Apologies for not making many posts this week, I’ve been burning the proverbial candle at both ends and also in the middle too, just for good measure. Rest assured that it hasn’t all been work related and that a fair amount of alcohol was consumed on numerous occasions since Sunday evening. I was all set to write a match review last night, I was literally sitting in front of the laptop doing my research (yes, I do do a bit of research for each post) when I got a call from a girl in Tokyo and so ended any thoughts of a post and off I set for beer in Yokohama. So, I think you can agree that the match report was abandoned for a worthy cause.
Wednesday’s game was great from an Arsenal perspective and we played very well going forward. Given that were were down to our last four recognised first-team defenders our game-plan had to be to go at them and go at them we did. Walcott was an extremely effective outlet and is really beginning to produce the kind of performances that we have long hoped he would. If he can stay injury-free and continue to develop at the same rate then he will be a truly phenomenal player for us over the coming years.
His finish for our opening goal was simply fantastic, as was the flick from Fabregas that put him through. It was a finish that could only come from a player that is oozing with confidence, as opposed to the shit that oozes out of Lassana Diarra. Likewise, Adebayor finished his goal with confidence and it is a chance that he would probably have missed if it had fallen to him in the first half of the season. He is on a bit of a roll at the minute and it is a joy to watch this team when they play with the flair and confidence that they are currently exuding.
Our third goal came from a soft enough penalty, it has to be said. But, the tie was over as a contest at that stage anyway and so whether we got the penalty or not wouldn’t have effected the outcome of the game. We really did piss all over them. We gave the Yellow Submarine a golden shower, Arsenal style.
To think that just three months ago all but the most ardent of Arsenal fans were fearing for not just a fourth-placed league finish but for the future potential of this squad, to now being in the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and Champions League AND being eight points clear of fifth-placed Aston Villa is quite a remarkable turn-around for a team so young. Truth be told, it would be quite a remarkable turn-around for a team of any age and credit must be given to the boss and the players for keeping their belief when all around were losing it.
I myself was one of those that questioned the potential of this squad and feared for what may happen to the club should we fail to secure at least a fourth-placed finish in the league. That was back in the dark pre-Christmas days, when the squad was doing it’s level best to kick me in the stones on an almost weekly basis. Not that fourth place is secure by any stretch of the imagination just yet but, back in early December, if we’d been offered the chance to be in this position in mid-April every single Arsenal fan would have ripped your arm off to accept it. It’s a great achievement. Though, although the elation of Wednesday might’s result is still coursing through my veins, it would be best not to get too carried away just yet as there is still a hell of a lot to do to secure fourth spot in the league and to try and bring home some silverware.
I think that the freshness of Arshavin, Fabregas, Walcott and Adebayor will be a huge bonus to us in the run-in to the end of the season. That little bit of an edge could be the deciding factor and let’s hope that freshness of said players will prove the decisive factor against Chelsea at Wembley tomorrow. It’s going to be a huge occasion and I can’t wait for it. I’ll be online well in advance of kick-off to make sure that i get my stream up and running so that i don’t miss a thing (that’s not a cheesy Aerosmith reference, bloody hate them.)
Our captain has had this to say on our achievements to date:
“Every day I dream of lifting a trophy in the Arsenal shirt. For me, it’s the best thing that could ever happen. But we still have so much hard work to do before we can realise those dreams. We are through to two semi-finals and three months ago we were praying to be in a position like this. What we have achieved is good but it is not enough. Semi-finals are one thing but we want to be in the finals. We have some huge games coming up and now it is all about winning. Every time we don’t win a trophy it is a major disappointment. But we’re not even thinking about that.”
He isn’t the only one dreaming watching him lift a trophy for The Arsenal. Let’s hope that it’s this season.
Van Persie seems like a happy camper and i imaging that his contract will be sorted by the end of June:
“I could not wish for more than these games — it is unbelievable, I have always had a belief in this team and now we can call ourselves one of the best four teams in Europe and that is about right. Now we want to move on and win things. The facts are that Arsenal want to extend my contract and I’m positive about that as well. We’ve had a good few meetings and everyone is very positive. Arsenal really want to extend it and I want to extend it as well.”
Personally i hope that we tie him down to a new long-term deal, even though he can sometimes frustrate you (what player doesn’t do that?), he is a player of ‘top, top quality’, to use the boss’s own words.
Ahead of tomorrow, early team news seems to indicate that Gibbs may be out after picking up a slight groin strain against Villarreal. I really hope that he is passed fit for tomorrow because we need every hand on deck in defence right now. It’s as if we have been cursed this season. The sheer number of injuries we have picked up is frustrating to say the least and if we can have a successful end to the campaign it will make the success all the more sweet.
Tomorrow’s team line-up will be interesting to see. Will the boss be tempted to rest Van Persie considering that he was a doubt for the Villarreal game in a bid to protect his chocolate groin? I expect Arshavin to come back into the line-up, possibly playing just off Adebayor. I also expect Sagna to return at right back and for Eboue to revert to the bench where he has been doing a good job as our new super-sub of late. I’d like to see Song partner Cesc in the middle of the field as his recent improvement really warrants a start in tomorrow’s game. Never thought I’d be typing that, but there you go.
***UPDATE: Sagna has now been ruled out of tomorrow’s game.
The excitement is building and I am buzzing. Roll on tomorrow.