Is it me, or has somebody put the brakes on this week? Feels like it. Probably because my working week has consisted of getting up (early), going to work, going for a run, coming home, eating dinner, packing up boxes (house move) and then going to bed. Rinse, lather and repeat…
I really hope this Saturday is worth it and I see players in red and white holding aloft the big silver thing with big ears. That would be nice.
As for the Arsenal world, what with it being a special game n’ all, Arsene had a special news conference a day earlier than most of his usual pressers he tends to do. It wasn’t just the hacks that we’re present at London Colney, but Arsenal bloggers too, of which I might have been there had work meetings not prohibited me from picking up my phone. Never have I felt at the beckon call of my desk jockey role than yesterday, I can assure you. However, such is life and we must move on, hopefully moving on quickly so Saturday arrives.
By all accounts the team news is positive. Despite appearing to limp at the Norwich game, Sagna is available for selection and despite the obvious questions as to whether he deserved a start given his impending departure, Arsene was fairly unequivocal in his response and confirmed that he has no problems with starting a player who will be wearing another teams colours next year. It’s that kind of belief in players, as well as his staunch defence of them in relation to what happens on the pitch, that is why you rarely (Lassana Diarra aside, but he was a bit of a tit anyway with his bulging beluga forehead) see players have a bad word to say about him – even after they leave a club. You can question their loyalty to The Arsenal, but I don’t think you can question that they don’t all hold an affection for Arsene.
I suspect Bac will play, but Fabianski is a whole other ball-related sport, as Arsene expectedly neither confirmed nor denied whether he would be starting. More on a team line up in the match preview on Saturday, but suffice to say I think we’ll see our strongest team out against Hull, which may mean now space for Lukasj.
There were the usual stupid questions about both players contracts and Arsene’s contract himself, to which he obviously didn’t answer, but there was also an understandable interest in the fitness of Jack and The Ox. The latter is a late fitness test away from being available and as much as I’m sure he’d try to move heaven and earth to be part of this cup final on Saturday, there’s no point risking a player who has already spent half the season out with a serious knee injury. Apparently Arsenal we’re extra cautious with Jack’s injury problem, so one would hope that a precedent has been set there, with The Ox only coming back if he is 100% able-bodied.
Le Boss was asked about the fact that nine years without a trophy (has it really been that long? Why haven’t the media informed us of this up until this point?) and whether or not this would play on the minds of the players at all in the run up. Whilst I raised an eyebrow when he admitted it might add some more pressure (put your Wenger Bingo cards away – he never mentioned ‘mental strength’ once) on the team, he did move to reassure the more apprehensive of us (I’ll raise my hand in full acknowledgement of that) that when the players get on to the pitch it will be different. A sentiment echoed by Ramsey the day before and hopefully something we get to see come 5pm early Saturday evening.
He is right though. Appearing in a big stadium at a big game is not something that should, in theory, phase these Arsenal players. They do it on a regular basis both domestically and across Europe; I guess the difference a quite heavy silver trophy perched on the edge of the pitch can make is quite substantial though.
Will Arsenal take Hull lightly and think they have this competition won though? I don’t think so. The team and manager are making all the right noises about respecting the opponents, but I guess the only real way to tell that will be the performance in roughly 56 hours from when I write this piece, so we’ll probably know an hour or two after that. It’s no secret that Arsene won’t set up his team to counter Hull’s strengths, but that’s not a lack of respect, it’s the hallmark of a manager who has never really ‘done’ tactics.
Hull are certainly milking the ‘underdogs’ card to carry favour with the neutrals and the rest of the UK, but we knew that would happen, so let’s just hope there isn’t upsets two years running. This rubbish I’ve seen from David Meyler about us already thinking we’ve won it because signs have appeared in London mentioning a potential victory parade is another attempt to eke a bit more public support. The ‘Big Bad Red and White Wolf’ thinks the job is already done, or so he’d have the world believe, but the reality is that unbeknownst to Mr Meyler (who should not even be allowed to play at Wembley after his stamp on a United player over a week ago) London is quite big and to get the right permissions for a special event where roads are closed, you kind of need a bit more than 24 hours to ensure you have the right crowd safety and policing requirements in place.
But let’s let them milk their underdog status. As long as we’re FA Cup winners come Sunday morning, I’ll not be too precious, maybe…
Anyway, that will do from me today, I have another day of work getting in the way of an FA Cup countdown so I’ll say my farewells and catch you on the flip side. Or something like that.