Thursday, January 13, 2011
Let's be honest, the priority for Arsenal this season is to win a trophy. Any trophy. That means, as sad as it sounds, the Carling Cup semi-final second leg against Ipswich will now be a huuuuuge game.
You can't start a fire without a spark. If and when Arsenal win the Carling Cup, the begrudgers will belittle the achievement. That's understandable, especially considering the best team Arsenal have had to beat so far is Tottenham reserves. Still, Arsene Wenger would rightly see Carling Cup triumph as Michael Collins saw the Treaty: a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
There are not many players in the current Arsenal squad who have tasted sweet success; perhaps a perceived "small" victory could prove the catalyst for bigger ones. As it is, there still seems a disturbing lack of either desire or nerve in the Arsenal ranks. The side that faced Ipswich in the first leg was full of experience, and even had Fabregas at its core. Disappointing, then, that they failed to impose themselves against limited opposition. To say, honestly, that Ipswich are worth their first leg lead speaks of the poverty of Arsenal's performance.
Still, if they bring their A game to to the home leg, all this should be rendered irrelevant.
Paul Jewell will be in charge of the Tractor Boys at the Emirates, which rekindles horrible memories of a recent Carling Cup semi-final second leg. Robin Van Persie's extra-time whopper of a free kick had Arsenal leading Wigan 2-1, before two lumbering tanks allowed Jason Roberts to score a late, late, away goals winner.
Let's hope Djourou's fitness holds up, because Koscielny and Squillaci have together shown an ineptitude worthy of Senderos and Campbell that night in 2006.