Saturday, February 26, 2011

Arsenal - first day of the rest of the season for the Gunners

Well for a while I had a dream that some how Wigan would find  way to at least draw with the Red Devils....and then reality and a 4-0 thrashing set in. The Red Devils get back to a 4 point cushion atop the Premiership, which makes the game tomorrow that much more important for the Gunners. Why? It is a Cup final and has no bearing on the EPL title chase. But for the young Gunners it will mean everything. They have not tasted success since Patrick Vieira was wearing the #4 shirt - 2005 FA Cup victory over Manchester United (ironically the last PK was taken and scored by that very Pat Vieira, his last action under the Arsenal colors). Ever since that game in May of 2005, Arsenal have been chasing silverware, and unfortunately have not been successful at that chase. They have not really threatened to take the EPL title from Manchester United and Chelsea. They did reach a Champions League final the year after the FA Cup triumph, but fell short versus Barcelona. They also made the finals of this same Cup in 2007, but lost to rival Chelsea and witnessed any ugly bust up.

Now Arsenal find themselves in another Cup final, with a chance to finally add to their trophy case. They are facing a side they dominated earlier this season in league play winning 3-0. However Arsenal will be without captain Cesc and winger Walcott...meaning you will need to lean on Nasri for your midfield creativity and hope that Rosicky and Arshavin can find some glimmers of consistency. Birmingham will pose Arsenal some potential issues with their length and experience up front in the likes of Zigic and Martins.

Clearly Arsenal have enough to win this game and some silverware, but much will come down to the mentality of the Gunners. Will they think they can just waltz in and repeat their early thrashing of Birmingham? Feel overconfident after a mid week grinding success against Stoke as well as come from behind win versus Barcelona in the Champions League. They better not. The importance of this game cannot be overstated.

If Arsenal want to mount a serious challenge in the 2 competitions that REALLY count - Champions League and EPL - they must find a way to beat a team they should defeat and secure a trophy. The psychological effect of a win will carry the Gunners for the rest of the season. A loss could threaten to derail Arsenal, make them question their ability to close the big games. The Gunners beat Chelsea earlier this season 3-1, they defeated they must defeat Birmingham and bring home some silverware. This is the first day of the rest of the season for the Gunners, let us hope it is a good day.

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