Sunday, 27 February 2011

This team is in great form. Late Stoke report and Cup Final preview



Arsenal 1 Stoke 0

This was a good test a few days before we played Birmingham - we got to face some scummy players (good preparation for Bowyer) and we dealt with Stoke's massive aerial presence (good preparation for Zigic).

It was a game we needed to win, and I thought we did enough. Frankly, I'm unconvinced it was Cesc going off injured which changed the complexion of the game. It was more that Stoke were an absolute shambles in the first ten minutes, getting over-run in midfield and with some abysmal positioning from their defenders. They managed to sort it out but by then they were already behind - but for the inside of the post, Squillaci's goal should have made it 2-0, although I was surprised Theo hit the post - it was pretty easy to score.

For those who like schadenfreude, it was pleasing that it was Shawcross who didn't manage to clear Wilshere's corner; Bendtner player it back across and Seb headed in - it was, if you like, a Stoke-style goal from Arsenal. And that basically mirrored the match, it was scrappy, with few chances, but we won the game.

That's the crucial point - you can't murder every team like we did to Wigan a few weeks ago. But since the turn of the year our form is incredibly impressive: two unfortunate draws to Man City and Newcastle, a couple of dodgy cup results which we've turned around in second legs/replays, and apart from that, winning every game.

And that's why today's Carling Cup Final is so important. Not, because I'm that bothered about winning a trophy - but because it's important to keep the momentum up. Win today, and kick on, and it could be a really special season. Lose, a couple of poor League results, defeats in the Nou Camp and (potentially) at Old Trafford, and it could be another disappointing season. It probably isn't as black and white as that, but after a trophy drought of six years, it would be quite nice to win something.

Now, what did she wear?

COME ON YOU ARSENAL!

Keep the faith.

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