“I’m a futurist. I’m not nostalgic. I don’t collect anything. I don’t know where my medals are. I’ve given some away, some must be in a cupboard somewhere. Frankly, I’m not a collector at all. This job turns you forward. When you go to bed at night, do you look back at the good moments you’ve had in your life, or do you look forward at what you want to do in the future? I’m more about what’s happening tomorrow.”
These are the words of Arsene Wenger on the eve of the Carling Cup final, our first chance at silverware since we lost narrowly in the Champions League Final in Paris in 2006. They are undoubtedly the words of a winner and reveal the forward-thinking mentality of a man who has redefined the culture of our beloved club.
But they are not words I can relate to today.
Today should not be about looking into the future. It is not about worrying about Barcelona, or whether we can overtake Manchester United and win the Premier League or even pondering how great this group of players may yet turn out to be. Today is about being in the present, feeling the atmosphere of the game and — win or lose — enjoying the moment with this team.
Eleven Arsenal players will head out onto the pitch today. Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott will not be amongst them, but it is not about those two. It is about the Robin van Persies, Samir Nasris, Jack Wilsheres and Johan Djourous of the team: players that we have watched come through the ranks and develop as both footballers and men.
I am excited to see which players excel at this level. Will the likes of Wilshere play as well as he did against Barcelona? Will Djourou and Koscielny remain as rock-solid as they have been on a day as big as this? Will Nasri, van Persie and Arshavin make the contributions that we all know they are capable of?
Everybody knows we have the goods to beat Birmingham today and lift the trophy today. Our sharp football has overcome their more physical style twice already this season and we should be enough today. I could talk about tactics and what we need to do to win the game but it’s really rather simple: if we work hard, move the ball around well and take our chances we should beat them.
But it is not really about tactics as such: it is more about executing our usual gameplan in a pressure-cooker atmosphere in front of 100,000 fans.
I could go on and on about this game but at the end of the day it is a final and anything can happen. I encourage everybody to enjoy the game, enjoy the feeling it brings and the emotions it entices.
Come on Arsenal!
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