Citeh Looming

Manchester Citeh at home looms up on the horizon this Saturday tea-time. It’s an important game. Not for the reasons we’d have liked to have been though. We need six points from our remaining three games to nail down a third place finish. Draw or lose on Saturday and we’ll have to win away at Ewood Park and home to Fulham on the last day of the Premier League season to be absolutely sure of not dropping to fourth.
I’m probably one of a small minority of Gooners who holds this opinion, but I’d swap a fourth place finish for the FA Cup. I’m still irritated at the way we went out in the fourth round in the Potteries this season. It’s starting to happen too often in this great old competition. Our team selection at Wembley in the semi-final against Chelsea last season. Our supine surrender against United at Old Trafford a couple of seasons ago. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
I’ve always enjoyed the Carling Cup too. Although it’s a “Johnny Come Lately” as a competition it’s both broken my heart (1968, 1969, 1988, 2008) and raised my spirits (1987, 1993). I support Arsčne’s decision to play the youngsters in this competition though. They’ve given us some great cup nights to remember. The FA Cup we should be taking more seriously than we do. Having said that, Wenger does have a good record in the great old competition with four wins, a runners-up spot and two losing semi-finals. In the last few seasons he’s been far too cavalier in team selection in the FA Cup for my taste. His lack of concern for this competition transmits itself to the players. Asking good money from fans is a bit much when the club isn’t taking the tournament as seriously as it should. The Carling Cup is one thing. Neither we nor Liverpool entered the competition until it was made compulsory by the Football League. The FA Cup is another. It deserves more respect.
That off my chest, we need to concentrate on securing the six points necessary to guarantee a third place finish before our international players all go off to join their national teams for the World Cup. Off the field, I hope that Arsčne is working with Ivan Gazidis and Richard Law to identify and sign the manager’s transfer targets for the coming summer window. If any of the players he wants are going to the World Cup then there is a tendency for their fees and salaries to shoot up on the basis of a good performance in the tournament. With our scouting network we should know exactly who we want. Now’s the time to go and get them.
On the field Arsene needs to fire a severe rocket up the rear end of the players for a horribly lackadaisical performance at the DW Stadium last Sunday. Any repeat of that this coming weekend won’t be acceptable. We need all minds on the job in hand. Whether the players are heading for South Africa or the beach that can wait for a few weeks.
Keep the faith!

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