That is how long it is until Arsenal take to the pitch at Wembley to partake in what is hopefully the first of many more finals this and the following seasons. It is time to lay to rest all the talk about the how it has been 5 seasons since we last won any competitive trophy. It is time to discard the nearly men tag.
We’ll have to do that without the service of Cesc Fabregas. If the rumours are correct, apparently Fabregas has deemed himself fit enough to play but Arsene Wenger disagrees. If you look at the link, you will understand where the manager is coming from. Yes, this is the first final in a good number of years and every single Arsenal player will be desperate to play in the final. But we are still only in February and we are still involve in the other 3 competitions. I’ll take the lesser of two evils and have him missed this final so that he can play the balance of the 3 months in the club’s calendar.
That would be the captain for the final would be Robin Van Persie after he has been cleared by the medical staff to be 100% fit. These are rare news for us fans. Rarely do we get RvP back after just 1 game out. Normally, his absence are measured by months rather than days. To say that his time with Arsenal has been injury-plagued would be an understatement. This has been his most consistent Arsenal season yet.
Also back together with RvP are Laurent Koscielny and Abou Diaby. Koscielny’s return is arguably more important than Diaby’s. His partnership with Johan Djourou in the heart of our defence has been the bedrock of many of victories this season. Even though Sebastien Squillaci scored the winner in the midweek league game against Stoke and was generally solid, the understanding between the younger two compatriots far exceeds his recent resurgence.
The other important consideration is the fact that we now have a really good keeper behind them. Wojciech Szczesny may have earned his place by chance, given that Lukasz Fabianski was the Number 1 and his injury has given the younger Pole the chance to shine. Szczesny took the chance with both hands and one can hardly find any faults with his performances thus far. For someone so young to be so composed in high profile games, I can say for sure that I have no worries about him tomorrow night. Though, Arsenal will have to make sure he does not go for any psychiatry checks.
It is good to hear how Wenger rates Jack Wilshere. In the absence of Fabregas, Wenger could’ve easily mentioned or highlight Samir Nasri as the key and the player to take over the role but Wilshere is the one named. Compared to the captain, the Englishman is more box-to-box. He has such desire that is so apparent in each game that you feed off it. Wilshere is for sure important for tomorrow, maybe not more than Nasri but perhaps of the same importance.
Match preview tomorrow.