PGL: Well Wednesday was pants, the FA Cup semi final all over again. Seeing a difference in class I can take but when it appears to be a difference in attitude, that is sickening. After four changes of under garments, I sat down with a bottle of my favourite Irish drop and found myself 90 minutes later deflated and frustrated. But PGL is never down for long! This team has proved all season that we are a second half side. It’s half time in this tie and we’re 1-0 down. Heroics from our custodian and a lot of luck means we are still in with a chance.
The kids and the Russian will probably face Pompey in what will probably be a nothing game and our season rests on Tuesday, which should I’m going to be spelling from this point until kick off as ‘Choose-day’. Several of our big players need to choose to show up, choose to play, choose to prove they are worthy of wearing the canon.
PGL: For me, the Big Issue is what ever happened to 4-4-2? Cesc is not Steven Gerrard. He’s not Dennis Bergkamp. He’s fu*king Cesc Fabregas and that’s what he does best, play his natural game not mimic someone else. You can mix the numbers up all you want 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1 blah blah blah blah. It all boils down to one thing… Getting your best players on the ball. For us that means a playing Cesc in the centre of midfield. He is the cake not the icing. The ice-cream not the cherry. He will never be a split striker.
Ade is an all-together different problem. IMO he’s not interested when asked to play the loan striker. He needs a ball carrier alla Hleb behind him to link with, or an RVP creating space for him by dragging defenders wide, not a Fabregas, constantly looking for him to make searching runs, he simply hasn’t got the application of effort for that. Arsene is asking too many players to go against there instincts IMO. That is not me condoning Ade’s performance simply trying to understand how a 30 goal striker suddenly becomes pants. If RVP can get himself fit and partner him on Choose-day I think we have a chance. If not, Ade will stroll about, complain, wander offside and we’ll wander off the park second best.
FTK: I remain mystified about the way in which Arsene Wenger gambles upon the big occasion only to get it so spectacularly wrong. Had it not been for Almunia, the tie would be over now. But we have seen this behaviour more than once before. I remember being at the Millennium Stadium when we played Yanited in the FA Cup final. The formation had Dennis Bergkamp playing as the lone striker up front. There gasps of incredulity from fans and the media alike. We were battered that day by Rooney and should have lost in 90 minutes, only we hung on for Paddy Vieira to smash home his last ever kick for the club, to lead us to victory by penalties before leaving the Gunners. That day we were hit by injuries. The fighting spirit of the Gunners prevailed, and I have no doubt that Arsene is planning yet another shock for Sir Alex Ferguson.
Yet his faith in certain players is tantamount to stubbornness. The other games where it hasn’t worked include the infamous 5-1 defeat by the Spuds at White Hart lane in the Carling Cup semi-final?, then later that season the defeat by Yanited in the FA Cup. Finally the semi-final of the FA Cup against Chelsea at Wembley where he refused to play Arshavin, was yet another example of how the genius that is Arsene Wenger was exposed as human. The question is how much can we take? The frustration of seeing Trophies disappear when we had a good chance of reaching the final, hampers the belief of our young players. It’s almost as though BBC’s Alan Hansen put a curse on the club when he uttered those immortal words. “You never win anything with youngsters” Well I beg to differ, it depends which youngsters actually.
Arsene Wenger has the last opportunity to get us to the Champions League final, and I am tipping him to do it. Why? Because there is another trait of the great Arsene Wenger, which is why I refuse to give up on the man, and that is at moments like this, he delivers against all odds. The over confidence of the Mancs going into the return leg at The Emirates to become the first team to retain the Champions League will be a major weakness. Accompanied by Arsenal having been already written off by the media, It is from these positions as underdogs that Arsene Wenger galvanises the players and their performance rises and snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. I have argued that despite the painful frustration of having Arsene Wenger’s team selections on days like this, would you really bet against him coming through? I shall be at the Emirates cheering the lads as loudly as I can next Tuesday. This is only half time, and I recall writing that I was confident in an Arsenal victory over two legs. We have to plan on scoring three goals, because I cannot see Almunia keeping a clean sheet with our current defensive frailety. So the result will be 3-1 to the Gunners! OK?
PGL: Diaby has come in for a lot of stick. And to be honest, rightly so. He was our most ineffective player. The only thing he does is remind us of how great Viera was by being the exact opposite. He struggled with 5 yards passes and looked meek as a lamb in the tackle. I’m not usually one to run down our own but what does the guy offer? Two maybe three performances a season? Yes, he’s suffered with injuries but there’s a point when you simply must start to provide a return on the clubs investment and Diaby’s credit terms have been reached and breached. No more chances, perform or hang up your Arsenal boots and move on.
FTK: I am going to agree to disagree. I wish to put the case for Diaby. Let us not forget that he is a developing young player with much potential, but how much of his frustrating performances can be laid at the door of the positions that he is selected to play in? This the same player that can give a Vieira like performance when played centrally in midfield, and who could have forgotten his tricks and skills when he played as a striker against Fenerbache? He has obvious flaws I’ll admit, in that he either gets dispossessed after some amazing dribbling, or he gives away the ball after doing all that hard work. But he remains a quality prospect and with Eduardo injured again, and van Persie going through a quiet patch before getting injured, Diaby being played up front could be a master stroke in my opinion. I still have great hopes for the player, and the odds are stacked heavily in his favour for producing a good performance. I know that played out wide, we never see his best, and hopefully Arsene Wenger will bring in none other than Eboue and push Diaby forward through the centre, either behind the strikers or up front in his own right. Recall all of the criticism against Song? Now look at him. Sometimes we have to trust Arsene Wenger and not let our frustrations cloud the fact that these are still very young players, who are playing at the highest level.
“There is a Final at stake. Don’t worry, when you play at home knowing you could reach a Final, we will be up for it. I am confident because I believe we will be on top next Tuesday and you will see a different Arsenal team.”
PGL: When people have a go at us for not having enough grit they often add that more English players would take care of that. It