It isn’t only the Carling Cup, it isn’t only Birmingham. It is a cup final, our first since 2007 and a chance for a first trophy since 2005. The FA Cup victory seems a long, long time ago.
This is the first final preview type blog I have ever done since starting and the magnitude of this game is something I can’t stress enough. A few days ago the talk was all about beating Barcelona and how it was a humongous result for this team, however, a win tomorrow would put even that performance in the shade.
We have waited so long for this chance that we can’t afford to waste it, cup finals don’t grow on trees and in our last two we have came up against two fantastic teams in Barcelona and Chelsea – this time with all due respect to Birmingham, we are by far the favourites and it would be an upset of gargantuan proportions if the worst happens. It could quite possibly derail what could be a very special season indeed.
That is why this game is Arsene’s biggest.
The Champions League Final is not even close, to win that it would have been an exceptional achievement but we had had success not all that long before, and were possibly still riding on the coat-tails of the invincible. Arsene has never had to teach a team to win before, and if Arsenal win tomorrow he can claim he has done that; developing, nurturing, and most importantly, winning.
When Arsenal won the league and FA Cup in 1998 it was his, and Arsenal’s arrival, that was being shouted from the roof tops. Those two games were still not his biggest though, it wasn’t a young team who had had limited success as this one had. They were also two games where the captain, a winner, was present. Here, Cesc Fabregas – a World Cup and European Cup winner- won’t be.
Players will have to step up again, the days leader Robin van Persie, the magical Samir Nasri and – despite what people say – the world class Andrey Arshavin will be called upon to kick this season into life.
As we have so often seen in this part of the season, we start to flag a little bit, things go against the team and there is no lift. Tomorrow we can do just that, Wenger can cross another trophy off his checklist and it will be one almighty boot up the backside for this team. They will then know they can win things, proper things. We are not just talking the Emirates Cup here.
There are so many contributory stories to this. Eduardo had his leg broken against Birmingham and unsurprisingly the ‘do it for Eduardo’ campaign has been given another airing. I loved Eduardo the lack of a recovery to his peak at Arsenal was sad. My point here is that the final is not about Cesc, Wenger or Eduardo – it is for Arsenal. Wenger can make it a great day, Cesc could have helped make it a great day – Eduardo provides the tragedy in the tale – sadly. It is for Arsenal first, Wenger second, Cesc and the players third – then for the justice, like Eduardo.
There have been a fair few nervous twitches since the win over Stoke and I am not talking about Cesc’s hamstring – Arsenal are being bigged up to end their drought in a way that this squad probably hasn’t really had to face at all. It is one pressure starting a season having not won anything for a long time, it is another pressure entirely to deal with it over a 90 minute game. There will be nerves but hopefully they won’t lead to mistakes, that would be the most painful thing of all, our defence creaking when it has looked solid for months.
The nerves are already jangling, this is the cup final feeling and it has been away for far too long.
Now to bring that winning feeling with it.
Damn, still 24 hours to go. Onto the next one…