Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Don't matter how many times you get burnt, you just keep doin' the same"

If Arsenal contrive to mess this up, it becomes hard to see where the next trophy is coming from.

In the past, the reserve teams that Wenger has put out in the Carling Cup have performed very well. They've reached a few semi-finals and a final. The feeling has grown over the fallow years since 2005 that if they fully committed themselves, they would win it.

This season, Wenger has fielded a strong side in every round. He has shown he is committed to trying to win the competition. But the players still have to match that. The first leg against Ipswich was yet another sad return to the complacency that has blighted Arsenal in recent years.

They should be itching to win silverware- any silverware. At half-time, Paul Merson said:
I think Arsenal have turned up and thought, we'll roll these over and we'll move on and we'll be playing at Wembley at the end of February
and it's hard to disagree with that. It wouldn't be the first time that their attitude has let them down.

Ipswich are, ostensibly, a club in turmoil. They've just changed managers and shipped seven at the weekend against Chelsea. At the same time, a new manager often has a galvanising effect. The players may feel liberated, with the tyranny of Roy Keane consigned to the past.

No excuses though. Any Arsenal team should be able to sweep aside lower division opposition. Coming off the back of a poor showing against Leeds, this is worrying.

A lot of the players look out of sorts. Cesc Fabregas, even, gave the ball away a lot. Bendtner's self-image continues to look delusional at best. Arshavin's travails continue. If Denilson is the answer, what is the question?

The fancy dannery around the edge of the box is making Arsenal look toothless again, and they can concede to any team, at any time. A bad mix.

The tie should, of course, still be salvaged. Arsenal will fancy themselves to win by two clear goals at home to Ipswich. But they have consistently struggled at home this season and if the players don't perform convincingly, the fans' frustrations will show.

The difficult and important games are piling on, and with the squad looking inadequate in places, the pragmatist knows:
the Carling Cup remains Arsenal's best chance of silverware.

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