Saturday, 29 January 2011

One game from glory. Ipswich match report and thoughts

Arsenal 3 Ipswich 0

We really needed this result. Not so much in terms of a chance winning the Carling Cup - I'm not sure the trophy will mean that much to many of the players - but that we didn't lose to Ipswich. I'd like to see us win the Carling Cup but I'd love to see us win a more major trophy.

Defeat against Ipswich would have been humiliating. It also would have meant our fourth semi-final defeat in a row, and when this team is accused of being soft both literally and metaphorically - already, a defeat could have had a disastrous effect on our season.

I think Arsene noted that in his team selection. For much of our cup run this season, I haven't really bought the notion that Arsene is picking a decidely stronger team than a few years ago. It's just that a few years ago we had a very young team all round. The players who came in for the Carling Cup were youngsters because almost the whole team were youngsters. I think the main difference now is we have squad depth, so players like Denilson and Gibbs can come in, and yet they're already top players. I wonder slightly about how this will affect the development of our youngsters, but judging by how Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny are doing, the answer is not too much.

Regardless of that aside, against Ipswich, Wenger had clearly decided he wanted to win a trophy. Picking Cesc from the start in both matches was a sign of that. And though the performance in the first leg was woeful, I don't 'buy' the idea that our first half performance was disappointing on Wednesday. The problem is, a lot of fans just expect lower-division teams to turn up and roll over - and they're shocked when they display more competence than Wigan, for example.

We passed the ball well in the first half but things just didn't quite click for us. The derision Bendtner was attracting from a gentleman to my left was really quite baffling. I later could only chuckle when Bendtner scored an excellent goal which displayed impressive technique to open the scoring.

We then bore witness to that rarest of things - an Arsenal goal from a corner, when Laurent Koscielny headed home. He had an all-round tidy evening and scoring the goal which sent us to Wembley pleased me. Certain fans were keen to get on his back earlier in the season but right now he looks like an astute buy.

For all people say how the squad don't speak the same language, there's clearly enormous camaraderie there - shown by how much the subs, as well as the team, celebrated Kozzer's goal. It's also worth pointing out that it came from Andrey Arshavin pressing on the opposition by-line to win a corner. With his assist for Cesc's goal after an excellent jinking run, two assists is a solid return - and hopefuly the sign of the start of a welcome return to form. Cesc's goal meant we were definitely going to Wembley and I enjoyed signing as much.

On a personal level, the big question now is how to get a ticket, and if anyone can help I'd be most grateful. [Gratuitous plug ends]

It will be interesting to see how we kick on from this. The fixture list is kind to us at the moment and we seem to be taking advantage. But we need to keep on doing this. Continuing tomorrow, ridiculously early, against Huddersfield.

Keep the faith.

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