Sounds like a morose title. It isn’t. Think of it more as me adopting an air of caution to what I write. It is excellent that Wigan defied expectation to knock Man City out of the FA Cup and, undoubtedly, the competition is a genuinely fantastic opportunity to bag some silverware. However, that great chance at glory is going to bring with it tremendous pressure.
We all know how much the media love to build up the chances of an underdog. Coupled with how much they appear to revel in Arsenal’s failure, we can expect tension and such to be ramped up several notches in the weeks leading up to the game – think; dials being turned to ’11’.
Most importantly, as supporters, we shouldn’t assume anything. We have a superb chance, but at this point that is all we have, nothing more. Man City’s fan-base and the footballing world didn’t give Wigan much of a chance at the Ethiad Stadium and look how that turned out. To underestimate our opponents and start celebrating too soon would be a silly mistake of near biblical proportion.
But, hey – that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t get excited and fancy our chances. On paper, at the very least, Arsenal have enough technical ability and attacking verve to dispatch any of the 3 remaining teams. Arsenal haven’t exactly had the easiest of paths to the semi-finals facing Spurs, Coventry, Liverpool and Everton so we have no reason to think anything other than the great potential for success.
The trick is to ensure it doesn’t breed over-confidence and, most importantly of all, the players that take to the field don’t view those facing them as anything other than a stern test. We’ve faltered and floundered in seasons passed in Cup fixtures against teams we ought comfortably dispatch. Both me and my innards would really appreciate if Arsenal didn’t do anything bloody stupid now we have such a good position.
As you might imagine, most of the talk surrounded that, but there is the small matter of a Champions League 2nd leg taking place tomorrow. At the time of writing, I have heard of no fresh injury concerns. We’ll know more when Arsene talks to the press.
In a funny way, that game has become an example of Arsenal being on exactly the opposite side to that which they are in the FA Cup; we go to Munich afforded a certain amount of freedom because nobody – not even our own fans – truly expects anything other than Bayern progression. The players can step onto the Allianz Arena’s turf without pressure and just play their game in hope of something wonderful happening. The chances are it won’t and we’ll exit the Champions League with a few tales of “what if?”.
And that’s all I have for you today, folks. I’ll be doing a full preview of the game and the team I think will line-up against Bayern in tomorrow’s post. That’ll be up at the usual time. In the meantime, I hope you’ll use the comments to share all your thoughts on the FA Cup.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.