Something Great

Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tottenham vs. Arsenal

Carling Cup Semifinal, Second Leg.

A trip to Wembley is a trip to Wembley. That's all I have to say to those who claim the Carling Cup is not worth the concern of a big club. That's nonsense, and as everyone knows, the only time a cup "doesn't matter" is when your club hasn't won it. The opportunity to take the kids to another final is here, but this is going to be the first game of the season when the odds are stacked firmly against the Gunners.

Before their second league meeting, I went against the conventional predictions of a comfortable victory for Arsenal on my other blog. Sure enough, it was a close game that took a brilliant Almunia penalty save and an incredible header from Bendtner on his first touch of the match to win it. (Please note that this is probably the only occasion on which I've predicted a result perfectly, hence the tooting of mine own horn.) Arsenal again kept their unbeaten run against the old foe alive when Theo Walcott scored the luckiest (or unluckiest, depending on your perspective) late equalizer in the first leg.

History is clearly on the side of the Gunners, who won in convincing fashion in this same fixture last year. It's also on their side in that Tottenham have consistently failed to win against Arsenal in this century. That's right. 1999. In a period spanning nine years and 21 matches in all competitions, Spurs have yet to take three points.

However, Spurs have to be massive favorites to end this drought. There's (technically) no possibility of a draw; this one will go to penalties if necessary. They're at home. They're playing very good football. Aside from the three-headed Roonaldez monster of Man U, there isn't a strike force with a better understanding than Keano the Younger and Berba. Arsenal are most likely fielding a starting lineup bereft of Cesc Machine, Mattuso, Ade 3000, van Injured, SuperTom, Arcade Fire, Ashley Who?, Sideshow Bob, and England's #1, and though that's not to say some of the aforementioned won't make a bench appearance, knowing Wenger, he'll stick with the kids for as long as possible.

That all said, I'm still going to refrain from making a prediction even though Arsenal definitely shouldn't win this match. Tottenham are the most infamous chokers in the Premiership and consistently the victims of horrible fortune (lasagna, anyone?), especially when their North London neighbors are involved. On a final note, I, for one, have never seen Arsenal lose to Spurs, and though this is an "unimportant" cup with the B squad, that won't lessen the sting if they do.


Ben said...

So the starting lineups were announced, and with Gallas in the backline, it might make things more troublesome for the Spurs. Hleb is starting as well, so that should put some pressure on the "backline" of Tottenham. But I think it'll be hard for Arsenal to avoid going to PKs.

Jim da Silva said...


A few things I'd never experienced before:
1) Watching Arsenal lose to Spurs. So that's what it feels like. Let's never do it again.
2) Watching Arsenal get annihilated. Somehow less damaging than a close loss. You just start to feel numb.
3) Seeing Adebayor score and the team lose. Believe it or not, that had never happened.

And a few more thoughts...
1) All credit to Spurs. They were completely fired up from the get-go. They knew exactly what they wanted to do and executed brilliantly, taking advantage of Arsenal's inexperience and weakness at the back immediately.
2) The Tottenham fans were huge all game. About fifteen minutes from time, the entirety of White Hart Lane burst into song and didn't stop until the end. So much repressed bitterness, free at last.
3) Actually, the Arsenal supporters weren't bad either. At 4-nil, one could still hear "we love you Arsenal, we do" being sung to the rafters from a depleted away crowd. Respect.
4) Wenger put out a stronger lineup than was originally predicted and was still trounced. This is going to raise some major questions.
5) The repercussions could go one of two drastic ways. It could shake confidence and create disunion (Bendtner and Gallas getting into it is a bad sign), or it could shoot this team into high gear. We'll see.
6) Fabianski was really quite poor. Good thing Arsenal still have Mad Jens in reserve.
7) Tottenham are never, ever, ever, EVER going to let Gooners live this one down. EVER. And they shouldn't.

Oh, and forget what I said about the Carling Cup being important. It's a small competition that nobody takes seriously. Good riddance. Now we can focus on the trophies for big clubs. Seriously. Forget what I said.

Juan Cebolla said...

carling cup is for poofs