The day of reckoning is finally here. No, not the chance to win the Premier League or the chance to win the Champions League. It’s only the Carling Cup but by Bergkamp’s name, the Arsenal will be going all out to win it today.
Although the prize at the end of the day is a spot in the Europa League, that will not be the thing that will be playing in our minds. Our league positions should ensure that we qualify for the Champions League and thus forfeiting our spot in the second tier European competition should we win the Carling Cup. More than that, this is a chance this very team to etch their names onto Arsenal history books.
It is time to release the monkey on our back. The monkey that has been fed by the media and pundits, those that belittle our chances of winning anything with this squad. The move to the new stadium has been completed for over 4 years now and yet no new trophies have been added to the trophy cabinet. The space separating the lower and middle tier seats have long been ignored. Today is the day we add another year to that space.
In previous rounds of the Carling Cup, Arsene Wenger has put out majority of his first team squad with a sputter or two youngsters here and there. There should be no question whatsoever that he should put his actual first eleven out today. Of course, it wouldn’t be the actual best 11 that he has in the squad. Bearing in mind the absences of Thomas Vermaelen, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott. Despite all that, there’s another 22 more players in the squad that should be head and shoulders better than today’s opponent.
That should be our starting eleven for the final. The best defence that Arsenal has as a combination this season. They will be on guard against the expected aerial onslaught. Birmingham have a giant in their ranks who goes by the name Nicola Zigic. Alex McLeish is hoping that all 6ft 7in of his Serbian striker will trouble our defence.
In one on one jumps, we’ll struggle to win headers off Zigic. That is where our players need to double team and ensure he does not get the space to make those jumps. We’ll also have to be wary of not over-doing it and concede needless freekicks or worse, penalties. This will be one of those games where staying on our feet and not committing in tackles might actually be a good thing.
In midfield, it’s the battle between the silky skills of Samir Nasri-Jack Wilshere and Lee Bowyer-Craig Gardner. But I do wonder sometimes why the opposition duo turned out to be such players. They do possess the necessary talent and technique to play industrious football but somehow chose the darker path and can be very nasty in the plays. Surely, the manager’s tactics more than most.
Our players would have to remember that this is a cup final. No mistakes can be tolerated and they all have to understand their responsibilities to the team. Birmingham will try and ruffle our feathers and force us to be emotional. The incident like the one that involve Abou Diaby at Newcastle should be prevented. Don’t stoop to their level. We’ll just have to play our football and punish them with that.
All being said, one would be a fool to think that the winner of the Carling Cup is a foregone conclusion. If the players enters Wembley and thinks that by just doing that, they’ll win the cup, then we’re in for a rough night. If the players comes in with real desire and motivation, just like how they approach the Chelsea and Barcelona games, then the FA will have to start tying red and white ribbons on the cup.
Come on you reds!!!!!!