Common sense prevails – the build-up begins

I woke up this morning wondering why on earth I felt the *boilk* the way I do. I only had four beers when I came in from 5-a-side last night.

As I was making coffee I remembered that the beer was Duvel, a whopping 9% in each bottle. And I’d had 5. And a wee tap of the Gentleman Jack. Still, it’s amazing how quickly one can move when one hears the elderly basset get out of bed, knowing that you’re in a race against his ever-loosening sphincter to get the back door open before, erm, his back door opens. Doesn’t do much for your hangover though.

Anyway. lots to talk about today with the Carling Cup final coming up tomorrow. At his press conference yesterday Arsene confirmed the absence of Cesc, in the short term, and Theo for about three weeks due to the injuries they picked up against Pubis FC. With regard to Cesc he played down any suggestion he might be able to play in the final, saying:

If he played this match, he could damage his participation in all the other targets we have. He could make the damage much worse and be out for three, four, five weeks maybe. The injury is a small one and it’s important he’s not out for longer.

And an obviously disappointed Cesc has no issue with that, saying:

The boss is right and the most important thing is to make sure I get fit as quickly as possible to help Arsenal for the rest of the season. So while it is agonising I can’t be with the lads on the pitch on Sunday, I’ll be working hard to ensure I am part of the whole adventure.

He goes on to say, in his column in the Sun:

The boss has also said the boys should go out and win the cup for me because I cannot play. That shows the spirit we have at Arsenal in the dressing room. But really, I would like them all to go out and win the Carling Cup for the club and for the supporters. They are the ones who have stuck by us and waited a long time for the chance to win a trophy.

As hard as it must be to miss a final it’s important to see the bigger picture and thankfully we have a captain who is level-headed and sensible enough to do that. Despite the disappointment there are no histrionics or tantrums and hopefully the team can do him proud tomorrow afternoon.

But now the focus has to turn to the team, to the players who will be out there at Wembley and the ones who will be tasked with winning the game. Arsene talks about there being a ‘weight’ on the team, which is completely natural when you’re at a club like Arsenal. There’s an expectation of success simply because under Arsene Wenger we grew used to it. Football is cyclical, however, there’ll be good times and bad, successful and not, and the time since we last lifted a trophy will always remain an issue.

Look at the squad we have, the talent, and how many of them have medals? Cesc and Robin from the 2005 FA Cup final, Clichy has a Premership winners medal from 2004 but he wasn’t really an integral part of the team that season. Besides that there isn’t an Arsenal winners medal to be found among any of them and that’s something they need to put right. The manager suggests winning tomorrow could bring more success and I think that’s a view many share.

Would the Anfield 89 team have had the success they did without the victory over Liverpool in 87? They also had the pain of Luton the following year to inspire them. This team has experienced the pain already. Two cup finals lost, chances for the league title have gone by the wayside for one reason or another, so it’s important that they make the next step and stop being nearly men. Bacary Sagna wants the team to take the next step, saying;

When we get close to winning something, we get scared, we stop playing. I hope [tomorrow] will be a good way to show everyone we can win things, and even more.We were scared, but we are not any more.

And let’s hope it is indeed the start of something, a platform for more trophies, more success. There’s no place for fear tomorrow and from Cesc’s column the players are going to treat it like any other game, which is probably the right way to do it. Of course there’s extra pressure and tension but keeping things as normal as possible will help counter that. Anyway, there’ll be a fuller preview in tomorrow’s blog.

In other news The Sun reports Samir Nasri has agreed a new five year deal worth a trillion bazillion pounds, as if that makes any difference to us whatsoever. The important thing is the five years part. Obviously, it being the Sun and all, we’ll hold off on the celebrations, but fingers crossed it’s true. I do know the club are confident he’ll sign so let’s wait for official confirmation.

The Independent follows up a story which appeared in the Mail last week about Chelsea trying to nab chief scout Steve Rowley. Losing him would be a big blow, not least because he’s worked with Arsene for years, knows his targets, his methods etc. And as you might imagine the way they’re ‘luring’ him is by throwing outrageous amounts of cash at him. We’ll keep an eye on this one, hopefully the club can ‘convince’ him to stay.

And that’s about that for today. A proper preview, with team predictions etc, tomorrow. Until then have a good one, the excitement is building.

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