Getting up for the cup

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.

When we won thingsLooking 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.

— Mark

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  1. First of all, welcome Mark. Was missing all the updates on Arsenal FC Blog, good to see that it’ll be back with more updates now.

    Secondly, I’m sorry mate, but I’m gonna have to totally disagree with you there lol 🙂

    The importance of a competition is defined by the impact it has on the club to attract big players and its financial impact. You are saying winning FA Cup>finishing in top 4 (ie Champions League qualification).

    If we don’t make Champions League, our big players will surely leave. Without Champions League football, players won’t want to join Arsenal either. With the reduced revenue we won’t have the money to buy big players in any case, so it is a vicious cycle as we spiral down without big players further and further away from the Champions League every year. I know it might sound like an overreaction, but thats the reality. Champions League qualification is crucial on so many levels.

    I know winning a trophy is nice, and don’t get me wrong, I am totally for us going all out at winning the FA Cup, but I definitely wouldn’t want to win it at the expense of a Champions League place.

    We are already struggling to sign big players, without Champions League football it will almost be impossible.

    Priority every season should be:

    1 – Premier League/Champions League 2 – Finishing top four in the Premier League 3 – FA Cup 4 – Carling Cup

  2. Welcome Mark! I think that in light of the lack of talent in our squad, it Will be one of Arsene Wenger greatest achievement as a manager if we finish in the top 4 .

  3. Thanks for the pre-match posting Mark,
    I’m afraid I have to agree with Rayed at least in part. As fabled as the FA cup competition is and as much as I’d like to see us lift it again, finishing in the fourth spot in the league should be our ultimate goal.
    Missing out on the Champions League will reverse the course of the team,make it even more difficult to bring and retain top quality players to The Arsenal and even worse will make us second fiddle in North London to you-know-who. And don’t think for a second they won’t rub our noses deep into it.
    This makes it all the more difficult to understand why the management is so remiss to bolster the side with a quality signing or two when so much is at stake. Perhaps Le Boss is playing a deeper game and I am to shallow to grasp it.
    Still, not having won in the league for a month now how deep could it be?

  4. This FA cup is the Last straw that broke a Wenger’s back
    Trophyless History is repeating again based on past 6 years experience
    I’m been disappointed for may years, so this more of a no event to me

  5. Welcome Mark, surely hope AW puts all we can in today’s game. Important game after the league woes. Forever Arsenal. Arsenal, with love

  6. Why so gloomy gooners? At the beginning of the season we were in all the competitions,now we fighting for silverware the fa cup,knowing that spurs,chelsea n liverpool re in it,if anything is to go by we should b praying for them to cancel each other out,to stand a great chance of winning
    I still can believe it that these d grades arshavin,squalluci n djourou can’t find another club,poor us another season with these clowns
    Wilshere setback injury,shouldn’t wenger b in the transfer market buying a left back n defensive\attacking midfielder becoz ramsey has prove to b rubbish,but again wenger is using excuses for not buying,having gibbs come back,get it through your arrogant, stubborn n selfish way wenger you brainwash the fans into believing that 4th place is an achievement for bringing top players,what fucking players,were they shay given,hmmh,juan mata,no!,sami khedira,nope or kaka,neva probably,getting paid well n winning trophies bring in quality players,just ask liverpool n man city come on gooners wake the fuck up!,in wenger we rust.

  7. Hey all, nice preview Mark.

    It’s been such a strange season, I’d love to win the FA Cup and I hope Wenger plays a strong team. But with Bolton just a few days away I think there will be a measure of balance when it comes to the starting team.

    Fourth seems to be slipping away from us at the moment, hopefully things will turn around. Best just to enjoy the ride.

  8. Well I do agree with most of you, the damage that finishing outside the top is incalculable . I don’t understand given so much at stake no one in the club is ringing the alarm bells. Wenger is on his way to completely erase all the gains this club has made over the last year.
    I can only see one positive if we don’t make the CL next season, Wenger will have to go! A new manager brought in who is hungry to win trophies.
    The dynamic at a club should always be the manager asking for more funds and being told there is not enough funds. The manager’s worry should not be to keep expenses low. This is the world upside down!
    Another thing imagine the confidence and financial boost our rival finish in the top 4. Given the stakes the fans have been too silent, it is time to make our voices heard.

  9. There is nothing more to say,if something is wrong change to avoid it from happening again,can’t remember when we bang in a convince score of six nil or so,aston villa is just other team that’s doing badly but we still struggle against them just completely sad
    TishSa re u from south africa?
    Gunfest u stand corrected,far to long we allowed wenger to rule over »scotland«(arsenal)

  10. @leftcoastgooner and Rayed Mamun: I also understand the importance of the Champions League and don’t get me wrong it’s definitely a competition I want to remain in. I was looking at the Arsenal in the context of this year and I think we stand a great chance of winning the cup and that’s something I want to see us really try for. I also don’t think going out of Europe will be the big catastrophe it’s being made out to be. Retaining top quality players? People say we need to stay in Europe to keep RVP but it didn’t stop Nasri, Cesc, Adebayor, Ashley Cole and bunch of others from leaving and unfortunately simply being in Europe hasn’t attracted the same type of player in the opposite direction (with the possible exception of Arshavin).

    Financially I also don’t think it’s such a big deal, the Arsenal board said a few weeks ago they’ve budgeted for a season or two without the Champions League revenue, so we’ll be able to cope.

    I guess the salient point of the preview is that winning something could be the remedy to our slump in form. If it means we lose a Champions League place then so be it, we can get back in the year after just like those lot on the other side of North London look to be doing.

    @wenger nightmare: I agree, with the injuries we have, the void of action in the transfer market is very frustrating but becoming an all too familiar story.

    Thanks for the baptism of fire guys! And enjoy the game later today.

    Come on the Arsenal.

  11. Welcome aboard Mark. I think he has to balance the squad and try to win every game. I have seen it so many times before when we get win momentum going and then lose our way because we have put out a weakened squad and lost. Of course we are on a losing streak now do lets get back on track today.
    Go Gunners

  12. @ Mark T
    The Arsenal board has said a lot of things over the past seven seasons and some them conflicting.
    Still we have not won anything during this time. The team clearly seems to be heading in the wrong direction and the only thing we hear is that it is “not a disaster”. Is this how a club ought to be run?
    Never-the-less a few wins in a row would be just the tonic and what better time to start than now.

  13. I know its only half time but what the hell is wenger teaching these players our defending is quite shocking!!!!!!

  14. welcome mark, enjoyed your 1st piece.
    2-0 down at half time..this team just cant defend and the attacking is so deliberate its maddening…we no longer have a counter attack because rvp hasnt the pace and is all to often alienated and defenders are just showing him down his non existant right side.
    Song is woefully inept and has been for a while now, the freedom opposition get at the Emirates is ridiculous.
    Nothing on the bench either TH 14 cant be expected to change much.
    Mark you looked for intent? I cant remember the last time Iv seen any from this lot. They are so carefree its unreal…whos gonna show some resonsibility and pride?

  15. 2-2.. high pressing high tempo runnin putting the opposition on the back foot…INTENT.
    What a difference it makes…why do we have to go 2 down to play thos aggressive…Ramsey runnin the middle now…please dont drop the intensity now!

  16. Its a win alright but not a win worth jumping up and down,poor defending and hardwork led to an exciting climax,a win to get pass villa but not an arsenal win with the help of two penalties n a deflection something uncommon at the grove!well done boys what it does for the boys don’t know?hoping it change fortunes for us

  17. I hope we can look back at this game as a defining moment for the club and the manager because if we had lost this game he would be in real trouble.
    Its wins like these that turn a season so lets hope for the best

  18. @The flyingdutchmen
    Come on Dutch, how many times have you seen us go down by two goals and just fold up? It was not the greatest comeback of all times but Christ Almighty we got it done when we needed to.
    Maybe this will rub off on our league adventures and who knows we might figure out a way to finish in the top four. Yes we are too predictable and yes Fabianski is doo-doo and perhaps the manager has lost the plot.
    But a win is a win is a win. YEAAAAAAAAH!!!!! GO YOU GUNNERS!!!!!!!!

  19. Leftcoastgooner – why can’t u c the big picture,u need to look realistic yes! well done gooners but how long? History is not on our side,history go back and see how we struggle to get wins in the middle n end of the season,wenger simply don’t have the answers, so sori to burst the bubble.

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