My Bittersweet FA Cup Final Day

As Arsenal embark on looking to break the 9 year trophy hoodoo and as Arsene looks to bring in the first major trophy since moving to The Emirates, today is a bittersweet day for me.

We all know how massive today is, and while Arsenal are major favourites we still have the shock that was Wigan beating Manchester City to win last seasons FA Cup fresh in our minds.

Make no doubt about it, Arsenal will need to be on top of their game to bring home the cup tonight.

But while usually I’d be checking all the latest news and build up and obviously watching the match itself, I have to go to a wedding today…

Which means missing the whole thing entirely!

I’m not looking for sympathy, but being an Arsenal fan for over 27 years now I realise that today is a significant day in Arsenal’s history, a day much bigger than potentially winning a major trophy. If Arsenal can overcome Hull City, then it would represent something of a new era. After 8 seasons without a trophy, today could be the catalyst for bigger and greater things.

Of course, if Hull City pull off a shock then it could still be a significant day in our history, but for different reasons.

Obviously I’m clutching at straws here, but if you’re watching the game and fancy updating me on the latest scores and incidents during the match, then you can tweet me here:

Arsenal 4 Life Twitter

Bet this is the first time an Arsenal blog has asked for match updates isn’t it!

Anyway, I hope every Arsenal fan who is watching the game has a fantastic day and we all get what we want from the final.

All the best and COYG!

5 Reasons Why Wigan Will Beat Arsenal 2-1 In The FA Cup Semi Final

For Wigan to win today against Arsenal you can get around 20/1, and for me they are killer odds worth taking advantage of. You can even get Wigan to win 1-0 at 19/1 – so the bookies think there’s no chance of that happening but we know that with Arsenal, anything is possible.

I will tell you exactly why Wigan will win 2-1 today and give us the 9th season in a row without silverware.

1. We Bottle It Under Pressure In Spectacular Fashion

Every single big test we’ve had away from home this season we have failed spectacularly. Against Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea we had season-defining games to prove we were genuine title contenders. What happened? We collapsed in sensational fashion.

Against Everton, it was our chance to prove that we were good enough to be in the Top Four. What happened? We got thrashed and were lucky to walk away with a 3-0 defeat.

Today represents another massive test in our season, and whenever we’ve had one we’ve failed.

2. The Players Have Stopped Playing For The Manager

We see training photographs before every “big” game of the players laughing, joking and generally being relaxed. That’s what Arsenal Football Club is now – a big joke.

The players have stopped playing for Arsene Wenger, that much is evident over the last 2 months. You can moan all you like about injuries but this is Arsenal. Our players are good enough to beat anyone on our day, but we haven’t because we haven’t turned up in important games. How on earth can you explain limp performances against Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton? Those are exactly the game footballers get out of bed in the morning to fight in and show the world how good they are. Instead, they stroll around as if they don’t give a shit.

And it’s all because the players don’t care anymore.

3. We Have Olivier Giroud

You all know how I feel about Olivier Giroud. He’s one of the worst Arsenal strikers ever to play for the club. One dimensional, limited and generally ineffective, the Frenchman is not a striker you can win any major honours with. If he put as much effort into missing chances and posing when he doesn’t score into actually getting a shot on target he’d be a decent player.

4. Arsene’s Tactical Knowledge Is Dated And Limited

There’s one thing being outplayed in the first 15 minutes of the football match (City, Liverpool, Chelsea & Everton) but it shows tactical ineptitude not to actually address those glaring problems. Any decent manager that was seeing his team get overrun, outplayed and generally playing poorly would step up and make some changes to at least stem the flow.

But Arsene? He’d rather “let his team play” and “express themselves”. The problem is, if Wigan go 1-0 up what will Arsene do? He’ll wait until Wigan go 2-0 before making any changes.

5. Wigan Are A Very Good Team

The bottom line is Wigan turn up for the big games, and today have nothing to lose. As it stands in the last 2 seasons they have won the FA Cup and reached the semi-final – the best record anyone has over the last 2 years. And today, they are relishing the underdog status.

They have the belief, the knowhow and the ability to pull off a game plan. They’ve beaten Manchester City twice in the FA Cup and know how to beat the big teams – and our record at the JJB Stadium wasn’t the best when they were in the Premier League.

So do yourself a favour, put a few quid on Wigan to win 2-1 and at least make a bit of money.

Why Everton Will Demolish Arsenal Based On This Season Alone

So here we are, another massive game for Arsenal.

As it stands, Arsenal are in 4th position in the Premier League after having played 32 games with 64 points. Everton sit in 5th after 31 games, and have 60 points.

So the situation is clear.

If Arsenal win, they are well on the way to finishing in a Champions League spot come the end of the season. A draw gives us a theoretical 1 point buffer over Everton (if they win their game in hand) and a defeat… Well that’s not worth thinking about.

The problem is that we’ve been in this exact same situation 3 times before this season and every time, spectacularly failed.

Regular readers will know that I have repeatedly made the same old point over and over again. When Arsenal are ahead of a team in the league, and only need a point to keep a nice distance between them, they collapse is unbelievable fashion.

Against Manchester City, we were several points clear and should have kept it tight and played for a draw. What happened? We played an extremely naive and open game and lost 6-3.

Against Manchester United, we were well ahead of them but somehow managed to lose against the worst Manchester United side in the last 20 years. And a Manchester United side with the worst home record over the last 2 decades.

Against Liverpool, we were 7 points ahead of them and what happened? We lost 5-1. Before Anfield we were 7 points ahead and now we are 8 points behind. That is a massive 15 point swing in the matter of less than two months.

And then we have Chelsea. You would think Arsene would have learned his lesson but no. Once again we play a ridiculous system and end up losing 6-0. In a game where a draw would have kept us in the race, we spectacularly lose.

So why is there any hope against Everton?

Every time we’ve faced a top opponent, and every time that has been away, we’ve lost the plot. We’ve collapsed, we’ve capitulated, call it whatever you want. For whatever reason, we haven’t turned up and had a hiding.

Is it because Arsene Wenger has lost the dressing room? Is it because we need Ramsey and Walcott?

Whatever the reason is, Arsene needs to sort it out because once again we face a top Premier League side in their own back yard. And in the 4 times that’s happened already this season, we’ve completely collapsed and given that side a massive boost in the process.

Predictions For The Manchester City Game? Will Arsenal Lose 4-0, 5-0 or 6-0?

Arsenal go into today’s game on the back of a disappointing draw at home against Swansea, and a disastrous defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The level of opposition doesn’t let up as Manchester City come to town. The blue side of Manchester completely outplayed Manchester United (something we failed to do at two attempts), beating them 3-0 at Old Trafford.

So it’s going to be a big ask today.

If we can’t keep a clean sheet against Swansea, then what hope do you have against Edin Dzeko who is on form, Yaya Toure who is a beast and David Silva and Samir Nasri, who are pulling the strings.

If Manchester City turn up, then it could be another embarrassment.

The small consolation is that it is away from home Arsenal have been a shambles. At home, we’ve drawn against Chelsea, Manchester United but also managed to beat Tottenham and Liverpool.

So all hope is not lost.

But Arsenal are well out of the title race while Manchester City are in a fantastic position to win the league.

If Arsenal do manage to win, then they still have a slight chance to making a late charge for the title. It’s a small chance but it would still be possible to nick it if the other teams slip up – but it would take a near impeccable rest of the season, which on recent weeks looks hugely unlikely.

So predictions for the score this afternoon?

My heart says 1-1, but my head says 4-1 to Manchester City.

Why Arsenal Can Beat Bayern And Progress Tonight

So tonight is the big one. After losing 2-0 at home against the reigning European Champions, we face a the though prospect of going to the Allianz Arena needing to score at least 2 goals to stay in the tie.

Impossible? No, but there’s no doubt the odds are heavily stacked against us.

We won 2-0 there last season and Bayern went on to progress on the away goals rule. We scored an early goal, they missed a few chances and things got nervy at the end when Koscielny scored with 5 minutes to go. We couldn’t nick that vital third goal but we showed that we’re no pushovers in Europe.

In our last 5 visits to Germany, we’ve won 3 games and drawn 2 which is an excellent record. It shows how resilient we can be and that when it matters, we can get a result.

I would be much more confident if we had our first choice back four, but Gibbs is injured. A defensive line of Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker and Gibbs is one of the best in Europe in my opinion. The four of them defend so well as unit and regular readers will know that I don’t rate Monreal, since he featured in the heavy defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool. And for me, he was also one of the major reasons we conceded the two goals against Bayern in the first leg.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Monreal is also injured meaning that our options are to put Thomas Vermaelen at left back, or to move Sagna to that position and play Carl Jenkinson at right back. Vermaelen has only just come back from injury so could be a risk and people forget that Jenkinson played in the Bayern game last season. What will Arsene do? I suspect he will play Vermaelen even though I think it’s a risk.

Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are certain to anchor the midfield with a bit of fight and organisation and further up the field Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud are nailed on to start. So the last midfield position is between Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and I have a feeling he might start with the Czech. He’s played in Germany before and sets the tempo in the big games, as well as being able to track back and throw his weight around in midfield.

Obviously, tonight hinges on the first goal. Like at Dortmund, we had to withstand a lot of pressure before nicking a goal at the other end. If we can keep a clean sheet anything is possible but like tonight, if Dortmund scored first you just know that would have opened the floodgates.

If we can keep it tight, then Bayern will feel the pressure and we can slowly edge our way into the game. But if they score early then our heads will drop and it will be one long, tough evening indeed.

In a way, if Bayern did score it wouln’t make a huge different in terms of an aggregate score as 3 goals would see us through. But obviously that is something we need to avoid.

They say you need some luck on nights like these and tonight is no different. If the Gods of fate are playing fairly then we are definitely due some luck in the Champions League. One top of the harsh decision to send of Szczesny in the first leg, we also had a petty sending off at Barcelona (Robin van Persie) and another in the Champions League Final (Jens Lehmann) so we’re due some good luck.

Perhaps Bayern will have their goalkeeper sent off and some of their defenders will score a couple of unfortunate own goals. But maybe that’s asking a little too much.

As long as Arsenal put in a determined, focused performance and give it everything they have, then that’s all you can ask for. And if we do manage to surprise everyone and progress, then that’s a bonus.

You can say many things about Arsene Wenger but one thing I will say is that no matter which team we face, I believe that Arsenal can always win. I have never gone to watch Arsenal thinking they had no chance of winning that game. Because of the style of play Arsene adopts, I always think we can score goals.

So tonight we’re going to need a bit of faith and a bit of luck.

#COYG