Happy Friday to you and your kin. With nowt on for at least another week and a half the speculation machine appears to be gathering momentum and already people are losing their sh*t because Club A is linked to Player B and for some Eason we aren’t in the running. But to be honest with you we all know that 90% of what we read now is utter trash.
What I’m more concerned with is the importance of that Europa League final and specifically, how people I speak to seem to feel a little blasé about facing Chelski.
I even find myself saying to myself in my head “we’ll win it. We need it more than them. So we’ll win”. Dangerous thoughts. Dangerous thoughts indeed.
It’s history which is clouding my judgement you see. After all we beat Chelski in that cup final a few seasons back. We also have their number in a few Community Shield’s too. In fact I can’t remember the last time they beat us in a cup final.
Oh, wait, yes I can. That one where Theo scored early and as a 17 year old we all got excited that we’d found the new Henry.
But that ended in a Fabianski mess and they took home the Capital One Cup thanks to Dider Drogba.
But still, there’s a sense of overconfidence that I feel exists within me and many Arsenal fans and that way danger usually looms.
When things are stacked in Arsenal’s favour, they usually sh*t the bed, or at least make it very difficult for themselves. Think about the Birmingham League Cup final when Szczesny and Koscielny had their brain fart moment to allow Martins to score.
Even the successful cup final win against Hull had us melting down for the first 25 minutes.
So I’m wrestling with myself this morning on the tube because I’m trying to temper this expectation that we will win.
After all, we have the Europa League specialist manager, plus a good recent record against them lot, plus they’re missing Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek. Plus they’ve just gone to Boston and played a full strength team in a meaningless friendly. Plus we need the win to get Champions League football, whereas they don’t because they’ve secured it domestically.
These variables are all leading to me believe that we should win it, which usually results in me being pessimistic, which is why I usually adopt the pessimists approach to games like this. When too much feels like it’s weighting in our favour, usually we trip up, like the recent ‘easy’ run in the league.
All of this stress and I’ve still probably got another 12 days of it too!
The nagging thing I do have in my mind though is the absence of our cup final specialist and the availability of their best player. A Ramsey-driven Arsenal would, I think, have too much for Chelski. But without him we don’t have that in form player in the middle of the park who can affect proceedings. However they have their player fully fit, firing on all cylinders, plus probably wanting to go out on a high given that it almost 99.9% certain he’ll be gone in the summer. That little bit of narrative is a big concern for us. Yes, we’ve been able to keep Hazard quiet in games before, but we’ve also been absolutely run ragged and I worry that it will be the case in a couple of weeks. I just hope Unai has a plan for him. I really hope…
Because if Hazard gets space he will hurt us. The visions of Coquelin on his arse and Koscielny being turned left and right still haunt me. The soft penalty last season at The Emirates still haunt me. He haunts me as a player. And I think he might haunt our quiet frankly farcical defence at times. So we have to hope that Unai has a plan and he has a fully fit team ready, willing and able to pull off a result in one last big game this season.
Come on Unai, give us some hope.
Catch you all tomorrow.