Tottenham Preview: Up For The Cup


Anyone who had a heart. No, wait, that’s not on this morning’s playlist, Alright, which can be found here or on the right-hand sidebar under Dad’s Jukebox.

It’s how things used to be, how every knockout tournament was decided. A free draw, unencumbered by the shackles of the sponsors pound, mark or franc which suppresses competition for the promotion of market share. Imagine a Champions League where you could as easily be drawn in a group with Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern as Chelsea, City, United or Tromso, Cluj, Marseilles. Sometimes the FA get things right by leaving well alone. They have mishandled their crown jewel, of that there is no doubt. When the Aston Villa manager notes that the majority of the Premier League could do without the distraction, something has gone horribly wrong although thinking about it, Villa have form in showing disrespect to cup competitions. Martin O’Neill’s credentials were hardly enhanced when he took a reserve side to Russia for a UEFA Cup match.

Perhaps today is the injection of life, spice and verve which the FA Cup needed from an Arsenal perspective. Arsène can’t really tinker with the starting XI too much, he doesn’t have that many fit players. If the media were believed, he would surely have called upon his latest signing, Dimitar Berbatov, for a debut against his former employers. Thankfully the manager took time to dispel the notion that the club were looking to buy the Bulgarian. It seems there might be a regular feature at his press conferences this month; ‘Arsène, Are You Really Going To Buy…‘ is a double-edged sword. One the one hand it would be information to sell newspapers and advertising space but the downside is creative juices will need to flow to flush out the true targets. If you are fed up with transfer speculation already, the latter is a bleak prospect indeed.

Surprisingly, Arsenal have not requested the FA cancel the game. Essentially, it is going to be the same side which beat the conditions and Cardiff – two opponents in one day and we wonder why the players are so tired – without the option of bringing Bendtner on from the bench. Striking options are, to be polite, limited. Giroud was ready for the starting line-up but has been taken ill apparently so it’s Podolski or Walcott leading the line. Wenger has shown little inclination to use his younger options thus far and it is too big a game for such a risk to be taken for a first start of the season. By all means include the likes of Zelalem and Akpom on the bench, introduce them later in the tie when changes are needed.  Will the policy of rotating his goalkeepers continue? The words yesterday when talking of last year’s defeat to Blackburn, make me wonder if he is more concerned with keeping the momentum of an unbeaten run going. Wenger noted,

I had the luck to win four FA Cups, that means I always put the effort in. I’m very keen to do it again, it’s a long time now. Honestly I still have in my mind the fact that we went out last year at home against Blackburn, that was not good enough for us and we have to make sure we absolutely put the effort in to have the chance to go through.

It’s an opportunity that we want to take. On top of that, afterwards we have nine days until the next Premier League game [so] we can give absolutely everything in this game.

Indeed it is but if this ends in a draw, the replay is two days after the Aston Villa game which makes the Premier League’s decision to allow Sky to reschedule the fixture to a Monday night at once surprising whilst underpinning the belief that they will not be happy until the FA Cup has been reduced to a pale shadow of the poor imitation of the past it has become.

Wenger used a determined turn of phrase, one acknowledging that this is the North London Derby as well as the FA Cup Third Round. August’s win in the Premier League is not forgotten by either side, Arsenal thoroughly deserved their victory. Much is being made in the turnaround in Tottenham’s fortunes since Tim ‘Gooner’ Sherwood took over. As Theo Walcott observed, it isn’t a good time for them to be playing Arsenal either. That form adds spice but the cliché tells us the form book goes out of the window in such matches.

Talking the tie up is to be expected, Arsène is after all the equivalent of a boxing promoter when talking to the media. However do his words acknowledge that this might be considered the easier tournament to win? There does not have to be a trade-off at this moment in time between the FA Cup, Premier or Champions Leagues. We have seen how badly focussing on one competition can end with ambitions for a season ending before Easter. I cannot see that lower the priority for the FA Cup is beneficial. After all, if the players cross the white line with a ‘meh‘Attitude, they will lose. Far from easing the pressure, defeat coupled with that attitude leaves them with points to prove.

For that reason, I think the line-up will be largely intact from Wednesday. Personally, I would not include Flamini from the start, preferring the dynamism of Rosicky’s passing. At the moment, the Flamini / Arteta axis is struggling and whilst the Frenchman is noticeable, Arteta is more productive in terms of passing and tackling. The only other change will be if Mesut Özil’s recovery has progressed better than is being reported. If that is the case, I would think that Podolski would make way, giving the manager options from the bench. It leaves the line-up,

Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Arteta, Rosicky, Wilshere; Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski

Whatever the line-up is, the players will be ready and are aware of the importance supporters place on this fixture, if the words of Laurent Koscielny are anything to go by. It ought to be a match of biting challenges, where no quarter is asked or given. In short a good, old-fashioned FA Cup tie. And Arsenal winning, of course.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

234 thoughts on “Tottenham Preview: Up For The Cup

  1. Absolutely brilliant performance and was reminiscent of our early matches this year. Played at our tempo and bosses the match for the most part. Created chances but most importantly it was good to see Santi and Jack looking like the players that their talent allows them to be.

    My hat also goes off to our back 4 and Verm who handled and dealt with the Spuds attack and limited them to all long range shots for the most part.

  2. C

    Theo looked good centrally for a game or 2 last season but it didn’t work with any consistency. Hard to imagine a cf who has one headed goal in eight years.

    I hope Podolski had a minor knock. Arsene does not seem to want to use him wide left.

  3. ** Sorry to hear Miami Arsenal, our prayers to you and the family.

    Is Rosicky, under-appreciated?

    Good game all around, topped with shutting out the Spuds and knocking them out. You can call it the perfect day.

  4. Well time to get some work done. No Arsenal for 8 days but hopefully as many players as possible can shake off whatever injuries they are carrying. Wonder who (if anyone) we will buy? Especially if Theo is crocked for a prolonged period of time.

    Have a great week all! COYG!!

  5. @Bill

    But we would only need him to play centrally a couple matches out of the year. It was also good to see that the team can change styles and still be devastingly effective.

    We almost certainly now have to buy a cf with Theo jarring his left knee and Bendtner and Giroud hurt. Podolski is just coming off a long layoff so he will need time and I think we will see him start against the Villians.

  6. A GOOD FUCKIN WIN……………….. just hope Theos injury isn’t too bad, if it is and Giroud isn’t fit, then AW is in the position which we don’t want…. panic buy for a striker

  7. Magnificent performance all round. How can on epick a man of match, when everyone was so good.

    I am amazed at Rosicky’s energy. I hope that he will stay. I suspect they may have in mind for a coaching job when he hangs up hs boots.

  8. That is exactly what we needed, AW got it right o the night and it will do wonders to our confidence. We took the FA Cup seriously and could maybe go on to win it! Probably our best chance of silverware this season along with a possible championship. Because, if I’m honest with myself, I doubt we will get past Bayern in the CL, I could be wrong about that but the FA Cup would do me this season…………… and perhaps the league ha ha

  9. I’m really glad that when Theo went off we weren’t just one nil up………… otherwise his gesture could have been mistaken for an insult and he’d be banned for two games

  10. great win..
    good performance..
    theo was good and deserved a goal…any news on the injury?

    fingers crossed weve been negotiating a deal for a new striker and hes on his way shortly…

  11. I might take an earfull for saying this, but we attack with so much more pace when Theo is central…

  12. Wenger asked does Walcott’s injury leave him short up front. “We are short because he’s not very tall.”

    Wenger such a troll!

  13. C

    Fair enough regarding theo. An occasional start as CF can really be a change up and that can work well when the other team is not really prepared for it. Not really a great option for more then an occasional game. IMO.

    I do think the team would adjust its style of play if we don’t have Girouds hold up play. We have never played with that type of CF play before. I think we have adjusted to playing that way this season because that is Giroud’s strength and the striker is so critical to any teams attack, especially when you play a solitary striker. We can’t really play any other way consistently with him as our lone striker. We did well today but over a longer term Theo’s value is at RW. I don’t think anyone in the league right now can duplicate the goal threat he brings out from out wide. I hope his injury isn’t serious.

  14. Goonerwife

    It was always going to happen, we need to look at different strikers anyway.

    Bendtner out for a month apparently.

    Theo has either stretched ligament or a kick. They’re not sure.

  15. hopefully he wont be out for too long and the stretcher sub was just precautionary..

    girouds supposed to be back too…

    9 days until the next match we wont be struggling to pick a team with any luck, but we still need to reinforce the strike force,….

  16. Oh joy, oh joy, oh joy. What an emphatic display even if Santi did look like he was auditioning for being a Jedwood

  17. Whilst not a fan of Theo central, he was very good today. If he performs centrally like that a bit more I may have to revise my opinion on him there.

    I thought we played very well and Gnabry and Rosicky especially. I hope we see more of Gnabry as he has “it”. I would not be concerned to see him start in any profile match. With AOC to return we have some pace in the forward areas again.

  18. I’m not usually a fan of him centrally, but against some teams he just seems to know how to play. Tottenham seems to be one of them! Mainly, because there are some teams that, like us for a good few years, can’t defend quick counters. Man U game last season when Giroud was out is an example and at OT this season, our first defeat since Villa on opening day, we couldn’t break with any pace as Theo, ox and Pod were all injured. I’d have started Gnabry that game. It’s not secret that Theo also seems to play better when Rosicky is having a good game, coincidence? I think not.

    Ox is back in full training so he’ll reappear in the next few weeks! Just what we need, Ox has so much potential of all our injuries his was the one that frustrated me as i thought this could be his breakthrough season!

  19. Pontificating morons on ITV highlights re Theo ‘2-0’; how about the spud inbreds booing Theo while he was receiving treatmentprior to being stretchered off? might this have informed his reaction? FFS.

  20. Rosicky’s contract is also up this summer, i’d hope we could keep him for another two seasons….

  21. Gupps

    I stopped watching the highlights as it was naff. Didn’t show any of the passing moves or half chances we had! Then they decided to dwell on Theo’s 2-0 thing, it’s like they are asking the FA to step in with the constant coverage of it.

  22. Just Another Luke – Haha 🙂 Spuds suck!!

    AOC and Sanogo both back in training. Giroud has recovered from injury, albeit he was sick and could not play today. Poldi back in the squad and raring to go. Ramsey expected to be back in training by the end of next week. Fabinaski had a decent run out today, indeed made a decent save right at the start of todays game. TV also got some game time, even if it was only to pick up a yellow but still after the first 15 minutes he seemed to get back up to pace. Still a bit of a risk taker with his tackling (hence the yellow) but a great player to have as back up. Even Park made the bench today!! (Park Bench!? I’ll get me coat….) And if what I am hearing from some friends is correct then Arteta is fine, just took himself off as he felt a niggle. And the whole squad has 8 days off bar training.

    Incredibly we were 18 points behind Utd at this stage last year, with Utd having played 1 game more than us, with our next two fixtures being City and the Chavs. We lost both, 2-0 and 2-1 respectively. Although if memory serves correctly, as it sometimes does, we dominated each game in the second half having played like shit in the first. Hard to believe that as I write this Utd are 11 points behind us. Yes we still lost to City but unlike our manager I for one have no problem thining the result would have been different if several key players were not taken sick right before the game. And as I stated before Maureen has stifled the Chavs this season with his horrible brand of football. Hell he won’t even start Juan Mata! Maybe we should put in a bid? $20m? Pfft! There problem really, no need for us to offer them a solution.

    I still think we need a striker up front, someone who can play with their back to goal. Quick with the ball and pacey. Theo is not there as of yet and is now injured anyways. Bendy is out but is also not that knid of player. Giroud is a beast, a real warrior and I think a vastly underrated player by many but just not quick enough nor lathal enough at the moment. We do not need Suarez per se but surely there are players out there who could fill this role for us? Or is the player already with us, Sanogo? I still do not know too much about him to be honest. Park? *shudders* Ah well, just have to play the wait and see game I guess. Was great to hear the Emirates reverberating to “One Arsene Wenger” again, it seems an age since I last heard that so clearly on the tv.

    Happy New Year to one and all 🙂

  23. Great team win. Hopefully Wenger will see the value in starting fringe players like Gnabry more often. I’d like to see Monreal played more. Maybe even Jenskinson. Starting TR7 never hurts. More squad rotation please. We still win with the subs!!

  24. @ irishgray which striker can you realistically get at the moment in the same wavelength of a Suarez.Non at the moment we have a Walcott who can attempt to do that as he has all signs of a striker. It seems you have not seen Sanogo play.He is slow and not different from Giroud.He is similar to the inexperienced Adebayor in his early days.I also think Podolski can help in there.

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