Those (very brave) of you who read my column every week already know this: I am one of the most optimistic Gooners you’ll come across. No matter what the result or the outcome of a game, I’ll find some positives.
I was not really worried when we conceded defeat to Swansea at home, I saw the Arsenal play some good football and I only blamed our shooting boots for the unexpected result; I knew we were not at our best and I saw how much we struggled to create clear-cut chances during the first half, however I was reassured by our solidity at the back and our tactical awareness, as well as some better football we played in the second half.
I said to myself – and to you via this site that it was just a blip and we should not worry too much.
Out thought and out fought for 60 mins
Well, after the draw at Old Trafford, my perspective is a bit less positive.
For more than an hour we were sloppy on the ball, way too predictable in our moves and – the worst mistake of the lot – very compliant.We were soft in the 50:50 challenges, we rarely won an aerial duel and we were systematically outpaced by our rivals.
Don’t you dare to play like that in Wembley my Gunners.
The likes of Delph, Benteke, Grealish, Cleverly and Sinclair can’t wait to give us a proper fight and if we’re not up for it, the FA Cup will fly to Birmingham – and deservedly so.
We are a much superior team and we are favourites to win the game but if we start to believe that, it will be the end.
It’s a completely different scenario compared to last year’s final –whose horrible start (for us) was due to some real terror to fail more than arrogance; this year there is no eternal drought to end, there is not this sense of liberation – this time it’s about confirming we have matured.
Playing like a bunch of pretentious superstars wouldn’t help our case.
Arsène Wenger and our players can’t stop telling us how much the mentality of the team has improved, how much this group of footballers grew up and matured and how good we are going to be; well, personally I’d rather they let their actions on the pitch do their talking.
I believe we really have matured and started to fulfill our obvious potential, however I also noticed that we recorded one defeat and one draw since we moved from chasing a team in front of us (Chelsea) to being chased for the second spot (Manchester City); isn’t it a symptom of some unfinished therapy?
What happens to the team when there’s no one to run after?
Having matured would also mean accepting the role of obvious favourites and yet play like we had our backs against the wall; we are equally great when we are called to pull a miracle and horrible when we have our faith in our own hands.
Nobody can forget what happened against Monaco, Birmingham City and many other times; having grown up would mean go and get Aston Villa like we did twice this season in the Premier League; having matured would have meant going to Old Trafford with the same hunger and guts shown in the FA Cup quarter finals.
I trust our men to prove me wrong and go back to the compact, fighting, united group of mature footballers who got us many great results and – most importantly – great performances.