Lincoln City arrive at the Emirates this evening, sacrificial lambs for the FA Cup slaughter. Their chances in the normal course of events, would be described as “slim and none – and slim just left town”. Well, slim just returned.
The nation, the BBC and the ‘Romance of the FA Cup’ demanded that this tie take place on a crisp afternoon at Sincil Bank. Football’s fates decreed otherwise and the media-friendly Crowley brothers bring their players to north London for what ought to be a footballing lesson.
Listen, I know everyone wants us to lose but it is inconceivable that Arsenal won’t win. The quality of even our second string players is enough to ensure that we win, most likely in a similar manner to the last round at Sutton. No disrespect to the Imps but defeat tonight ought to see heads roll before the post-match interviews have taken place.
Leaders of the National League, Lincoln have captured the imagination of the nation with their cup run. They have exploited the fashion for the ‘big’ clubs to play weakened teams in the competition and their work-rate in doing so has been admirable. The bloody noses issued along the way are something which ought to make every club take notice.
Today underlines their biggest problem progress is made, second strings become progressively better. Arguably, the Arsenal second string is a harder team to face than the first XI. This lot have yet to throw in the towel for any match. Indeed, the club is waiting anxiously for the results of UEFA’s drug testers with concerns that the players all took ‘Spice’ as they waited for Laurent Koscielny to leave the pitch on Tuesday night.
While the second string is most likely to take the field this evening, there’s a strong case for making the first XI play. They are in a run of horrendous results, with five defeats in six games. Each of those matches raises unanswered questions about the current regime. It isn’t just the players, the whole set-up is under scrutiny; preparation, abilities and/or mental strength, tactics, Wenger’s decision-making.
Arsène admitted that he gambled on Tuesday and we ended up on the wrong end of an extremely damaging thrashing. I don’t understand why he chose to chase a “one in a million” chance; it was footballing suicide and the actions of a desperate man.
Projecting PSG’s collapse in the Camp Nou onto Bayern is fundamentally flawed in one crucial respect: we’re no Barcelona. While the first hour was encouraging, it was far from devastating for the Germans. One-down, they still had plenty of opportunities to score and the over-riding sense is that they hadn’t got out of second gear.
With just today and West Bromwich Albion before the international break, the training ground can’t be much fun at the moment. The pall of defeat hangs over the squad and some relief has to be breathed into the air. Two victories could make Colney a better time to return to after a fortnight with their national teams. It won’t change anyone’s mind about staying or going; those decisions are already made.
The sub-plot of the manager’s future is inextricably linked to every match we play with a second protest before today’s match. Until the air is cleared by the club’s announcement over his future, this ‘drama’ will continue to play out.
There’s a real sense that the board and manager are content to pay nothing more than lip service to the issue. Perhaps they are hoping it will fizzle out and go away as it did last season?
Unless there are three major shocks, the last four will feature the top three and Arsenal. I have no doubt that Arsène will field the ‘usual’ FA Cup side this evening. For some players, it may be their last first-team game of the season; surely the semi-final see the strongest XI?
Martinez; Maitland-Niles, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Gibbs; Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Walcott, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide; Perez
Later this morning, Times of our Lives reaches 1995 on Dad’s Jukebox. Keep an eye on the comments section and the right sidebar for the updates.
Enjoy the match wherever