I don’t really know where to go with a post like this…
That Cup was probably the most bread and butter final we’ve had since we defeated Southampton a few years ago at Cardiff. We flopped on the big stage and we did in embarrassing fashion. It wasn’t about effort or any of the obvious things people keep pointing to, it was just purely down to two shambolic pieces of defending.
Nicola Zigic is a very limited player, he’s an oaf who if a foot shorter would certainly not be gracing the Premiership. The only way he was going to impact the result yesterday was if he was allowed to cause problems from set plays. Well his chance came shortly after Sagna gave the ball away to Birmingham who won a corner. The set play into the box was calamitous and amazing considering how many were involved. Koscielny lost Johnson who flicked the ball on. JD somehow mananged to lose the tallest man on the pitch who nodded past the flapping Chezzer.
All Arsenal’s progress defensively came spiralling undone when it counted.
Arsenal responded with a roaming Jack Wilshere run that ended up with him hitting the bar. Moments later he set the ball rolling for Arshavin who cut the ball back to Robin. The Dutchman was on hand to volley into the far corner. The Arsenal end erupted with noise. Could we be on our way to our first final win of the last 5 years?
Sadly it wasn’t to be. The second half never really kicked off. We stuttered with our play never truly breaking into full flow. Samir Nasri caused the most problems, in particular with a long ranger than was dealt with in apparent world-class style by Ben Foster.
Birmingham were creating as well. Fahey hitting the post. The big worry came for me with our substitutions. We took off Robin Van Persie and brought on Nik B, which really didn’t work. Then we withdrew Andrey Arshavin for Chamakh, which also didn’t work. The two players who were most likely to do some damage were taken off and replaced with two players who probably drew a cheer from the Birmingham end.
I was staggered that Rosicky wasn’t removed, he’d been absolutely awful all afternoon. What purpose does he serve the team these days?
Anyway, the writing was on the wall, Obafembi Martins of back flip notoriety came on and you sensed something could go off. His agent has been trying to get him a move to us for the last 15 years, this was revenge time. A ball looped into the box, Koscielny went to clear it, Chesney came out to catch it, the Frenchman missed, Chesney froze and the ball hit him, bounced to the Nigerian who was there to slot home the simplest of winners.
What a joke.
Everyone in the ground looked on open jawed. Pig sick. We knew it was over. There was no one left on the pitch who could save us.
The final whistle blew and we’d been beaten in the easiest cup final you’ll ever likely to see an Arsenal team involved in.
What are the ramifications of this now?
From a defensive perspective what we saw from Chesney was a touch worrying. He clattered Bowyer early on in a Lehmann-esque rush of blood moment, he dithered for the first goal and it looked like poor communication for the eventual winner. The fact is, we called for his inclusion in the team so we’ll have to live with the mistakes he’ll inevitably make as he grows up in the hard and fast world of top class football. I’d suggest he is a bit more humble in his interviews going forward, I feel he’s putting unnecessary pressure on his shoulders with some of the things he says online. He did make some smart saves yesterday, but mistakes like those in the big games will lead to worries about pressure and whether he can handle it.
Oh for a bit of top quality experience between the sticks eh?
Kozzer has been doing very well of late, the mistake he made was pretty poor considering he wasn’t under any pressure. He’s great on the floor, not so good in the air and he does always seem to have a Senderos moment in him. Yesterday showed that he has a long way to go if he’s ever going to live up to the premature Paulo Maldini reputation he’s gained from many Arsenal fans over the past month. Tommy Vermaelen can’t come back quick enough, can he?
Games like yesterday weren’t lost on attacking impotence, they were lost because we couldn’t keep a clean sheet. I’d have liked another aerial specialist in the defence. Someone like Samba or Wheater would have done nicely because we really struggle against the aerial bully boys, even with JD in the side. Still, no signing in the January window would have saved yesterdays game.
The hardest thing to stomach is that a team so full of attacking verve and spark is completely lost without Cesc Fabregas. No one seems to have that killer directness when he’s not in the side. It really does make you fear what would happen should he leave for pastures new this summer. Sad thing is, performances like that will only embarrass the Spaniard. We need to show Cesc we’re a top side with or without him. Losing to Birmingham is poor however you box it up.
Was Wenger as bold as he could have been yesterday? I didn’t think so. I thought Rosicky in the middle of the park was a poor decision. If you’re selecting on form, the Czech shouldn’t be anywhere near the team. He done virtually nothing in most games he’s played this season and he’s certainly not capable of opening up defences like he used to. I’d have preferred Diaby or Nasri in the middle.
At least with the Diaby you have his height and the 50/50 chance he might have a storming game. I also felt Wenger’s subs lacked killer instinct. He took off the two players capable of turning the game in a second and brought on two cloggers. That for me wasn’t good enough. Ok, he’s protecting his players, but what will the cost of that be long-term now we’ve lost? Will resting Robin for 20 minutes be worth it if the team fails to respond because of the morale sapping Cup Final loss? Only time will tell…
We’ve been here so many times before. 1 bad result has often been enough to destroy our season. Could it happen again? What are these boys made of? Who is there, in that team, that is capable of lifting the spirits? Jack Wilshere has all the swagger of a future captain, but does he have enough experience to pick the boys up on his own? As fans we can wallow in self-pity, we can worry about what is going to happen, but we’ve got to get out there against Orient on Tuesday and support them 100% and hope for a response of epic proportions over the next month.
The feeling outside the ground was not a nice one. I was accused of being a Wenger apologist, so you can imagine how angry people were. These views weren’t expressed by jolly come lately’s, these were views expressed by fans who follow the club all over the country. However well we think we’re doing this season, beneath the surface there is a simmering fear amongst most fans that things are going to go horribly wrong like they have done for the past few years. We’re only ever 4 games from being out of everything, our season is teetering right now.
The boys either man up, stand up and make their attitudes count. Or the curl up and die like a bunch of pathetic over paid wannabe superstars.
It’s as simple as that for me. We have it all to play for now and as fans, we have a duty to back them in the ground. This is either going to be a turning point for the good or a turning point like one of those miserable Greek tragedy things.
I’m numb today… I’m hoping to snap out of this by lunch time. There is nothing as grotty as losing in a Cup Final. I’m mentally hungover. I’m pretty sure the beer hasn’t helped. I’m pretty sure the curry I nailed at midnight didn’t help. Still, we’ll get over this… we’re in as many competitions as United now.
Good luck Gooners… stay strong, keep your phone switched off, Spurs fans are on the loose…