I don’t know about you but I’m jittery with excitement about tonight’s match.
The incentive of a trip to Wembley and a serious chance of silverware is a huge one for this group of players and this, combined with the challenge of overturn a one-goal deficit from the first leg, could make for a cracking atmosphere at The Emirates. Ipswich might only be a struggling Championship side on paper but they beat us no more than two weeks ago and will do everything in their power to preserve their advantage for as long as possible.
My sincere hope is that Arsene Wenger plays as close to a full-strength team as possible tonight. With Huddersfield in the FA Cup, arguably an easier fixture than this one, coming up on the weekend there really should be no excuse not to play our best team. Fair enough a guy like Robin van Persie could be left out — two games in three days for a player not at 100% is risky to say the least — but aside from that I can’t see a reason to change much else.
In saying that I do believe there will be a couple of alterations from the side that thumped Wigan. I expect Kieran Gibbs to come in for Gael Clichy and the aforementioned van Persie to be replaced by either one of Nicklas Bendtner or Marouane Chamakh. My fingers are crossed that the midfield trio that dominated Wigan — Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere and Alex Song — will be maintained while I’m also hoping that Theo Walcott in particular is not benched.
The key to tonight will be to attack Ipswich as relentlessly as we attacked Wigan. A fortnight ago we were sluggish and disjointed while on Saturday we were cohesive, energetic and as determined to control the game as I have ever seen an Arsenal team play. If the latter side turns up tonight then overturning Ipswich’s lead and going on to win the tie is well within our grasp. If not, it could be a long and frustrating night.
The truth is that if Wenger plays a strong side I am confident that we can do the business. The longer the game goes on the more and more stressful I will get but even if the game is 0-0 with five minutes to go I still believe we will find the goal we need. We have the quality, we have shown in recent games that we have the endeavour and in front of our home fans that should be enough to overturn the deficit and win the tie.
And if you believe confidence is a problem then just read these pre-match comments from Mr Wojciech Szczesny:
“We have a team from the Championship coming to the Emirates and they probably won’t fancy it too much, but we fancy our chances and are confident we will go through. We are Arsenal and believe we can beat anybody. They have a one-goal advantage which they will try to defend, but as soon as we score the first goal it will be downhill for them. We just have to break them down and score as many goals as we can. We are confident we can turn this around.”
The way I see it, if a 20-year-old goalkeeper with no experience can be as confident as this, then why shouldn’t the rest of us?
COME ON ARSENAL!!!
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