The Carling Cup Final Preview: Time to end the wait 26 February, 2011Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
Well it’s been a long wait but tomorrow we can eradicate the phrase ‘Arsenal have won nothing since 2005′ with 90 minutes of football. Birmingham City stand in our way and they will be fighting for the trophy just as much as we will, it’s huge for them and they will be thinking they’ve beaten us before and they can do it again. This season we’ve beaten them 2-1 and 3-0 and are definite favourites for tomorrow. This might not be the biggest competition out there but it certainly one we want to win. I see it more of a stepping-stone to greater things, if we can win tomorrow it’ll be a big confidence boost for the lads and hopefully inspire us on to greater things. Opta research has shown that a Carling Cup win can improve a teams results in the league.
Birmingham will be pleased that Stoke managed to take out two of our most dangerous players for tomorrow. Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott will both miss out and I’m gutted for them. The captain has a small hamstring injury but Wenger says it’s too risky to play him tomorrow. Cesc has wanted to win a trophy with Arsenal for years, he was on the bench the last time we lifted silverware in 2005 and he would’ve been hoping to play a vital part in any new successes. He says he’s come to terms with not being able to play and it’s for the best. As much as we would all like to see him lead us out an aggravation to his injury could mean he is out for 4 or 5 weeks as opposed to one or two games which is the current diagnosis. He should count himself lucky – Theo Walcott is out for two or three weeks with his ankle strain and is very unlikely to face Barcelona. So at least he can have some consolation of getting himself fit and ready for the Champions League second leg, plus there’s two more chances of a Wembley cup final this season so don’t worry Cesc!
“He’s had very good game. His confidence has grown, his responsibility has grown, certainly. Our game goes naturally through Fabregas. When he’s not there, it will go more through Wilshere.
The way of the game is simple: it goes always through the team’s strong points. So that the game goes through Wilshere is a good thing for him because it means the players around him have confidence in him. He will enjoy this game.”
Jack has been brilliant for us this season and I have no doubt he will be ready for tomorrow’s Wembley cup final. I remember watching him in pre-season and him standing out but he’s gone from strength to strength and established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet. Jack says he wants us to win it for Cesc and invite the captain up to the podium to lift the trophy. Just because he can’t make the final doesn’t mean he hasn’t contributed to our Carling Cup campaign. He’s been brilliant in this competition, he scored the goal that secured our place in tomorrow’s game so it is a shame he can’t make it but he’s made a massive contribution to the team and if we can go all the way tomorrow there’s only one man I want to see lift that cup.
So with that injury news in mind, I think we will line up like this:
Sagna – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy
Song – Wilshere
Bendtner – van Persie (c) – Arshavin
That is a team more than capable to add the first item to our 2011 trophy cabinet. Of course we’ll miss Cesc but Nasri has shown time and time again that in his absence he can do just as good a job in the role and as Wenger says, Wilshere will control that midfield. The only other option I see is Diaby coming into the midfield with Nasri moving into that three-man attack. It depends on how Arsene wants to play it and also how well Diaby has recovered from his injury.
Birmingham have a few selection problems of their own. Alexandr Hleb was stretchered off last weekend and is a doubt for tomorrow’s game. From seeing what he can do when he’s in form first hand I’d prefer it if he doesn’t make it. They’re also without David Bentley and Curtis Davis who are both cup-tied and Scott Dann is out for the season. Cameron Jerome looks like he will be fit but I expect Obafemi Martins and Zigic to start up front. Obviously Zigic’s height will be used to try cause us problems but if Djourou and Koscielny can repeat some of those great recent defensive partnerships we should be alright.
Birmingham are going to give it a real go, to win tomorrow would be a dream for their fans and there’s no doubt they’re not going to roll over and let us win. Alex McLeish says they will stifle Arsenal and try to disrupt our game. That has worked in the past for them at home but I think tomorrow, in a neutral stadium, the better footballing side will prevail.
I can’t wait to be walking down Wembley Way tomorrow afternoon. It’s something that has given me goose bumps since a very young age, old stadium or new. We were there a couple of season ago in the FA Cup semi final and that was special, tomorrow will be our first cup final at the new ground and I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t think anyone tomorrow will be thinking ‘it’s just the Carling Cup’, 90,000 fans will be on the edge of their seats singing their hearts out and 22 players on the pitch will be giving everything to win that cup.
I’m already buzzing with excitement but I have to try and get an early night tonight, my coach leaves Bournemouth at 9.45am tomorrow getting me to Wembley super early about half 12. However I have a feeling there’ll be tens of thousands others milling around. It’s set to be a great day out and the time has finally come for this Arsenal team full of potential to go all the way and win their first competition as a team.
I’m hoping that after tomorrow the phrase will now be ”Arsenal have won nothing apart from the Carling Cup since 2005′.
Wherever you’re watching, enjoy the game and make yourselves heard for The Arsenal.
Come on you Gunners!