Just a quick prematch blog before I depart for the game. Today’s FA Cup semi final will finally answer the question of whether this young squad have finally matured enough to put in performances on the highest stage in Football. Wembley stadiums’s pitch will not be the kind of billiard beize of old, and I predict that after a few crunching tackles in midfield, the interupption in the roll of the ball may prove disconcerting for the fine touch players. The weather is due to be set fine and so all that could interfere with the aspirations of Arsenal’s first major attempt of silverware this season is the long list defender injuries.
Just when the tempo and accuracy of Wengerball has returned to strike fear into the hearts of opponents who have yet to play us, the stability of the back four is yet again threatened by the absence of young Keiran Gibbs with a groin strain and Bacary Sagna with what is described as an illness. So no Gallas, Almunia, Clichy, Sagna, Djourou or Gibbs. Can any Gooner be confident that our team will be able to withstand the threat of Anelka, Drogba, Kalou and Alex? Yes I say Alex, as his height will be key at set pieces, and with a scatch back four we are in for a torrid time.
Our back four lineup would appear to be Toure and Song as Centre backs, neither very assured in the air, and I would expect Hiddink to employ the aerial threat repeatedly. Whilst we move to the possible midfield quintet of Arshavin Fabregas Denilson van Persie and Nasri, we will rely on perhaps Adebayor to step up and push the Chelsea defence back. John Terry will probably return despite the misinformation about his injury. A game always played by coaches. It was his absence that has produced an unaccustomed leaking of the previously tight back four. Chelsea are clear favourites going into this tie, but that is the beuty and magic of the FA Cup. Just when you least expect it, the most unlikley of results can occur.
So Arsenal’s best plan for defence is to attack, which where our French wizard will come in today. His ability to change pace off the inside leg on turning makes him able to appear to go pace defenders. Coming in off the flanks, he can create havoc in the congested danger areas. Combine that with Arshavin’s ability to strike fierce shots, if Chelsea decide to stand off then they could unwittingly play into Arshavin’s and Nasri’s area of strength. Add to the additional threat of goal poacher Eduardo, then there is a lot of hope, even though Chelsea are the clear bookies favourites. So Good luck today boys. What ever the outcome, as long as every Gunner does his best, we the fans of this great club can ask for no more.
So onward to Wembley, from a somewhat subdued FTK, as the butterflies start to flutter, I maintain with so many key players out, today may not go the way that we want. But who cares? I shall enjoy the day and support our boys as loudly as I can. Good luck Gunners! Go out there and do your duty. Fight for every half ball, and wear your badge with pride. Enjoy the game, and keep those fingers cross four our back four.
Arsenal ‘til we die!
Fabregas the King.