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Monday 26 February 2007

Can We Kick It?

It’s ironic that it should be Abou Diaby who ends up injured, after his (unintentional) efforts to put John Terry’s head into row Z. In truth it’s a bit of a metaphor for Sunday’s Carling Cup Final, as all the artistry of Arsène Wenger’s Young Guns was rebuffed by the Blues undeniably staunch resilience. When it was reported that Terry was suffering from a touch of memory loss, if only someone could have slipped a red & white shirt into his bag, he might have come back thinking he was an Arsenal player!

Believe me I love Philip Senderos. You couldn’t possibly wish for a more committed and wholehearted player. However sadly I get the sense that past encounters with Didier Drogba and his inability to prevent the Ivorian getting the better of him, have done irreparable damage to the Swiss centre-back’s psyche. In this respect I would’ve felt a lot more confident to have seen Djourou lining up alongside Kolo Touré on Sunday, as at least his Swiss compatriot wouldn’t have brought any such baggage to the game. Whereas to my mind the individual battle between Senderos and Drogba was lost before they even stepped onto the pitch and thus it was a bit like watching Groundhog Day, seeing Drogba get goal side of Senderos to score the equaliser and then escaping him again to head home what eventually proved to be the winner.

The less said about the melée at the end of the match, the better. The fact that it was sparked off by a bit of shirt-tugging should leave them all, especially Kolo, our captain on the day, feeling duly embarrassed. Most annoying as far as I was concerned, was that with so much injury time still to play, I hadn’t given up all hope of our youngsters digging deep, for one last assault on the trophy. It would’ve been far more fitting for the Gunners to have gone out in a blaze of glory, than to have the fire of this titanic contest doused by the wet blanket of that unseemly stramash.

Still we have to take comfort in the thought that in the long term, the bitter taste of a Cup Final defeat is likely to stand many of these youngsters in a lot better stead, as they make use of such miserable memories, as motivation to go on and achieve the sort of greatness that is expected of them. Although I can’t help feeling that our Carling Cup kids really deserve to have something to show, in return for the unadulterated joy we’ve experienced throughout the course of this season’s competition, as a result of their audacious and totally fearless brand of football.

Arsène Wenger also deserves some credit, as in his desire to get the better of his opposite number, I’m sure there must’ve been moments when he was tempted to temper the enthusiasm of youth, with the inclusion of a couple of more experienced old hands. However this was one hand of cards which had to be played to its ultimate conclusion, as the amazing exploits of his incredibly talented bunch of teenagers, away from home against increasingly obdurate opponents, had earned every one of them the right to appear in the final.

What’s more, whilst Wenger has in the past been accused of belittling this competition, he has in fact almost single-handedly breathed life back into a tournament that in truth was looking long past its sell-by date. Instead of being the FA Cup’s poor relation, it has been Wenger’s policy of using the Carling Cup as a proving ground for the kids, which has given the tournament a unique and distinct flavour all of its own. Combined with the innovative “kids for a quid” type ticket pricing introduced by some enlightened clubs, the competition has evolved into a showcase for the country’s brightest young stars on the pitch, while the high-pitched shrieks of joy from the terraces have been confirmation of the cup’s newly acquired status, offering thousands of young fans an introduction to the pleasures of live footie that they might otherwise be denied.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not such a hypocrite as to suggest I wouldn’t have been a lot happier to have seen Thierry Henry holding the trophy aloft on Sunday afternoon. However the momentary misery of our defeat in the Millennium will have long since evaporated, while the legacy offered by the likes of Denilson, Traore, Walcott and co. is something that Arsenal fans are likely to be savouring for several years to come. Set against the background of such an incredibly bright future, a three-eared silver pot looks pretty worthless by comparison.

Meanwhile our manager is tasked with raising the mood in the Arsenal camp in time for Wednesday’s FA Cup replay at Ewood Park. As is often the case for successful sides at this time of the season, we find ourselves in the midst of a make or break period, where either the disappointment of Sunday’s defeat will prove to be the fuel which will drive us on to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup and the Champions League, or the damp squib that will see our entire season fizzle out in the space of a mere few days.

Obviously I have faith in the Gunners fortitude and in truth I wouldn’t be too unhappy if the FA inflict the sort of severe punishment on the club, for the handbags incident at the end of the match in Cardiff, that's been the catalyst for creating just the sort of fortress Arsenal spirit, which has proved such successful inspiration in the past. There’s no doubting the oodles of ability inherent in Wenger’s current squad. Now if we could add a burning sense of injustice, to spice up our patient brand of football, surely we’d leave patently inferior opposition such as Rovers and PSV, trailing in our wake?

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Anonymous said...

Yes we can! Great title i saw that ad thought it was 1992. Just one thing though Senderos has come in for a lot of bad press after this game when the first goal was actually a result of a lack of Traore's positional sense and Almunia's horrible luck with shots going through his legs in finals. The 2nd goalwas as unstoppable as ours v Man U and sometimes you just have to accept defeat and not blame Swiss Tony or anyone else. I actually thought he did remarkably well considering for large parts of the game he was covering both LCB and LB positions, just my thoughts.

Anonymous said...


Was just browsing through google and found this forum figured I would sign up and wish you all a happy new years.

Have a good 2010 !!