Last few days social media has been inundated with reactions to Wenger’s statement on Mourinho’s ‘fear of failure’ and the response from the Chelsea manager, everything that can be said has been said so we would not dwell on it here even though I feel calling Wenger unsuccessful is a complete farce I couldn’t stop wondering if that statement might play a little on his mind when he is picking his team to face Liverpool in the FA Cup.
Growing up, the FA Cup was one of the first competitions I fell in love with as a young sports writer for the Press Club in my school, I had to write match reports on a few FA Cup finals for the school notice board, glued to a borrowed transistor radio tuned to the BBC the sound of the match commentaries always seemed different on FA Cup final days and it was easy to understand as it just meant one match, one winner and if I was lucky it ended in penalties which made it even more interesting to listen to and write about afterwards.
Supporting Arsenal meant my love for the FA Cup grew as some of the best memories I have of the team where the FA Cup victories Wenger master minded. However, commercialization in football has relegated the competition to a third tier status behind the more financial rewarding Champions league and the Premier League. Teams in a relegation dog fight would rather get 3 points in the EPL than go further in the FA Cup and Wenger is famous for even placing champions league qualification over winning the competition in recent times and every time we crash out we have headlines filled with how he disrespects the competition and the press do well to remind us then of how historical the cup is.
Wenger hasn’t won any competition in almost a decade and considering the level of opposition left in this competition this year I wonder if he would raise it on his priority scale. The Champions League we know is Wenger’s most treasured cup especially as its one he hasn’t laid his hand on and he sees it as some smear in an illustrious career he has had. With Arsenal facing a very well oiled German Machine in Bayern Munich on Wednesday it would be interesting to see which team he fields against Liverpool with an eye on the Munich game. Would he put his personal desires of winning the Champions league over the Clubs lack of any kind of trophy with our best shot now seeming like the FA Cup route?
The whole essence of prioritizing competitions in itself seems enforced on us by two factors. Firstly, Wenger’s hunger to win the champions league and secondly we don’t have the squad depth to compete in all four competitions. While clubs like Man City can afford to field a 24million pounds striker (Jovetic) comfortably in their cup competitions and Chelsea can field almost a whole second team filled with champions league winners against us in the Carling Cup, Arsenal fans have to live with being excited by players like Gideon Zelalam and Serge Gnarby cutting their teeth in the cup competitions.
For a club with Arsenals stature we have been barren for far too long and personally would prefer that Wenger picks the best team possible for the encounter against Liverpool without any consideration for the champion’s league game. The cliché ‘one game at a time’ has never had a better situation for it to be made reference to. Pick the best team to beat Liverpool and on Wednesday we play the best possible team to help us get result on the day. As much as every football game is different they are connected to each other, should we have beaten, drawn or lost respectably at Anfield I certainly believe we would have beaten Man United. It was evident the players were more concerned with not losing that game rather than going all out to win it. Borrowing an analogy from ArseBlog, he stated and rightly that when you fall down heavily, on getting up your first step most likely would be sideways before you start taking forward steps, sincerely that was the best illustration for the performance against Man United.
Momentum is always with the team that is churning out good results and that is what Liverpool has now and the only way to have a result against Bayern is do an excellent job against Liverpool this weekend. That would mean starting Gibbs ahead of Monreal, starting Sagna ahead of Jenkinson, playing Flamini ahead of Arteta (not with Arteta), and giving a start to Podolski and Rosicky even if it means dropping Wilshere and Gnabry on the right as Santi is out of this encounter. That’s the team I would start with as I think it puts all out best players on the pitch. Woijiech also should start ahead of Fabianski even though Fab is our cup keeper. Woj has been outstanding this season and we are going against the best attacking pair in the league doesn’t it make sense for us to go in with our safest pair of gloves? Especially as Fabianksi has stated he is not signing a new contract with the club which means he is going out on a free at the end of the season so we really have no obligation to be extra nice to him. I know it’s a sad opinion but we really need to put ourselves first before the emotional feelings of any player.
Anyways, Wenger knows best and whoever gets on the pitch tomorrow we would have to support. I really feel this competition is our best shot at a trophy as with Chelsea out the only real contenders now are Man City. Beat Liverpool and we are just one game away from Wembley and just getting there would mean a lot to Arsenal fans and would give Arsenal players a sense of what it feels like to win a cup. The champions league is still a long way off and the quality in that competition means realistically we are still far off from being able to win it hence a bird in hand has to have more worth than 100 in the bush.
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Have a great day friends, Cheers!!