My head is a little achey this morning, I have to admit. I’ve been self-medicating a bit this week with Kentucky’s finest, and I think it’s catching up with me.
Mrs Blogs used the word ‘jittery’ to describe me yesterday, which I think is fairly spot on. And the team news from yesterday, when the manager had his press conference, didn’t help much. Although Aaron Ramsey is back and will start, there are doubts over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin), Kieran Gibbs (ankle) and Tomas Rosicky (thigh). All of them face late fitness tests, but even if they make it’s hard to think of any them will be 100%.
Could Kim Kallstrom be the surprise hero? And by hero I mean bloke who gets to play in a game of football at a time when the squad is stretched to its absolute limit. It could happen. A midfield triumvirate of Arteta, Kallstrom and Ramsey – some experience, a bit more experience and a big dollop of awesome sauce on top.
I am, however, determined to try and keep as positive as possible between now and tomorrow. I think we’ve done enough introspection and naval gazing since last Sunday, and the simple fact is we’re one game away from the FA Cup final. It’s something we should be excited about it.
And I mean, I am excited. It’s just that if I was playing Top Trumps with myself and I got ‘Excitement: 97’ my next card would be ‘Terror: 100000000000039’. Am I wrong? Should I be more confident? I feel like I should, but when I try it feels a bit unnatural – like trying to brush your teeth with your wrong hand.
I’m all ‘It’s Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final, let’s do this. Yeaaah.’
And the little voice is all, ‘Birmgham in the Carling Cup.’
And I’m all, ‘Shut up that was ages ago and we’re more mature now, they said so.’
And the little voice waits and goes ‘Bradford’ and sniggers into its hand (if voices had hands).
And then I’m all, ‘You shut up shut up shut up we can do this I know we can. We’ve beaten Bayern Munich recently. So there.’
Then the little voice is nowhere and I think I’ve won and as I’m going off to think about something else it does a Cartman with a megaphone (NSFW!) and blasts ‘BLACKBURN’ in my ears.
Goddamit. There’s just so much riding on this game. Maybe I’m using this as a means of catharsis. Getting my fears out in the open so they become more manageable. A problem shared, and all that. I can’t be alone, can I?
Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, has extolled the virtues of a competition he has won four times during his Arsenal tenure. He said:
Everyone can dream of winning it at the start of the season. It is a dream open to everybody and that is the beauty of the FA Cup. Last year Wigan won it, this year you have Sheffield United in the semi-final and that kind of dream open to everybody makes the competition special. In the league you can talk and talk but we know the biggest budget will win it. That open dream is what makes this competition special in football.
Leaving aside the rather pointed remark about the biggest budget winning the league, I do love the FA Cup. There have been times when, in the pursuit of more lofty prizes, we’ve paid lip service to this competition and that has been painful. That Old Trafford game … ugh.
But this season its importance goes beyond words really. It’s a tangible trophy, something to actually lift rather than to boost the bank balance. It would get this monkey off our backs after so long. And in terms of back monkeys, this one is an absolute twat. Just when you think you’re about to get rid of him, he digs his paws in even harder then lets loose a torrent of monkey piss down your spine.
Stupid monkey. I think I might have made a similar analogy on this today’s Arsecast, which is probably an indication of how much pressure we’re feeling right now. It must be prevalent on the training ground, amongst the players too, and we’ve got to hope they don’t find it crippling. The only thing the manager can really change about the team ahead of tomorrow’s game is the mindset.
There are few options in terms of the team and what he can fiddle with there, so he’s got to get them up from the low of Everton – and the few games before that – and get them believing that they can get the job done. Personally, I’d threaten them all with a week tied to a chair listening to Phil Collins and eating bacon that had that rainbow sheen on it if they don’t win the game, but I suspect my motivational techniques may differ from Arsene’s.
Anyway, I feel as if I’m adding to my jitters, so I think we might as well just get on with the Arsecast. I’m joined to talk Arsenal, Cazorla and all that by James Dall from ESPN, while to get a Wigan perspective on tomorrow’s encounter, I’m joined by Dan from Jesus Was a Wiganer to talk winning the cup, new managers, Uwe Rosler and more.
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That’s me. Have a good Friday. FA Cup semi-final preview tomorrow. News throughout the day on Arseblog News. Bourbon to be find in hip flask always close at hand.
Mmmm, breakfast bourbon.