I’m an Arsenal fan in my mid thirties and can I admit something to you: winning trophies – any trophies- means a hell of a lot more to me than it did ten years ago. Ten years ago I thought to myself that setting us up to be financially sound, to deliver Champions League football and to look towards the bright future of Arsenal, that was a big thing and something I wanted to see Arsenal do.

Perhaps it was an age thing. Perhaps it was the fact that I got a season ticket and so suddenly could be ‘right there’ in the atmosphere of seeing the cup lifted. Perhaps it was the lasting memory of that whole day and experience of Wembley. I don’t know what it is but I can tell you now, if you’d offer me the ability to erase our Champions League qualification for 10 years in return for another happy day at Wembley on Saturday, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

That’s because the everlasting joyous memories I take from football are those cup wins and trophies. That’s also why I shall not be sneering at United this morning. I am envious. Supremely envious. I will admit to you right now that I would have swapped our league campaign for theirs of boring football (which actually comes from a United work colleague), loads of draws, yet two cups delivered. You can say what you like about the prestige of those cups, but there will have been two days/evenings in which United fans will have everlasting memories to look back on. Just like we have with the 3-2 win over Hull and the 4-0 thrashing of Villa. I want more memories and I want one of this weekend.

Arsène had an early presser yesterday though and the prognosis for our defence does not look great. Koscielny and Gabriel are out as we know, but the fact Mustafi hasn’t trained is a real worry, I have to say. To go in to a cup final playing the best team in the country is hard enough, but to do it when you’re decimated at the back just makes for more painful reading and if you are like me and somebody who likes to read what pundits are saying about the match before it takes place, I’d recommend you stop yourself now. It won’t exactly inspire you with confidence.

We’re that depleted at the back that even Arsène has admitted that he might have to revert back to a 4-2-3-1. With Gibbs also now supposedly struggling for the final, if he also misses out through injury, you start to wonder who will be left to play on Saturday.

Perhaps The Ox will need to show his versatility at left back? Perhaps Mertesacker starts his first game in over a year? Perhaps we do indeed move to a formation which sent us in to a downward spiral just two months ago.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

I tell you one thing for sure though: it doesn’t look like the footballing gods are shining on us at this very moment in time and if you read my stuff regularly, you’ll know that for somebody who isn’t overly superstitious, when it comes to football I very much am. These injuries aren’t helping my superstition, but I keep replaying the 2002 “it’s only Ray Parlour” double and wondering if this weekend is our footballing karma. That weekend we won the FA Cup it was a double and a double that was against a Chelski side just outside of the top four. They were an inconsistent Chelski team who on their day had it in them to overcome any team, but ultimately against a more powerful, more confident, recently elected Champions in Arsenal, they were never going to be any match.

Sound familiar?

My worry is that football karma is re-calibrating itself from 2002.

The only hope I have against that is that if it is the case, then we’re due for about two years worth of away victories against top six teams soon. 

Football does strange things to normal, sane, hard working people who usually apply logic in all aspects of their lives. Doesn’t it?

So back to Arsène’s presser and whilst I haven’t watched it all yet, I have caught most of the main bits, including his assertion that this won’t be his last ever game in football managerment. He did say he didn’t know whether it would be his last game at Arsenal, but suggested he’ll be managing somewhere next year. To me I think he’s going to be manager at Arsenal next year, although it does feel as though there is a lot for him riding on this game too. It feels ever more likely that his decision will be based on whether or not we win one football match which, for a guy who has always asked for perspective and a longer term view of things, kinds of flies in the face of his own comments. I haven’t bothered to check any quotes, but I feel like it was similar to this the last time he signed an extension. That went right to the wire with the Hull cup final and I feel like he’s since then admitted that the outcome of that match had a big baring on his own future. This feels very deja vu again doesn’t it? 

But then again that is modern day Arsenal under Wenger. We seem to get the same stuff every year. The same comments, the same dips in form from the team, the same nonchalant approach to football affairs by the board, the same mistakes, the same contract sagas. For both players and the manager. So perhaps we should just accept that it was always going to be this way because that’s exactly what has happened before.

Still, we’re drawing ever closer towards the line in the sand, so we’ll know soon enough on a lot of things.

Laters people.