If, as was claimed during the commentary on yesterday’s Chelsea vs. Spurs FA Cup semi-final, necessity is the mother of invention, is Frank Zappa the father? It’s this kind of question which keeps me awake at night.
The other is how much further up the ‘Scholes Scale’ Dele Alli can go? A stamp on David Luiz’s ankle upped his nasty little f****r rating. And it was a stamp; when he landed on the Brazilian, he continued to watch the ball. Were it accidental, he would have looked at any damage he might have caused. He didn’t, not even acknowledging his crime.
Some might point to that as footballing karma. There’s a view that you shouldn’t gloat over others footballing misfortunes, particularly when we’ve got a semi-final today. You can subscribe to that if you wish but forgive me if I don’t. Should we be careful what we wish for as well?
Bwahahahaha; seven in a row and one win in the five ‘home’ games they’ve played at the national stadium. So, on that basis, they are in for a shocker next season.
Seeing the Spurs faithful leave in their droves at Wembley was possibly the best image of the day. And then you get a close-up on camera asking your mate, “Shall we go home?”, when Matic’s stunning strike found the top of net.
“Dad! Dad! You were on telly…”
At which point, aside from the fleeting mention of footballing karma, there’s been nothing on today’s game. Time to rectify that, I think.
Yes, we have a game today. Manchester City; favourites with good reason and I have to say, I’ve rarely seen Arsenal fans, en masse, have such low expectations for a match of this nature.
Which could work in our favour.
Wishing On A Star
The truth is that while we have a dose of realism now, the emotion of the occasion will catch up the closer to kick-off we get.
While the press obsess over three at the back, the dose of realism is that we are massive underdogs. City’s form isn’t great but ours is worse. There’s no two ways about it, we could end up losing badly but the comprehensive scoreline of yesterday could quite easily be repeated. We know we can score against City; the trouble is they know they can score against us.
Three at the back versus four at the back? Our best form of defence at the moment is attack. The return of Vincent Kompany strengthens their defence but come on, Claudio Bravo or Willy Caballero? They are hardly frightening goalkeepers.
Nonetheless, our flakiness is a real concern. At the Emirates, City should have been well ahead in the first twenty minutes but they weren’t. We, unusually for us, didn’t get all woozy and let them score at will. Hope, springs eternal.
And hope comes in the form of a Chilean international and a German World Cup winner. Well, not in their form because it’s been hit and miss – mainly the latter – but this is the Cup and if you can’t dream, what’s left? It’s also the players chance to redeem themselves and while that’s not an opportunity they’ve been willing to take in recent months, it’s the last chance saloon as far as this season is concerned.
The Europa League beckons and let’s be honest, it’s a cup competition we can win; what better way to get into the mood for that one than lifting the FA Cup this season?
To Follow Where You Are
Can we do it? Sounds perilously close to ‘Can we kick it?’; it’s also tempting to say ‘if it moves, kick it’, particularly if it wears sky blue. With our form, they’d probably miss if they did.
So, who’s in, who’s out. It really depends on a back three or four. Using the formation at Middlesbrough does have the hint of a dress rehearsal about it which suggests repeating the trick today. That being the case, it’s hard to see any changes to the starting line-up. Personally, I would tweak it to:
Cech; Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding; Bellerin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Monreal; Özil, Sanchez; Giroud
I prefer the partnership of Ox and Xhaka to that of Ramsey and Xhaka but I suspect Arsène will run with Monday’s line-up. If it’s a flat back four, Holding drops out, Bellerin in and the rest is unchanged from the Riverside.
Whatever happens, if we’re going to fail, let it not be for lack of effort. Beaten by a better side? I can handle that. Beaten because we don’t try? No, that’s not acceptable. Let’s see this team of winners they keep telling us they are.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.