Ok, because if you have, you’ll know exactly how I feel right now.
Let me explain… Losing tonight is a lot like getting caught cheating on your partner… At the time, the affair is great… it’s dangerous, exciting and the rewards are fantastic… but there comes a point when you get busted… you lose everything and suddenly you think… shit… was it all worth it?
That is how I feel this morning… my love affair with the youth team has been exposed… and I’m a bit embarrassed.
We’re out of a cup that our first team could have won, and I don’t like it. Ok, I love watching the youngsters break through, and I love watching our youth system demolish horrible teams like Sheffield United and Wigan… but if I am being honest… I probably only love it because of the bragging rights.
I loved watching the kids, it brought me great joy to watch little people run around a pitch and make fools of old men… but now we are only in 3 competitions and at least two of those are unrealistic targets. I know it would have been unfair to take this opportunity away from the boys, but the situation isn’t the same as it was 5 years ago. Most of our senior players don’t have a trophy on their CV yet. Shouldn’t we be thinking about getting the first team winning something before we think of the kids?
The whole of the above reeks of hypocrisy on my part, I know that… I enjoyed the winning while it lasted, there is not doubt. That doesn’t stop me feeling bad today… another trophy we were more than capable of winning, down the toilet for another year.
As far as the game went, there were plenty of positives. We created about 6 gilt edge chances, we didn’t get out muscled and the game meant a lot to the young pretenders. However, I felt that the kids were exposed tonight… a highly organised team with bags of battling experience buried us by being more clinical in front of goal and having a keeper who was absolutely on fire.
Burnley played football today, at times I was rather impressed. Chris Eagles caused alsorts of problems for our defence tonight and he looked quite a decent prospect.
The first half was all us really. We went one down after about 6 minutes after a horrendous mix up between Rodgers and Fabianski. Burnley were played onside down the right wing, their player fizzed the ball into the box and Fabianski came out for it, missed it and Burnley finished. It was a poor bit of keeping/communication and put the defence on edge…
After the restart, we seemed to open Burnley up with ease. I think we created at least 4 one on ones in the first half, but Nik and Vela wasted all of them. We pinged the ball about beautifully at times, but I felt tonight we should have reverted back to KISS.
KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.
I know it’s an old school thing to say, but I think if the boys were a little more mature they would have calmed down with the tricks and flicks. Arsenal were over elaborate at times and after a few of the flair touches failed to come off… confidence started to drop.
The second half saw Lansbury introduced, but to little effect. Our tempo diminished and the exciting flair football of the first half died a death. We looked lost for ideas. Merida came close after crafting a shot out of nothing… bar that, it was pretty laboured.
We ended up going two down after Eagles threaded a low throw into our box, Randall failed to clear allowing McDonald to poke the ball into the back of the net.
Bar another simple miss from Nik, the game fizzled out along with our Carling Cup dreams.
Fabianski: Well… return of the mad keeper eh? He is either superb or terrible… there is simply no inbetween with this guy at the moment. If there was a cure for his erratic play it woudl surely be somesort of animal sedative. He seems on edge all the time and that forces mistakes. He needs to slow everything down and take a deep breath. A calm keeper breads confidence. I am hoping this will come with age. After tonights performance I wouldn’t feel comfortable dropping Almunia. 6
Gibbs: Not really a stand out game for the young left back. He did a tidy job. 6
Hoyte: Could be a solid defender. He has more composure than his older brother and his still young. 6
Silvestre: Considering he was one of the most experienced player on the pitch, I thought he was very erratic tonight. You look to you big players in games like this and he really didn’t stand out. 5
Rodgers: Now I am sure I read he was rejected after a trial at Watford. If that is the case, tonight was purely a shop window exercise… and that is pretty poor on the coaches part. I thought this competition was about seeing if players were ready for the big time? Not ebay for Arsenal. He dropped a bit of a clanger after failing to deal with a high ball and he didn’t look very comfortable in the middle of defence. I wasn’t impressed. 6
Wilshere: Played a few neat little passes tonight, but he was largely anonymous for the most part. I guess tonight showed why Wenger will be using him sparingly this season. Great talent, not his night. 6
Randall: I quite enjoyed watching him tonight. Again, he played a few great balls into the strikers and he looked pretty tough for a little guy… He was at fault for Burnley’s second. Pure naivety. 6.5
Merida: We saw a bit more of what Merida is about tonight. He showed some great skill and vision… popping up with a great cameo run that was cruelly close to going in. He could be a tidy little player for us if he can keep progressing. 7
Rambo: Not the usual swash buckling all action performance we are used to. I think he struggle with the physicality at times and he didn’t really get his teeth into the game. Again, a great talent, but he needs to be nurtured in the right way if we are going to see the best of him. 7
Vela: Missed two sitters by his standards and on another day, he would have buried them. All part and parcel of learning your trade. His pace is always a threat and his uncanny knack for picking out players in great positions is encouraging. 7.5
Nik B: The most guilty of all for profligacy in front of goal. He missed 3 really bread an butter chances… and I would say on another night he would have scored them, but I am yet to see that other night. His laid back attitude can be irksome at times. I find myself shouting at the T.V when he doesn’t run back after messing something up and I am sure that Wenger was shouting at him for doing something similar last night. Sometimes I think he looks like he believes he has already made it… perhaps he thought he didn’t need to be there, perhaps he was offended by his inclusion? Whatever his problem is… it is annoying. He needs to buck his ideas up if he wants a long term future at this club, and he needs to do it fast because Jay Simpson looks a lot more hungry. 6
Another missed opportunity for silverware… but I guess this is a necessary cog in the well oiled superstar making machine that is Arsenal FC, post invincible’s.
We have to pray that Wenger isn’t planning on throwing the FA Cup. I really would like us to put our name to something this year… and it is upsetting that my Spud mates have been to Wembley with their club more times that I have!
I know there is a lot of talent in our ranks, but I can’t help thinking that it is all a bit pointless if you never wrap any experience around it… and when I say experience, I don’t mean home grown experience… I mean proven winner type experience.
How good would Cesc look next to a real battler? How good could Rambo have looked last night next to someone a bit older? Arsenal seem to shoot themselves in the foot at both levels. Some of the first team could have helped out tonight… not 8 of them, but Denilson and JD would have made a difference. It’s the same with the first team, we’re not asking for major surgery… just a bit of tinkering to get the best out of what we already have.
So… today we will mostly be discussing who will make it and who will not… let the debating begin!
P.S. Loads of tickets in Le Exchange for upcoming games!