I’m sure I’m not alone in breathing a collective sigh of relief at what happened yesterday at Wembley. The fact that everyone has been speculating in the media on a possible Tottenham match towards a double has left a horrible taste in the mouth and a churning of the stomach. So when the final whistle went yesterday I felt a little but better. Even if we somehow manage to progress today, the idea that we could be swept aside by those Totts in the final didn’t bear thinking about.
So as much as I hate Chelski, I can look forward to today’s game knowing the worst possible scenario has been ruled out.
Well, I say ‘look forward’, but in truth I’m bricking it today. When the draw was announced I was happy; City are a team that ship goals like we do and I thought that if we could build a bit of momentum then you never know.
Unfortunately that thing ‘form’ hasn’t really materialised and we go in to today’s game as severe underdogs. City have been picking up wins whilst we have been lurching from game-to-game. The Boro victory provided some respite but if truth be told, there’s not many of us that saw it as the spark in to life, is there?
That’s why today’s game could be either a blessing or a curse. The players should be up for this today. They should be ready for what attacking threat City will pose and should be prepared to put on a display for us. They owe us that much. If they show what they’re capable of then we have a chance of winning. If we do win there’s a final at the end of the season and there’s the possibility of a morale boost ahead of an end to the season which appeared to be petering out in to nothingness. However if we lose, it’s hard to see this season going anywhere but south, with little to play for and a top four spot probably a long shot.
In short, there’s a lot riding on today’s result, a lot.
The biggest question the manager will have been pondering is whether or not to stick with the back three that he tried at Middlesbrough. It was hardly the epitome of defensive stability and if Boro had more cutting edge we might be talking about another failed experiment from Wenger. But the win has turned the narrative slightly and some – myself included – will be hoping that Arsène sticks with three at the back as opposed to the 4-2-3-1 that we’ve been used to. City have a wealth of attacking options and with Gabriel Jesus back in the squad today they have an enviable array of attacking talent. A defensive three with wing backs might provide us with a little more protection and so I’m hoping that when the news filters through on team selection, we see Rob Holding’s name on it. He’s young, he’s probably a bit raw, but from what we’ve seen so far he looks like a composed talent and I’d like to see him trotting out on the Wembley turf from the start today.
Midfield will probably stay with Xhaka and Ramsey and if that is the case, they’ll need to offer more protection than ever before, because City will come at us in waves. I’m hoping that Ramsey has another decent performance like the Hull Cup final of a few years ago. Who knows, maybe Wembley suits him.
Up top I’d love to see Alexis up top but if Arsène goes with a 3-5-2 I think it’ll be Giroud with Özil and Alexis behind him. Welbeck has only just returned from injury so I don’t think he’ll play from the start but I think we’ll see him at some stage.
This is the type of game that gives me butterflies in my stomach. In a way that’s a good thing, because I haven’t had that feeling with Arsenal for some time. I’ve been going to games just feeling a bit numb so to have a game with that little bit of excitement in my belly is a good thing. I think.
Where ever you are watching the game today, cross everything and hope for an Arsenal win, because in this season of disappointments it would be nice to have something nice to celebrate.
Up the Arsenal