Hello from a mildly hungover blogger in Yokohama. I’m sure that you all enjoyed the game on Wednesday night just as much as I did. Unfortunately, as the game kicked off at 04:45 on Thursday morning here, I had to leave my post game celebrations until last night as I also had a meeting to attend yesterday afternoon. Hence, the Sunday hangover.
Today sees us traveling to Brisbane Road to take on Leyton Orient in the fifth round of the FA Cup and it is a game that, whilst being a totally different beast to the one against Barcelona, could well be a test for our team. Orient have lost just once in their last twenty games, so Arsenal will need to be focused if they are to overcome a team that will be really up for it. This game should also help Orient to break even, financially, for the first time in Barry Hearn’s reign at the club.
I think that in defence we will see Almunia, Squillaci, Koscielny and Gibbs. In midfield, we are likely to see Rosicky, Song, Denilson, Bendtner and Arshavin, with Chamakh up front.
Eboue Squillaci Koscielny Gibbs
Rosicky Song Denilson
I think that the bench will be very strong, with the likes of Szczesny, Djourou, Fabregas, Wilshere, Nasri, Walcott and RvP ready to come on if needed.
Though, to be honest, it is anyone’s guess as to who will be selected in the domestic cup competitions this season. Wenger has said that he will pick a strong team for today’s game and he would probably argue that the above team I have selected is a strong team. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we will see the likes of Nasri, Cesc etc. starting, especially as Nasri is just back from injury. I would like to see some of our more important players rested for this one, if possible, as there is the Carling Cup final coming up next weekend. On top of that, there is also the fact that Leyton Orient are probably going to try and do a Tony Pulis (Mark Hughes, Sam Allardyce…) on us and try to ‘get in our faces.’ Unfortunately, the phrase ‘get in their/our faces’ is code for ‘kick them off the field’ rather than pressuring and hassling the opposition, making them rush their passes and therein make mistakes. That said, Orient’s captain Stephen Dawson has said:
“It’s not about kicking them around, it’s about getting in their faces – we’re going to be right on top of them.”
Let’s hope that they can stick to that idea and not resort to simply trying to kick lumps out of us, which is the acceptable version of ‘getting in their faces’ by the managers mentioned above. We don’t need any fresh injuries at this stage of the season.
There are quotes in the papers from some Orient players intimating that Arsenal won’t be up for the 50/50 challenges, which is a load of nonsense. What Arsenal won’t be up for is being maimed by a bunch of lower league cloggers looking to make a name for themselves. Rightly so. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with it being a physical game with plenty of tackling, as long as the tackling is fair and well intentioned.
The game will also see us coming up against two former Arsenal youth players; Jason Crowe and Ben Chorley. The latter has an interview up on ATVO talking about his time at Arsenal. Hopefully, seeing two former youth players playing for Orient will serve as a reminder to our current crop of youth players that they really have to focus and work hard if they are going to have any chance of making it into the Arsenal first team. It also shows them that even if they don’t make it with us, there is still a good chance that they can have a career in football, albeit at a lower level club.
If we do beat Orient today, we will be looking to overturn our record in the FA Cup wherein on the previous three occasions that we have knocked them out (1952, 1972and 1978), we have gone on to lose the final. With regard to clean sheets, Orient have kept just one in their last ten FA Cup games and should Arsenal keep one today it will be their 150th clean sheet in the competition.
Kick-off is at 01:30 JST, 16:30 GMT. The FA Cup isn’t being shown on TV in Japan this season, so it’ll be a night of stream chasing followed by a sleepy day at work tomorrow. According to the official website, it is being shown on ESPN back in the UK and Ireland. Basically, any kick-off time after 15:00 GMT is a ballache when you live in Japan, especially when the time difference in winter is +9hrs.
Away from today’s game and newspapers are continuing to report Twitter messages exchanged between Arsenal players as news. I’m glad that The Sun’s website is still free because there is NO WAY that I would ever subscribe to a site that reports Twitter messages as news. The same goes for the Daily Mail.
One thing that needs to be addressed by the club is the official website which has been going downhill in terms of the quality of its content for some time now. It is bad enough that there is still a ‘transfer linked’ section on the site and that the spelling isn’t always up to scratch. But, more recently, it has also endorsed fake player Twitter accounts. A bit more research and care by those that run the site wouldn’t go astray. Is that too much to ask?
You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/colm_smyth or @colm_smyth, if you are interested in that sort of thing, . Not be be confused with the other (forthcoming) North Bank themed blog and Twitter account, which is not connected with this site.
Right, that’ll do for today. Take it easy.