So, FA Cup 5th round time and we’re off to play Leyton Orient.
The magic of the cup was evident yesterday as first Anelka, then Cashley, missed penalties to send holders Chelsea crashing out. We have to hope the magic is our boots today and not in those of potential giant killers. I’ve always felt Arsenal going out of the FA Cup to lower league opposition isn’t very magical at all, really. Or if it is it’s like David Blaine’s magic. Tedious, annoying, droning and it makes you want to punch it in the face. With a tyre iron. That’s been held over an open fire for 30 seconds.
There will be changes today, no doubt about it. The boss has been explaining the need for rotation and it’s all tied to competition for places:
If you have too many players it is demotivating for the players never involved. If you have not enough it is demotivating because they feel too secure. Competition is part of our job. It is difficult to keep them happy.
That said, this season won’t have been too difficult for the manager to make decisions about who to play and when. Lack of form from certain players means when the big games come around they’re going to be warming the bench. The FA Cup has been a way for some of them to remind the manager they’ve got something to offer. Mostly, however, they’ve reassured him he’s been making the right decisions.
For today I suspect we’ll see the following: Almunia – Eboue – Squillaci – Koscielny – Gibbs – Denilson – Song – Rosicky – Bendtner – Chamakh – Arshavin
Obviously there’ll be a strong bench should it be required but you have to hope we can do the job without stretching ourselves too much. The forward three is interesting. Chamakh has really gone off the boil since the first half of the season in which he acquited himself very well. A goal today would be timely. Bendtner will look to add to his goal tally to become even more awesome than The Beatles and Jesus, and Arshavin, about whom there have been reports of unhappiness, will want to remind the manager he should be a first team player.
The goal against Barcelona will have done him good, I’m sure, and while he might have gone off down the tunnel in a hurry he looked happy enough when he scored it. And it all goes back to what the manager says about competition. You don’t get a place in the team on reputation, you get it on performance, and for quite a while his performances weren’t very good. Simple as that. However, Arsene says:
It has been a difficult period for Andrei because I felt he did not play at his level. In the last two weeks he is coming back to a good level. I like Andrei as a man. He doesn’t hide his feelings. He is a positive person. He is very self-critical.
No doubt he wants to play in the Camp Nou. I’d be worried about any player who didn’t, so hopefully his revival will continue. As for Orient I know very little about them, how they play or anything like that. Suffice to say any team that goes into a cup tie underestimating the opposition simply because of the league they play in is foolish indeed. They’re in a good run of form, unbeaten in 11 games, and with no pressure on them at all they can have a real go today.
Unless we approach this game with the same determination and character as we have most other games in recent times we could find ourselves with tricky task on our hands. And given our fixture schedule at the moment the last thing we need is a replay. Fingers crossed we can do this the easy way, something that we haven’t yet managed in this competition this season.
Kick off is 4.30 – you can join me for the live blog later on when, 5 Live style, I’ll be handing over to another commentator halfway through. Details on the blog closer to kick off.
In a quick Sunday round-up, Wojscez©® in the Telegraph talks about being number 1 at the club. On the official site he says he wants to be number 1 for a decade. He’s only 20, I don’t think 2 decades is too much to ask.
And his Twitterings post Chelsea were highly amusing indeed. Don’t forget the Arseblog page on which you can keep up with the Arsenal players on Twitter.
Arsene Wenger reckons Jack Wilshere is like Paul Scholes. I see where he’s coming from with that. They’re both small and very good at football. Jack is a better tackler though. Mostly.
In the Mirror some quotes from the boss on how the lower leagues are producing better players while more quotes state the obvious in that he doesn’t want to sell any of his best players. There’s a shocker.
Right, time for a pork based breakfast. Catch you later.