Saturday lunchtime before a Monday night kickoff at Old Trafford truly is horrible. You must spend the whole weekend sitting around dreading that match and basically expecting to lose, and then the match comes and you lose and your still shocked it happened. I suppose it doesn't help when Rooney leaps like a fish out of the water to win a penalty out of nothing. Or when you lose 1-2 to a united team who had one shot on target in the whole match. Only Arsenal do that type of thing. It is shocking but then again these things happen so often as an Arsenal fan, do we still have the right to be shocked? Just when you think the team is looking good, playing fast quick flowing football, defending well (yes, you read that right) they go and lose to a team that has a chicken over a basketball as their team badge (or volleyball, whatever it is), or get smashed 1-3 at home to a team who have only scored 4 goals in the whole tournament up until that point, with a 34 year old up front. You really have to wonder at some point if this is all some kind of sick joke? We have two options as Arsenal fans at the start of each season; start really well, look really good for the title, then in late February spontaneously combust and get knocked out of all competition in the space of a week, or (and my personal favourite), start the season poorly, look dead and buried by December and then win a run of games and get into the top 4. Lovely stuff isn't it. Although last season we did have the added bonus of winning the F.a cup, which brings us to Monday's game; this really is an important match.
As I said in the Pre-United press conference post, its been almost 10 years since our last win at Old Trafford, or to be precise it's been roughly, 20 days, 5 months and 8 years since that last Old Trafford win. Remember that game? (that was the only real feasible video I could find) Fabregas won the ball off Ronaldo before playing Adebayor through to poke in with 5 minutes left in the game. Arsenal even missed a penalty that day, yes we got a penalty at Old Trafford. Take a minute, compose and read on. As a side note it's horrible thinking that Fabregas now plays for Chelsea and Adebayor at Spurs. This game has so much importance on it; firstly its both teams only chance of winning a trophy (Don't even mention Arsenal having the second Monaco leg) and secondly many people believe that whoever loses this tie will not only get dumped out of the F.a cup but also lose the much famed psychological battle. Lets just hope no one goes on to say that the other team will go into a negative spiral, (Spurs, do they ever learn? For those of you who don't know how the script went, well that was one of the seasons that started off badly, but we still got the top 4, ahead of Spurs, on the last day).
When Paul Merson is not making up words, he usually has a go at controversy, heres some more:
"Whichever manager loses will be under severe pressure, "whoever goes out of the cup will just be playing for the top 4- and neither of them is guaranteed to finish there this season. "You can’t tell me that either of those managers will still be in a job next season if they go out of the cup and don’t finish in the top four."Van Gaal has spent a fortune and has to qualify for the Champions League. Winning the FA Cup might save him. Not doing either? It’s goodbye. But I don’t think winning the FA Cup would be enough to save Wenger if they don’t finish in the top four again."
There ye go, both managers face the sack, only a win will save them, he does have a point though; both managers do face the sack, but it will not be based on this game, ultimately finishing in the top 4 is what both Wenger and Van Gaal will be judged on. How sad that is, to think that these two clubs are now not only battling it out for the consolation prize of English football in the F.a cup, but also for the top 4. This game should be about the title; it should be the best game in English football. Only Liverpool rival the prestige of both these clubs, and yet they are the third wheel in the top four race, and ironically the biggest obstacle to both of these clubs in winning the F.a cup, and they will surely book their place in a Wembley semi-final as they face Blackburn at home tomorrow. For now, however, the title race is all about the two teams built on an empire of money and whose players bleed oil; all focus is on that consolation prize.
I think Monday's game is a must win for Arsene Wenger, he has been at the club since 1996, revolutionized English football; but its now time for him to prove that he can lead a team post-revolution and post-Emirates financial hardship; he has spent the money, he has built another capable squad, last seasons F.a cup win was encouraging, the first building blocks to another title winning team but that ship has sailed this season, and only an F.a cup win and a top 3 finish can be looked at as a minimum return. Arsene needs to win this tie.
Subjectively, Cosmic Kid.
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