up that had come from behind to beat Barcelona, does not always lavish praise on the opposition but did so on this occasion.
"That is what football is about," he said. "I believed we played the game in the right spirit and I cannot fault our fighting spirit but you have to give credit as well to Leyton Orient — they never gave up.
"And if you don’t score the second goal then that kind of thing can happen. It is a disappointment, of course, but we are still in the competition.
"The most important thing is that we go through. Orient showed fighting spirit against a side that was technically superior but in a cup game, fighting spirit has a chance."
Orient manager Russell Slade was understandably delighted with Tehoue’s contribution after replacing Scott McGleish just after the hour mark.
"To be 1-0 down to Arsenal and everything looking like it was slip-sliding away, to get that goal was great timing," said Slade.
"It meant they couldn’t get Cesc Fabregas on or anybody else who might undo us. He (Tehoue) has scored all of his eight goals in the 85th minute onwards. He is our super-sub. He’s our secret weapon — brilliant!"
The player himself revealed why he was always on the bench instead of in the starting line-up.
"I am still overweight," he said. "I had a bad hamstring injury and was out for four months."
Orient owner Barry Hearn will now have to make good on a promise to take the players to Las Vegas if they avoided defeat.
"The lads had Elvis Presley on when he walked in the changing room, singing ‘Viva Las Vegas’," Slade revealed.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have been left with an unwanted extra fixture and the realisation that they have acquired an unwelcome habit of being unable to dispose easily of teams from lower divisions.
"The most negative side of our result today is that it is one more fixture and that’s not what we needed," said Wenger.
"We have had problems with teams from lower divisions to finish them off. We had that problem against Huddersfield, Leeds and Ipswich."