I’m still buzzing about the result on Monday night. More so than I thought I’d be actually. Probably more so because I know there’s a Wembley semi final that lies in wait and, although we can’t be presumptive enough to assume we’ll waltz our way into the final (see Wigan last season as a case in point), it’s hard not to get excited at the prospect of silverware for a second season running.
Somebody asked me recently if I’d swap a cup final for fourth and whilst four years ago you’d have probably had me asking “which cup final”, now I really don’t care. I’d take any cup final, any day. After going to Wembley, seeing us lift the cup live and in person, there’s nothing I’d rather have than the opportunity to experience it again.
That’s why – although the semi final at Wembley is derided by many – for me it’s great. It’s a great day out and I’m thankful that I’m lucky enough to get the opportunity. To get to a final and win it? Amazing. It’s a memory that will last infinitely longer than a nervous 1-0 win away to Newcastle to secure a top four spot. So give me any semi-final or final, any day, of any week.
That probably explains why I feel so much more elated than if we’d have won away from home in the league. Yes, we’d have gained some distance and further enhanced our chances of securing top four, but Premier League victories can be quite easily undone by a poor result the following week. The FA Cup quarter final victory will be able to stay with us right up until we play in the next round in April. It’s fabulous and means that we can relive and recount the result as much as we like over the next few weeks.
Not so for the players however, who have to move on and make sure that they are focused and determined for the visit of West Ham on Saturday, on that most novel of things which is a 3pm kick off. The attention will shift to the Premier League, but the goodwill factor of reaching the semi-finals will remain and I’d expect the opening exchanges of Saturday’s game will see quite a raucous home support cheering on The Arsenal as we sing songs of Wembley.
That’s also why this result will have further positive ramifications than just getting through to the next phase of the competition. People inside the stadium will be buzzing on Saturday. The noise will be turned up a notch and that will hopefully carry on to the players. We’ve had people like Arteta and Big Per admit that the fans do play a part in helping to give the team that little bit of extra ‘get-up-and-go’ in the past, so with a good five days between the United game and West Ham at home not not is there time to recharge the players’ batteries, but there will also be an extre impetus for them with the atmosphere that the United win will have helped to forge.
It then becomes a self-fulfilling profacy, you see, because we feel the team are playing well. We then make more noise and give them more motivation to make them play well. They react to that and play well. I’m hoping that’s the case anyway!
All the players need to do is to not take West Ham likely. They need to be confident, bold and dominant. If they are all of those things and remain steadfast and resolute at the back, we’ll maintain our momentum of winning football matches and it would bode well for a positive end to the season.
Smile. Being an Arsenal fan is good right now.