Good Friday afternoon you Gooners. It pains me to write this, but there are several reasons why tomorrow’s FA Cup semi-final is filling me up with dread – like Adam Richman’s toilet after a series of Man vs. Food – and breaking me out in a cold sweat:
– Arsenal have, time and time again this season, capitulated, stuttered or been humiliated in ‘must win games.’ We all know the matches I mean; from Napoli away to Everton away, Arsenal’s ‘mental strength’ drips away faster than the water out of my Impreza’s hose did this Wednesday…and have no doubt about it, Arsenal’s season now rests on this next game, more so than any other. And we’ve seen Arsenal shoot themselves in the foot in major finals too; 2000, Galatasaray were there for the taking, 2001; Liverpool were let off of the hook and stole the game, 2006; Manuel Almunia’s goalkeeping ineptitude allowed Barcelona to win at the death and in 2011, Birmingham faced Arsenal and at NO POINT looked like losing. Arsene Wenger’s sides have a worrying habit of choking when it comes to the crunch…especially since 2005.
– Too many players are out of form: Per Mertesacker no longer looks like an immovable boulder, Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs have recently looked like novices, Thomas Vermaelen, the captain you may recall, looks absolutely lost on the pitch and Santi Cazorla, for all of his grand talk of titles, is about as creative as Mr Maker after a night of caning it up Medway way. As for Olivier Giroud, well I’ve witnessed virgins visiting Amsterdam brothels with more confidence than our main frontman. So yes, Aaron Ramsey will be back and looked good in his Everton cameo, and Mesut Özil should be fit for a cup final appearance, but is that enough? There’s no Theo Walcott…no pacy outlet. The bite of Jack Wilshere and the composure (most of the time) that Laurent Koscielny brings is all absent.
– Mathieu Flamini is out, which means Mikel Arteta is sure to be the midfield lynchpin. Which is like employing a geriatric to chaperone Rihanna in a Miami nightclub…he’s gonna be left for dead the moment he comes up against someone younger and fitter, i.e. all of the opposition. Poor Arteta looks spent.
– Wigan won’t be scared at all. Who has more to lose?! Whose recent form is a disaster zone?! Who didn’t ship six away to Manchester City?! Have no doubt about it, Wigan will be bang up for Wembley in the sun, without pressure, expectation or fear. Can we say the same of Arsene Wenger and his skeleton squad of players?
– It is a sad state of affairs, circumstances that many though had predicted when Arsenal were riding high. Quite why it has come to this in early April is painful and were it not for the ‘lightning rod’ figure of David Moyes at Manchester United, Arsenal and Wenger could and maybe should be having many more questions asked of them.
– What do I think? I’m hoping for a 2-1 Gunners win to set up a final…thus giving us all something to look forward to in May…but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Wigan upset the applecart, pissed in the cider and let the horses loose…and where would that leave poor Arsene Wenger and those squad members like Cazorla making murmurs? I already expect Bacary Sagna to leave this summer, as well as Nicklas Bendtner, Lukasz Fabianski, Park Chu Young and Thomas Vermaelen…who could then join them?!
Have a great one you Gooners – maybe wear dark trousers though, yeah?!
Ta for perusing.