Carling Cup, Denilson and Fabianski

Still freezing here but everything seems to be working again from a technical point of view. Not that that’s a decent trade off or anything. Especially this morning as I have to go out in that stoopid weather.

Anyway, the draw for the semi-finals of the Carling Cup was made last night and over two legs we’ll play Ipswich for a place in the final. It’s certainly the best draw we could have got. Birmingham and West Ham will play the other semi. We’re at Portman Road for the first leg on Jan 11/12th with the second leg at home on the 25/26th.

Without being in any way cocky about it you really have to fancy our chances – and if we can’t beat Ipswich over two legs then we’re not a team that deserves to win the trophy. They’ll go into it as total underdogs, with nothing to lose, and although cup football throws up some surprises from time to time they generally don’t happen over two games. Anyway, we can think more about that closer to the time.

Denilson reckons winning the Carling Cup would be a stepping stone to more trophies, saying:

I think winning it will help in the major competitions. If you win the Carling Cup, then after will come the FA Cup, then after the Premier League and the Champions League. I think this year we can be stronger. In some games we have shown that we can win trophies. If you can win trophies people will believe in Arsenal.

Slightly mixed message there, in fairness. I don’t know in which games we showed we can win trophies because we haven’t actually won any trophies and the only way you can show that you can win trophies is by winning trophies. However, I can’t find any fault for the first part of the quote. Whatever anyone might think of the Carling Cup and its importance this team needs a trophy above all else.

Tony Adams described Arsenal as a ‘nearly side’ until they won the League Cup against Liverpool in 1987 and said it gave them the belief and confidence to go and win more. We’ve got to be sure we don’t take our eye off the ball because the league and Europe remain the priorities but it’s a fantastic chance to prove they’ve got what it takes to win something.

It’s also interesting that in facing Ipswich we play a team that beat us in the 1978 FA Cup final and could face West Ham in the final who beat us in the 1980 FA Cup final. I still can’t bear the sight of Trevor Brooking and his stooping header ways.

Despite lots of talk about January signings, particularly in the defensive department, the manager says he’ll be keeping his cheque-book just the way he likes it … closed. He says:

I don’t know where to put the players. If you buy a player you have to give them a chance to play. Already we have international players who don’t get enough games

I can see where he’s coming from but I guess much depends on the injury to Thomas Vermaelen and the health and fitness of our other centre-halves. One injury means we’re down to just two fit defenders in that position and with cups, league and Europe that could seriously stretch us. During the game on Tuesday night the commentator said that Vermaelen would be out until the new year ‘at the earliest’.

Of course it sounds much further away than it actually is, seeing as we’re in December and all, but we’ve been hearing about his imminent return and subsequent setbacks for some time now. So while he might not be planning on spending, and hopefully we see Vermaelen back soon, I would hope he’s got some contingency plan beyond that of playing Alex Song at centre-half if it comes to it.

That particular area aside I can’t see anything else happening in the transfer window. Those who feel a goalkeeper is a requirement will be disappointed, I’m sure. In fact he might well let Almunia go if the whispers are correct. Luksasz Fabianski, whatever you might think of him, looks to be the number 1 now and with Wojscez©® signing a 5 year deal it’s clear enough where the future of that position lies.

Fabianski talks to ESPN here (on video too – thanks @waiphyok) and says that mistakes made him better:

I think you have to use every game you have played in a positive way, even if you have played badly. You have to always make some conclusions from every single game. Going through that difficult period helped me to become a better ‘keeper.

The cunning bastard. He played shit on purpose so that when he played well, on purpose, he’d look better than normal. Crafty. In seriousnes though he seems to have improved well (although that wouldn’t have been hard) and the manager has plenty of faith in him. Whether he’s good enough to keep Wojscez©® out in the long term remains to be seen. The younger Pole took some delight in informing everyone via his Twitter he’s yet to concede a goal while playing for the first team. So, I don’t see any money being spent there.

Nor up in midfield, when we’ll welcome Ramsey and Lansbury back from their loan spells. The former looking to regain his place in the team, the latter aiming to make the breakthrough I think he’s capable of. And up front we’ll be boosted by the availability of Wellington, the young Brazilian in whom there are very high hopes indeed. So that’s a fairly long-winded way of agreeing with Arsene, for the most part.

Right, that will have to do for today – but remember if you need to pass time in work try some Arsenal Videos. We can start to look at the Fulham game in tomorrow’s blog which will be accompanied, as usual, with a steaming lump of aural arse.

Till then.

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