Plain Speaking Gabriel Set For Debut & From The Vaults: 1983 – Cup Glory Or Bust?

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Saturday morning and the bloated FA Cup weekend’s continue. It’s reaching a point where the fourth round will struggle to be completed when the Quarter-Final draw is made. “One. Arsenal, Manchester City, Brighton and Hove Albion or Middlesbrough will play Number 6.That’s Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Southampton or Bolton Wanderers…”

In the meantime, you can enjoy this morning’s playlist, Dancing Shoes, which can be found in the right sidebar on Dad’s Jukebox or in your browser here.

Arsène spoke to the media yesterday, hinting at the usual changes to the team for the cup competitions. Wojciech Szczesny will strut his funky stuff in goal whilst Gabriel is set to make his awaited début. It’s not quite long-awaited, he’s only been at Arsenal three weeks or so.

Anticipated? I think so, £11m is not a small fee so the promise of a good player is there, emphasized by the reports of his time at Villarreal which were wholly positive. Laurent Koscielny’s shoulder is the doubt ahead of tomorrow’s match, with the general consensus being that the French international is the one earmarked to partner Gabriel in the centre of defence.

To some extent, I’m surprised by that. Mertesacker offers the calmness, the experience that you would expect to bring some calm and help the new boy settle in. Not the case it seems. I wonder if Arsène thinks Koscielny’s pace offers the prospect of cover if Gabriel’s nerves take over?

Language, it seems, is also a problem. His grasp of English is minimal according to the manager, a problem that Wenger related to as he recalled his time in Japan and the struggles with a new language. He highlighted the fundamental issue for the Brazilian,

The disadvantages are the scope for costly communication breakdowns. It is a problem. When you don’t speak English and you don’t understand: ‘Come out, come back, right, left,’ it is a problem for a defender. You need to know the key words: ‘Referee. Offside. Foul’.

I don’t know why Arsène is worried, his defence have played like they don’t understand each other for most of the season so Gabriel should fit right in.

Wenger has been a successful cup manager and is rightly proud of his record forged in the first half of his reign. Winning the cup was part of the momentum, especially leading into The Invincibles, with the final in 2003 just keeping the trophy winning mentality ticking over.

Revisionism was in the air though. Arsenal, the manager claimed, had suffered in the Champions League due to fielding strong sides in the cup in matches preceding European ties. I seem to recall the opposite holding true more often than not in recent seasons as Blackburn will attest.

There’s no doubt Arsène has fielded teams that he thinks can win the domestic cup ties and to be fair, only when it goes wrong does anyone complain. Others followed his lead and now it’s considered the norm to have distinct XI’s for the senior competitions with cups seeing a number of changes.

It’s taken Arsène a while to find the balance and there’s no doubt that the stronger squad helps. When you think back to some of the sides fielded, it seems surprising that just United and Stoke handed us our Arsenal’s on a plate.

By his own admission, the FA Cup was third on his list of priorities behind a top four finish and the Champions League. That’s fair enough, the Premier League and Europe is where modern football is focussed. As he noted though, winning a trophy is important, especially at a club like Arsenal. When seasons pan out as this one has, a cup run brings welcome relief from the inconsistencies which besiege the league campaign. With a favourable draw in the Champions League, the next four weeks offer the prospect of a spring in our step.

It’s all relative of course, and retaining the FA Cup won’t disguise the fact that this season hasn’t been the stride forward that was hoped for or expected. Why win it all in one go? There’s always next season…

From The Vaults

The early 1980s were proving to be a graveyard for Arsenal dreams but 1982-83 hinted at a return to former cup glories. Tottenham had taken over as cup kings of north London with consecutive FA Cup wins following Arsenal’s three-in-a-row final appearances from 1978 to 1980 but hints of a recovery were on show.

Either side of these meetings with Middlesbrough, Arsenal faced Manchester United in the League Cup semi-final; it didn’t end well, United winning 4-2 at Highbury and 2-1 at Old Trafford but with the League a distant dream, any success was welcome.

The FA Cup provided hope albeit with a tighter affair than many expected. Malcolm Allison may have ditched the fedora but his penchant for big cup days hadn’t diminished. ‘Boro had made hard work of reaching the fifth round, scraping past Bishop’s Stortford in a third round replay before overcoming Notts County – then a top-flight club – before this meeting with Arsenal.

He probably fancied their chances; Arsenal were twelfth in the First Division as Terry Neill struggled to take what was on paper a talented squad back to the heady heights of yesteryear. In truth, his reign was coming to an end; by the end of the year, defeat at home to Walsall would all but signal his departure.

But for a brief moment, the flame flickered as Arsenal offered hope of brighter times ahead.

’til Tomorrow.

Boro replay Boro

28 thoughts on “Plain Speaking Gabriel Set For Debut & From The Vaults: 1983 – Cup Glory Or Bust?

  1. Our immediate future looks exciting. We have a home draw against Middlesboro tomorrow in the FA Cup. A favorable draw against Monaco on the 25th in the CL and a series of EPL games against lesser sides (on paper).
    If we can avoid further injuries and welcome back some of the sick and lame, the run-in to the domestic league looks like 4th place or better. 😉

  2. I think Kos starting next to Gabriel is part what Yogi thinks but I also think part of ut is simply giving Mert the day off, he has played almost every min in every competition for Arsenal since his arrival, even Henry and Bergkamp got a day off.

    Honestly, i would rather Arsene focus on thr PL first, FA Cup 2nd and CL 3rd. When was the last time we really had a shot at winning the CL? Anyways, i do hope to see Ozil centrally with pace on either flank or maybe even Akpom/Theo/Welbeck though I have no problem with Giroud starting because he has been in good goal scoring form.

  3. @Phil,
    Have you ever seen such a farcical ending to an ODI. Not that
    England didn’t deserve to lose.
    But poor old Taylor deprived of a possible century by LBW, then reinstated on review. The ball was clearly missing leg stump.
    And then deprived finally due to his partner Anderson being run out in the simaltaneous incident.
    I wonder whether the umpire’s original decision of LBW (however wrongly made) would have caused an immediate dead ball situation to arise.

  4. Nicky,
    Yes felt for Taylor, a strange ending indeed.

    Dukey,
    The difference between Aussies and Spurs fans is that we celebrate actually winning trophies.

    YW,
    I will rarely mention the cricket, but I couldnt let it pass without some comment!

  5. Blackburn are running riot and are up 4-1 in the 65′ and Stoke look a shattered side and are ready for the match to end.

  6. YW

    Another great post. Middlesbourough is on top of the championship and probably going to be in the PL next season and are probably better then a lot of the teams in the lower half of the PL table. They are one of the form teams in all of English football so we definitely can’t experiment or rotate very much if we intend to take them seriously.

    Gabriel should definitely start and I think Welbeck and Gibbs could both use some time so if it were me I would go with Walcott Giroud and Welbeck upfront. If we decide to start Akpom we need to recognize that he is the least likely of our group of forwards to score so we should start 2 other forwards that have a better chance to score so I would probably start Chuba on the left with Giroud and Walcott. The problem with that is Chuba played almost exclusively centrally in the U21 so he has minimal experience with positioning and helping to defend on the flank so if we start him wide left we really should start Nacho instead of Gibbs. Our right flank is already a problem and it would give us more balance if we also had a weak left flank but despite the being in better balance I would still rather see Nacho so we don’t have to worry about both flanks. It might be a good idea to start akpom at CF since is familiar with the position and if he has a rush of adrenaline and makes a mistake its less likely to be a problem if he does it at CF. If he starts at CF then we definitely need Walcott and Ozil on the wings so we have more of a chance to score goals. To me that is good tactical football but hopefully its overthinking.

    If we can’t find a way to shore up the right flank in the next couple of games then perhaps we could consider giving Gabriel a shot at RB

  7. Bloody funny how Phil turns up in London just in time for the World Cup which we, as Engkand fans, knew would be a disaster.

    He must be rich, coming all this way just to gloat. The Tayloe episode was one that any PL referee would have been ashamed of. Disgraceful, of course the ball was bloody dead. Anything after the umpire raised his finger affected what followed.

    Wouldn’t have affected the result but Taylor was bloody good and showed enough bottle to be, God help me, an Aussie.

  8. Bill and C,
    Didn’t you get the memo?
    This is a cricket blog today.

    CBob,
    How do you define ‘rarely’?
    And don’t worry, I will be back here when the Ashes are on,

  9. @Phil

    I did, thats why I disappeared, no need to show up on topics I know very little about and follow even less 😉

  10. Ok,
    Well I have obviously killed the traffic for the day. Sorry.

    Re football,
    Cbob,
    I will still be around for the Hammers game on the 14th of March, and it’s before the World Cup final so I certainly won’t be gloating.

  11. If Gabriel and Kos are playing together I hope Kos will be playing on the left side. Whenever AW plays Kos alongside a left sided CB he struggles.

  12. @wavey

    He probably will because Gabriel is prodominately a right sided CB, well atleast when he was at Villarreal but is also capable of playing on the left side.

  13. Morning chaps

    Just checking in as a busy weekend with friends and family afoot

    Cricket? Has there been a match on?

    Everton you say Bob? Let’s see eh? Might be able to drum up a 4 for that. Will check when it is and come back. What are we saying? You, me, Phil and another? Andy might be worthwhile as I think it’s his round(s)? He has been conspicuous in his absence on the boards since that outing. The other usual suspects of Jonny and Limey will no doubt be interested. What about head honcho Yogi himself?

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