Morning, boys ‘n’ girls.
Growing up, one of my first resounding memories of football – other than Arsenal, of course – was all about Sutton United. I’m old enough to remember all the way back to 1989 and Sutton’s victory over Coventry City in the FA Cup third round. The underdogs, then playing in the GM Vauxhall Conference, produced what was arguably one of the biggest shocks of all time. I’ve always remembered it. For reasons unknown, that match has always stuck with me in crystal clarity.
And that folks, frightens the bloody hell out of me. Should Sutton United repeat that accomplishment tonight, should the unthinkable happen; then we truly will be looking at the greatest FA Cup shock/giant killing of all time. Maybe the universe is coming around full circle and the reason that match back in ’89 resonated so was because it was a warning of what was to follow….
*cue spooky revelatory music*
Or perhaps not. I think maybe I’ve watched too many movies with themes of destiny and fate in my time. I’ve watched too many movies in general, to tell the truth. Only yesterday I was spinning a gun around in my study at home and gleefully explaining, “Your move, creep” in my best RoboCop voice.
The winners of tonights encounter would face a home tie with non-league Lincoln. Now, at this point I’d probably say something along the lines of, ‘it would certainly appear Arsenal have an easy course into the semi-finals from here”. I’m going to avoid such idiotic statements today. We would want to tempt the aforementioned fate, would we..
It’s funny, I’m more nervous about tonight than I was at any point during the Bayern game. With that fixture, I approached with a sort of slumped resignation, almost ambivalent to the inevitable drubbing. Tonight, however, is a game we shouldn’t just win, we should win at a canter and by a considerable margin. Tonight should be a relative walk in the park with a puppy and some ice cream on a beautiful sunny afternoon.
But this is Arsenal. We’re in something of a period of disarray and unrest, and that lovely walk could turn into the footballing equivalent of trying to navigate your way through a minefield on a pogo stick. In short; I’m bloody terrified we’ll somehow f*ck it up. And that would truly be the catalyst for Armageddon as far as Arsenal’s online community is concerned. Bu the less said about the folks, the better…
Let’s talk team news. I think it’s fair to assume we’ll see a few changes. My best guess is we’ll see starts for Holding, Gabriel, Gibbs, Jenkinson/Debuchy, Maitland-Niles, Welbeck and Perez (if he’s fit). The remaining 4 places is anybody’s guess, but I expect we’ll see a little experience in the team for good measure – it could even be a first appearance of the season for Per Mertesacker. I very much doubt we’ll see Walcott, Ozil, Alexis or Koscielny.
I hope we do field a strong team. Both for the sake of winning the game and making it a bit special for our hosts. I’m a sucker for the romance and spectacle of the FA Cup and I hate to see it cheapened. Football is very much a team sport these days and rotation isn’t simply a trend, but a necessity. Change are to be expected, but hope the Sutton players get to pit their wits against at least a couple of our bigger names.
So predictions. Well, we should win. We SHOULD win. We f*cking should win. We really SHOULD.
Bloody hell. I’m not confident, but I’ll say it’ll be 10-0 to Arsenal.
That’s all for today, folks. I’m off to attend a 3 day course in first aid, which might actually be perfect timing. I’ll be back tomorrow to discuss the game and any other talking points. Until then, why not leave a comment and give me your predictions?
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.