Mentality will be the key here as Arsenal prepares to face Ipswich Town at Portman Road in the first leg of the Carling Cup semifinal. Which is a strange thing for me as I seemed to recall us breezing past lower opposition in this competition with our reserve league side that comprised one or two internationals. That one defeat to Burnley apart, our youngsters of previous years have more or less beaten every single side outside of the Premier League when faced with in this competition.
Let’s make this clear. These are the same players that Arsene Wenger selected to play Leeds United over the weekend and had to rely on Cesc Fabregas coming off the bench to salvage a draw. So what has changed? Has these players grown up believing their own hype and think that they could just turn up and a win will be duly delivered? Fabregas was right when he said that Ipswich will be dangerous. It normally is when lower sides gets the opportunity to face top class teams. They are motivate to do well against us. The bigger question will have to be are we motivated enough to do well against them?
I do hope that the team picks up from the lessons that the Leeds game taught us. Like Wenger described, Arsenal must be up for it. This is now our first chance of the season to grab a trophy. The 5 years barren run has been discussed to death and it is now time for the team to put it to bed. No better opportunity than this one, considering the teams that are left in this competition. If the team cannot find the motivation and the desire to get out on the pitch and win for the team, there is a deeper underlying problem with this set of players.
I cannot comment on how Ipswich are going to line-up. They were thrashed 7-0 by Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend. Which can only mean that they are there for the taking. If the Arsenal players put in a performance that they can be proud of, we should win this tie comfortably. There should be no inkling that the 7-0 humbling was due to massive squad rotation as Ipswich seemed to put out their strongest side in the last 3 fixtures, including that FA Cup defeat.
It looks likely that those that played the Leeds game will keep their place with the exception of Sebastien Squillaci. The French centreback has a hamstring injury which will keep him out of the side for 3 weeks minimum. I know Ignasi Miquel is in the squad that travelled to Ipswich but I rather he do not make his début tonight. It is a massive game and a home tie with a 4 or 5 goals leads would be a better introduction game for him. By any accounts that will either see Johan Djourou play his 3rd consecutive games in a week or a switch to centreback for Alex Song. I fancy the latter as the risk is too big to be taken with the first option.
I still think it is still too early to involve Aaron Ramsey right from the off. Perhaps, if the result is more to our favour tonight, we might be able to get to see him get a run out. Jack Wilshere had the weekend off and should be well fit to play in this game. If not, Samir Nasri who was another one of those rested for the Leeds game, might get a start. The striking trio should remain unchanged, though effectively Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh will be constantly interchange the striker’s role.
A good win with a couple of goals in the bag will be a very good advantage to take back to the Grove. If the attitude and motivation is right, there should be no denying that kind of outcome. Talk to to you again tomorrow.