There’s a lot to get through today with the league game against Liverpool tonight and some final thoughts on the FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea from the weekend.
It was my Dad’s funeral yesterday (which was wonderful, by the way) so I didn’t get the opportunity to post about the 2-1 defeat. Like everyone else, I was mystified with the manager’s decision not to start Andrey Arshavin and very disappointed with the efforts of Lukasz Fabianski in goals. Before the Wigan game I pondered whether Fabianski was ready for this difficult period and since then he delivered one adequate performance and two very poor ones. With Manuel Almunia expected to return against Middlesbrough on Sunday, the Polish goalkeeper effectively has one more chance to show what he’s got tonight at Liverpool.
The general feeling I felt during and after the Chelsea game was disappointment at what could have been. The strange team selection aside, I still felt we had enough quality on the pitch to cause them more trouble than we did, and the whole thing reminded me of that FA Cup semi-final during our Invincibles year where we surrendered so meekly to Manchester United. None of our big players stood up and hardly anyone – apart from maybe Robin van Persie and Kieran Gibbs – seemed to be putting in the effort. Abou Diaby and Denilson gave the ball away on the edge of our area all too often and the overall performance of our team was pretty miserable.
Alas, it will be Chelsea and not us who play Everton in the final and there’s nothing we can do about it now. So I suggest we look forward, to the Liverpool game tonight and the Champions League tie against Manchester United, and try and forget about what could have been.
Tonight’s game against Liverpool is particularly interesting for the unique reason that it benefit us to lose. We’ve opened up a big enough gap on Aston Villa now that it doesn’t really matter if we drop a few points and it may be in our best interests in the Champions League to ensure Liverpool remain right on United’s tail in the league, preventing them from resting players in the lead-up to the first leg. However, I highly Arsene Wenger and our team would try to lose on purpose with the need to regain our momentum a high priority.
The good news going into this one is that Bacary Sagna will return from illness, but the bad news is that Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor have joined our rather ridiculous injury list. Reports indicate that van Persie has had a minor recurrence of his previous groin injury while Adebayor will be left out merely as precaution to deal with some tightness in his hamstring. The injuries to the side mean that Nicklas Bendtner is likely to start, while Alex Song, Samir Nasri are all likely to come in after being rested on Saturday.
I really have no idea how tonight will go. While a win would give us a confidence boost and a loss would keep United on their toes, a draw is worth absolutely nothing. We’ll have to wait and see how things go.
Come on Arsenal! (I think)
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