I remember someone once saying to me ‘you have to experience the lows in order to appreciate the highs.’ I don’t think that person was drunk at the time of saying those words, so I have tried to apply them to Arsenal’s current predicament. We went unbeaten for a whole season, demolished most sides in our path and played some stonkingly good football at the same time. We were the envy of the League, its managers and the blueprint for sides to follow. Fast-forward seven or so years to a cold and wet night at St. Mary’s; Arsenal can hardly string two passes together against a team fighting for relegation and playing poorly in attack themselves. Wenger turns to his bench, which resembles more a bunch of clowns, and decides to bring on Gervinho. Unsurprisingly, the only terrorising he achieves is of the turf, as he bumbles and falls on numerous occasions with the ball at his feet. The Arsenal fans think back to Pires, Ljungberg and co. then look back once again to the Ivorian who has still not finished gesticulating to the ref for the grass to receive a booking. All this while Southampton are attacking down his side!
Is THAT the low we needed to appreciate those good times? I don’t think it’s one just for me to decide, but myself, Nick and a total neutral for Sunday’s game, will try to pick up the pieces and look ahead to a thrilling FA Cup tie with Swansea.
Well Max thanks for joining us. As an avid fan of the FA Cup, a competition that has escaped customary name changes and negativity during its illustrious history, it’s great to have your thoughts on Sunday’s game for this match preview. With your team, Cheltenham Town, playing Everton on Monday, I know you will still have a keen eye on how Swansea fare against our boys in red. Arsene’s tactics to bore the opposition to death didn’t quite work against the Saints and I am sure we will see a change to the formation come Sunday.
As you know a fair bit about Swansea too, where do you think can they hurt us, goal machine Michu aside, and can they repeat THAT performance from the Emirates? We know their strengths, in fact we used to possess those very same strengths. . . however they now appear to be more lost than Gervinho on a pitch, which is very lost indeed. Arsene did buy himself a new coat it seems while he scours the footballing globe for the next bargain star. So as an outsider looking in at our club, where do you think we can we strengthen in the next month? Or does selling our deadwood do that for us anyway! Answers on a text please..
Taxi for Maxi 19.28
Hello Nick, Tom and the avid readers of Backpagebanter. What a delight it is to be onboard for a one-off FA Cup extravaganza. What’s more, what an intriguing tie this is, made ever spicier given Swansea’s heroics at the Emirates. With my beloved Cheltenham in action on Monday it gives me a chance to soak up some real thrillers beforehand. How times have changed though! The fact Swansea may well be favourites in most people’s eyes is something no one would have even comprehended a decade ago. Now thanks to the brilliant reigns of Roberto Martinez and Rodgers and some shrewd signings by new gaffer Laudraup, they have all the artillery to fire the gunners back home with nothing, excuse the pun!
Michu aside, Arsenal’s XI still have a job on their hands in order to keep the other Swansea players quiet. The likes of Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge are enough to unlock most defences, so Arsenal’s leaky back-four should be a doddle! As for the Gunners, experienced heads need to step up. Walcott needs to provide consistency to add to his hatful of goals and the likes of Cazorla and Podolski need to fire far more often.
You’d go as far as saying that Arsenal confidence-wise are at a real low, so fresh old heads are needed in the transfer market. It’s time to ditch the youth policy and bring in some Wesley Sneijder / David Villa-esque quality. Players who are established and will make an instant impact. The likes of Djourou and Squillaci look like they will be replaced so another Vermaelen type signing is also a must in my eyes. Arsene Wenger, step up and be counted and silence those doubters yet again!
Good evening gents, thank you Max for being on the panel and offering a neutral perspective on this weekend’s matchup! As the FA Cup returns with a trip to Wales, this one has all the makings - on paper anyway – of being a very tricky game! We all know, however, that the game isn’t played on paper! Swansea will be a tough nut to crack and will have that mental edge after beating us in our own back yard earlier this season!
A million miles below average performance against the Saints in our last outing doesn’t fill us with too much optimism. Southampton deserve a bit of credit for their performance though, but I can’t help stating the obvious in that Arsenal made it far too easy for them with some awful passing and no real passion or drive! Walcott down the middle didn’t really work for me. I think a Giroud type figure alongside him could be a better option as Walcott doesn’t seem to have the strength and awareness to hold up the ball. Subsequently we seem to have sacrificed any real possession in the opposition’s half. This would mean Wenger going out of his way and changing from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 with maybe Cazorla going out wide as a lot of fans have suggested. Recently he seems like a lost sheep in the centre of midfield. This would allow Giroud to come on in place of Podolski, who just isn’t offering enough out wide no matter what anyone says. The sooner we can get Diaby fit and on the pitch again the better! f he can stay fit for most of the season, you never know what could happen. Although there’s probably more chance of Pat Rice being made prime minister than there is of Diaby keeping himself injury free!
Gervinho is off to the AFCON and I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to wish him all the best and hope he gets to the final. He’s another player who just isn’t good enough if Arsenal are to be serious again and challenge for the rest of the season. As Ba heads to Chelsea, Arsenal are on the hunt for a striker themselves with David Villa being strongly linked to the club. A few doubts surround that one still and whether Wenger would pay his wages etc. remains to be seen. I think it’s more likely that Wenger would buy a Villa in Spain for his summer holidays! Watch this space on that one though (Wenger buying a holiday home that is).
The build up is well underway for this weekend’s cup bonanza, they talk of the magic of the cup, so let’s hope Arsenal provide a bit of magic and Wenger has his magic hat on otherwise come Sunday afternoon us Arsenal fans could be leaving Wales a little sheepishly and with no Demba Baaa to save us! COYG!!
Well that all made for easier reading than I was expecting after the Saints game. I suppose plenty can happen in the Cup as Max has said. We could dominate the game, run out comfortable winners, and even sign David Villa, Yanga Mbiwa and Leighton Baines before I have even decided what to have for tea. They don’t make cup days like that anymore! Those three would be my ideal signings as it goes. I think so many of the names we have been linked with recently make us seem more and more like a mid-table club. Many are quick to jump on a name, but have they really looked into what they could bring to the team? It’s more than likely that we will be beaten to the signing of the above three anyway, so I hope they are just the alluring smokescreen to the 3 true gems Wenger has been plotting this whole time under that big coat! Let’s get Swansea out-of-the-way, or at least back to ours before we start dreaming of what might be! Oh and for the record, Theo is not, and will never be, like a new signing, just as Pat Rice is not a new and exciting coach since being awarded an MBE!
Every game is a battle now. It’s time for the boys to step up and be counted.
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