Well, it’s a time for looking forward, even if it is with some trepidation. Tomorrow is the first (only) final of the season for us and we face Manchester City.
Arsène declared Mesut Özil fit with a proviso that he may pull another sickie. Somehow I doubt he will but you can never be sure with the current flakey generation. Alex Iwobi, whom I expect to be on the bench, is a doubt while Wenger has to “make a decision” today on Aaron Ramsey. He’ll want him playing and not just because he’s unbeaten in his eight previous visits to Wembley.
More on the Carabao Cup final tomorrow in the “It’s the League Cup final and bugger me! We’re in it!” post. There’s something peculiar about the League Cup and Arsenal; we’ve never warmed to it properly. Not even when it was first dreamt up by Alan Hardaker’s megalomania. We didn’t want to know, didn’t enter it until the late-60s and after an initial spell of making ourselves at home – losing the finals, natch – we became wholly indifferent to it until 1987.
Anyway, that’s all for tomorrow. I won’t make any promises since that indicates some planning goes into this blog and you know it doesn’t.
The downside is that I have to confront Thursday night’s shambolic performance and I really don’t want to. I fully confess that I was thankful Isaac wrote the piece yesterday; mine would have just been 750 words along the lines of just sack him and let us all move on with our lives.
My mood hasn’t lightened much in that respect this morning, but at least we know our opponents for the next round: AC Milan. One of European football’s great names and a club as far down in the doldrums as we are.
My Name Is Massimiliano and I’m Headcase
As delusional as well, if the quotes attributed to Massimiliano Mirabelli, their Ivan equivalent. To be honest, it’s the sort of thing I could imagine Ivan saying had he been there to ask.
“I’m sorry for Arsenal, who I’m sure would have liked to have continued in Europe. It would have been a nice final, but I’m happy. It’s best to face a big club like Arsenal now. We needed opponents like these.”
AC Milan sit seventh in Serie A.
The Rossoneri General Manager Christian Abbiati played in the 2012 tie; another European club not ready to ditch its’ past in the senior management team. While Arsenal are left with Bufton-Tufton and Dismayed of Tunbridge Wells as directors, others refuse to lose football experience.
It doesn’t automatically mean the club becomes successful; that’s still down to the manager and players. It does mean we avoid the directors staying quiet because they don’t have a clue or patently stupid statements about Wenger being the only manager in town.
Abbiati remembers the horror shows both sides suffered in the away legs. Us on a ploughed field at the San Siro, them on the Emirates green baize. Was it RVP who missed a gilt-edged second-half chance to level the tie? For 45 minutes, we dreamt of one of European football’s most glorious of comebacks. Just as Östersunds were; just as Östersunds, we fell short, architects of their own downfall.
It was a draw which could have been worse, but also a lot easier. We’d still contrive to make the latter look at lot harder than it is because that’s the ‘Arsenal Way’.
The shame is that we will go into the first leg at least with Alexandre Lacazette missing with the striker probably out for the second leg even though he’s recovering ahead of schedule.
I’m a Wide Striker But My Boss Won’t Admit It
I’m going to draw a positive from Thursday night though. Wenger forsook the easy option when the inexperienced pairing of Chambers and Holding were reeling. He kept the experienced players on the bench and let them ride the rough storm. The problem with wholesale rotation is a lack of playing time. The pair hardly ever play in the same line-up together and we saw the shortcomings of their inexperience laid bare.
I can’t see them being used as a pair again in the competition; Milan will eat them alive as would every other team remaining. With Danny Welbeck leading the line, we need to revive the spirit of 1993-4: draw the away leg and follow it up with a 1 – 0 win at home. We aren’t going to score a sackful of goals with him leading the line; we saw his shortcomings as a central striker in Thursday’s horror show.
But he is all we have for the moment.
That, though, is for then; this is now. And Wembley beckons.