A rare evening for me not spent working on a Saturday night meant I could sit at home and shoot the breeze (albeit alone and in my head) about the state of play down at the Emirates and a few conclusions have been drawn.
Wilshere’s setback has made him anything but “like a new signing” and with only three days left of the open transfer window it looks like we are heading into the business end of the season with the same squad as we’ve had since the madcap close of the last one.
Looking at how that squad has performed and what they seem capable of achieving I can’t help but think that tomorrow is one of the biggest games of our season. To reach that conclusion, we first have to swallow a few bitter pills. Open wide.
The first one is actually quite easy, and won’t be a shock to the system; in case you missed it, we’re out of the Carling Cup already. It’s not a competition that particularly rocks my socks but it would have been nice to have won it last year if only to get that King Kong-sized monkey off our backs: “You haven’t won a trophy in 5 years!”, then, “You haven’t won a trophy in 6 years!” and now, “You haven’t won a trophy in…”.
The point is, we’re out of it and so that’s one cup we can’t lift in 2012.
The second capsule to induce in you Matrix-style revelations about the Arsenal mainframe is that the league is long gone too. Arsene admitted it a while ago, after the Old Trafford mauling I think, and it seems now that a Champions League spot will also be a big test. So a real title is out of reach and a made up one nearly is.
Which begs the question, since when has finishing fourth been deemed an achievement?
The third is that while we are still in the Champions League–I invite you at this junction to pause, face the general direction of Manchester and laugh–and as great as it is to play against Europe’s best (and second and third best) teams, the reality is this squad doesn’t look up to the task of winning it.
Unless Spain’s huge debt means they sell Real Madrid and Barcelona to China to balance the books, our chances are paper-slim. Let’s just enjoy what could be our Champions League swansong.
So, that trio of downers means the FA Cup is our best chance of success this season and it’s one I hope we pull out all the stops for, starting tomorrow. We’ve been on a downward turn for a while now and lifting a trophy could be just what the doctor ordered to get us fighting fit again.
I’m not one for predicting the squad the manager is going to play, I just hope he sends out an eleven to give a signal of intent to the fans that this team are still up for winning something. There’s been a lot of chat online about whether or not we should rest Van Persie and give some fringe players a run out so we can concentrate on the league and Europe. Claptrap.
Winning a cup–especially an esteemed one like the FA Cup–beats merely qualifying for the Champions League any day.
Enjoy the game wherever you watch it tomorrow, and let’s hope we’re still in the cup by the time the match review is being written.
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