That would be the prize that is at stake. A place in a proper cup final. A chance at glory and the opportunity to add another 4 numbers at the signs surrounding the upper tier at the Grove. A Championship side and 90 minutes of football stands between our way and a match at Wembley. Theoretically, it could still go to extra time should Arsenal only win by a solitary goal in normal playing time.
I’m hard to pressed not to be confident about tonight. After all, we are one of the premier footballing clubs in Europe while our opponents have not so much qualify for the Premier League, let alone play in European games. Even if we put our second eleven out, we should still have too much firepower for Ipswich.
Yet, things are so different than when it is stated on paper. Just 2 weeks ago, we all thought that we were going to steamrolled over the Tractor Boys. The result was quite the opposite. A long ball over the top cost us a goal. The team never got going at Portman Road and were promptly beaten. The team learnt a hard lesson that night. That there is no rewards if there is no application. The response was that wonderful performance to beat Leeds at Elland Road. The same has to be done tonight.
The team will have to forget that Ipswich are 37 places below us in terms of league standings. They also have to forget that this is our record 14th time in the League Cup semifinals. They have to forget that Ipswich fans are going to bring inflated rugby balloons in response to Cesc Fabregas’ statement. If the Arsenal team, whoever that might play tonight, put in their 100%, we will all be celebrating our participation in the first domestic cup final of the season.
Arsene Wenger resisted the opportunity to make massive changes for the Leeds game. I believe that fact is due to the game being played at Elland Road and knowing full well that the home team will receive massive backing from the crowd. This time around, the match will be staged at the Grove. I suspect that Wenger will make a couple more changes but otherwise keeping his core players there.
Yes, you noticed correctly. The only difference from that side compared to the one that played Leeds is Cesc Fabregas in for Samir Nasri. The latter has been playing in pain lately and deserve a night’s rest. Otherwise, it is still a very strong side and they are more than capable of rounding Ipswich up. An early goal would calm the nerves and also serve to change the expected defensive tactics of the opponent.
There will be plenty of firepower on the bench as well. The likes of Theo Walcott and Robin Van Persie, just to name two. Should be fail to find the early breakthrough, early changes is necessary. Wenger cannot allow his players time to make it work. Not when there is just 90 minutes deciding whether we qualify for the final or not.
Tonight will show us just how much these players want to achieve success with Arsenal Football Club. With the right combination of workrate, desire and effort; a high scoring victory is not beyond us. Come on you Gunners!!!!