This is all very strange isn’t it? Heading in to a Carling Cup match knowing that we are actually taking it quite seriously. It was in evidence at WHL that this had become the case although we did not know before the squad was announced that we would be going for the Carling Cup as if it was a proper trophy.
Makes a nice change.
Newcastle manager Chris Houghton has stated that they will look to rest key players ahead of their crunch derby match against Sunderland at the weekend so that can only bode well for us. I don’t see this match being the walk-over so many are predicting (I will be delighted if I’m proved wrong) as Newcastle are a decent team at home and we must not forget that they beat a strong Chelsea side at Stamford Bridge in the last round. Cold autumn evenings in the norf are where you find out just how much your team really want it.
Rumour has it that Vela has been left out of tonight’s squad and I must say this disappoints me if it’s true (which I doubt it is). I was really looking forward to the Mexican’s return from his loan spell a few seasons back and you can’t help but wonder what has happened to the player that Wenger himself described as ‘the most natural finisher he has ever seen.’ To be effective Vela needs to be played through the middle, but his stature is such that hold up play is not his thing. Playing him on the left intermittently has not brought him on as has been hoped and with the jet-setting around the globe with Mexico and the injuries that brought with it, it is safe to say that he has been a disappointment.
It’s a shame, but I’m not prepared to write him off just yet. For further reasons why he may not have come along as we all hoped, see this excellent piece from Young Guns blog.
Team news ahead of tonight’s match and while we are going to see a relatively strong team fielded, you could argue that we could field a totally different 11 with the first teamers we will be leaving out (through choice, suspension or injury) – Fabianski, Sagna, Squillaci/Djourou, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Cesc, Jack, Samir, Arshavin, Van Persie and Chamakh.
So, it may be a strong team tonight, but it points more to our depth that we can almost change the entire team and still be seen as ‘strong’ and taking the competition ‘seriously.’ Not that you’ll hear much talk from the media about our strength in depth, they seem to be under some illusion that we are wafer thin beyond our first 11. In past seasons we have been, but that is because we have been plagued with injuries, often two or three in the same positions.
Anyone would seem to lack depth under those circumstances and don’t tell me they wouldn’t. If Man U or Chelsea changed all 11 first teamers would they still be described as ‘strong’? I don’t think so.
Anyway, who are we likely to see line up tonight for what I’m expecting to be a very good cup game between two committed sides? Well, this would be my prediction (different that from on the forum yesterday as to my shame I forgot about Henri):
Eboue Djourou Koscielny Gibbs
With a bench including: Fabaianski, Squillaci, JET, Eastmond, Nasri, Chamakh, somebody else.
The fact is, I’ve no clue who Wenger would put on the bench, but whoever he chooses will be more than able to do a job so we have no fear there. We could even see Cesc on the bench, not to be used, but more as a statement of intent.
And that statement of intent has already been issued. Wenger has acknowledged that we are going for every competition this year so should we fail to progress is shall be more painful than in past years where we simply dismissed it as the kids cup.
We now have to invest not only our hope that the Arsenal kids put in a performance, but our desire to see the team progress in what is a very winnable competition this year as well. Tomorrow morning there can be no ‘ah well, it’s only the Carling Cup,’ if we lose. It will be akin to being knocked out of the FA Cup – a far more painful experience when compared to watching the kids lose in the Carling Cup.
As was discussed yesterday we are dammed if we do and dammed if we don’t in this competition should we win it. Hoping that it would shut people up hammering on about ‘five years’ without a trophy (would you like to be like the Spuds with a Carling Cup in the past five years but no league title in 50?) should we win it we are likely to hear ‘sure it’s only the Carling Cup.’ Should we fail, well, then we’ll just have to win the FA Cup/Champions League/Premier League then won’t we? I might have to start shooting people if they start with ‘six years.’
Tonight is more than winnable, but only if we are on our toes. Another Albion performance and we won’t get out of Newcastle with our pride even close to intact. Luckily, the mix of experience, youth, hunger and desire that is contained within the players we are talking up Norf should be enough to get us in to the quarter-finals.
3-1 Arsenal, but I’ll take 6-1 or 1-0.
In other news reports are coming out that we are to offer Andrei a one-year contract extension. I wondered why it wouldn’t be longer than that so I went investigating. His current deal expires in 2012, a new one year would take him to 2013 at which point he would be 32 and you know Arsene and the over-30′s. At a reported £80,000 per week/ £4million per year, that works out at around £8,000 per yard run.
I jest, I jest. Well, sort of, there is no denying that he’s a lazy little bugger, but you also cannot deny his ability to change a game and his assist/goal record is one of the best.
Crazy but I love him.
That’s your lot for today apart from to say that the old blogspot blog should now be being redirected to this site, please update your feeds/bookmarks/scraps of paper as I will no longer be updating that site.
Interesting from Twitter:
RT @YoungGunsBlog: Marouane Chamakh: “For some players the dream is Barcelona or Real Madrid. For me, it’s always been Arsenal.” (via @Fuchsiab)
RT @BastardCujo: Chamack:
6 penalties won
4 red cards given for fouls on him------------
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