Arsenal v. Cardiff, Monday Night Football!

I don’t want to put too much pressure on the boys but if you look at the draw for the next two rounds, you’d certainly have to favor Arsenal to get into the semi-finals of the FA Cup. If they get past Cardiff today (11:45am PST) they get to face Burnley and play for the right to play one of Hull or Sheffield United, which if they win would put Arsenal in the semi-finals for the first time since 2005. Which just so happens to be the last time Arsenal won a trophy. Coincidence? Most likely…

However, look at the teams ahead of us. Burnley knocked Arsenal out of the League Cup, Hull got a famous win over Arsenal at Emirates and their manager got to do the Pardew shuffle in front of 60,000 Goonahs, and I’ll never forget the night that Arsenal lost 1-0 to Sheffield United on a pitch that looked like a cow pasture, with Phil Jagielka deputized as keeper for 1/2 an hour, in the match that was supposed to see Arsenal secure 4th but instead had all the pundits claiming that Arsenal would finish the season in 5th place — which they would have if not for the grace of some foul lasagna. So, getting a win over those clubs would feel extra good to me.

But before I celebrate those wins, the boys have to get past Cardiff, which they completely failed to do just a few weeks ago, and (worse) they are going to have to do it with a much deeper injured reserve than last time. This time Arsenal are without Adebayor, Eboue, Arshavin, Diaby, Silvestre (thank the Gods we signed him!), Theo, Cesc and (of course) Tomas Rosicky — that’s the kind of injury list that would make any manager cringe.

Worse than the injuries is that the reserves aren’t performing very well either with Arsenal having only scored one goal since Jan 17th. Throw in the fact that Cardiff haven’t conceded a goal in that same period and Arsenal have a bit of a mountain to climb here today. How Wenger plans on climbing that mountain is, as always, a bit of a mystery.

The one thing we can say for sure is that fan whipping boy Eboue is not going to start on the right, which gives Wenger a selection headache right from the start. Up till now, every single time Eboue’s been out this season, Wenger has played Denilson in that spot — to little effect. I’d be surprised if Wenger changes course now, he likes having a “defensive” minded player on the wings, but I really wish he would change course. If for no other reason than the fact that Arsenal cannot progress without a goal and the whole world knows that Cardiff are going to be happy to sit back and wait for the chance to nick a goal.

To get the Arsenal goal, I would start Vela left, Nasri right, Denilson and Song in the middle, van Persie and Bendtner up front, and the back four picks itself.  If that’s not working, then Dudu comes on in the 60th minute for Denilson or Song, Wilshere comes on for Vela (moving Nasri left), and in desperation in the final minutes of the match, I put on Almunia in Bendtner’s place because he’s been shite all match.

But that’s probably not what’s going to happen. I suspect the boss wants to give Rambo a chance to redeem himself after the whoopin’ in Wales and so he’ll start centrally with Song and from there, Wenger’s team picks itself: Denilson “wide” right, Nasri on the left, Bendtner and van Persie up front and a leaky sieve at the back. Which from here on out shall be referred to as “Vintage Arsenal 2008/2009.” From there, Wenger will start throwing on “strikers” in a desperate attempt to get a goal. That’s all a big IF. IF Wenger sticks to his recent plan of attack.

Anyway, regardless of the lineup to start the match, I would be shocked if we don’t get a little Dudu today, which would mark his first appearance on the team since Martin Taylor tried to end his career. This should give all Goonahs (hell, all football fans) a cause to celebrate.

Let’s just hope it’s not the only thing we have to celebrate.

For you locals, a few of us are going to be at Doyle’s for the kickoff (11:45) so come on down, raise a pint, and cheer on the Arsenal. See you there.


13 Responses to “Arsenal v. Cardiff, Monday Night Football!”

  1. 1 Stu5
    February 16, 2009 at 9:47 am

    yeah sadly i don’t think wenger has any faith in vela. it’s going to be denilson on the right and yet more impotent wide-play and midfield play from probably everyone but sammy. up front rvp will likely have to work stupidly hard and there you have it.

    i think we should still win, but it’s a matter of i think wenger can make this a really doable comfortable game to win. but instead his stubbornness is going to make this a stupidly tough chore.

  2. February 16, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I think Rambo’s injured isn’t he? I like your line up Tim and We may see it.

    Stu5, it’s nothing to do with faith or stubbornness. AW is bringing Vela along at the pace he judges to be best for the longer term. You’ve got eyes. He struggles in EPL, does well in pre-season games with no consequence, does OK in Carling Cup (but HIS misses are why we’re out. He had four one on ones with a Championship keeper and couldn’t take one of them). Don’t get carried away, son. You’ll start sounding like the Gunning Hawk aka the Fumbling Featherbag. Vela WILL be great for Arsenal, but not this season.

  3. 3 caribkid
    February 16, 2009 at 11:31 am

    One line-up change Tim, put Nasri beside Song in the middle and we should get some creativity out of the MF, which is what we have been lacking this season.

    Better yet, go to a 4-2-3-1 with Song and Denilson as holding DM’s, Nasri, Wilshire/Vela and Dudu in an inverted V and RVP as the solitary striker. The wing backs can be used to provide width as necessary by overlapping runs, and let’s take it to these Championship lads instead of waiting on counters and creating possession with diagonal passing and a slow tempo game.

    It’s not going to happen, but at least I can still dream.

  4. 4 caribkid
    February 16, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    2-0 at the half. One word for Dudu and Vela, CLASS.

    Brilliant headed goal by Bendtner sandwiched between two horrible misses. Story of St. Nick.

    Vela, Dudu and Nasri supplying the attacking creativity with Song and Denilson at least trying forward passes instead of those time wasting diagonal ones.

    Fabianski teaching Almunia how to distribute balls from the back.

  5. February 16, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    @Stu5: With all due respect you couldn’t have been more wrong. This was an attacking Asenal side the like of which we have not really seen all season. Vela was a fantastic livewire, Eduardo showed his class, Nasri was tidy and we seemed solid at the back (admittedly Cardiff didn’t offer much).

    AW has clearly targeted the FA Cup as an achievable piece of silverware, alongside the other targets he may have (CL and/or CL qualification). Well done. And bring the rest of the season on, big style.

    Oh, I had genuine red-and-white salty tears in my eyes when Dudu scored his first too.

  6. 6 WC
    February 16, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    4-0 to The Arsenal. It feels like 2003 all over again. Eddie is superb and our unwavering belief in his return has paid dividends tonight. We most certainly will be a force with him back and looking the way he has tonight. Goodbye chelsea, enjoy the UEFA Cup. Let us know how it goes.

  7. 7 caribkid
    February 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Definitely had tears in my eyes after both Eduardo’s goals.

    Great to have him back.

  8. 8 myc
    February 16, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Who would have thought Eduardo will start the game?
    Perhaps only Wenger.
    And with Vela on the left and Nasri doing the cesc in midfield, we see 80% of the good old Arsenal we have missed for so long.
    And Bravissimo Eduardo, getting two goals on his return. What a player! What a fighter! What a Gunner!
    Now, Tim, would you believe that Arsenal can go on a run of 7 wins in a row?
    And poor old Roma were beaten 3-0 in the weekend…
    I cannot wait for the games to come quickly.
    and imagine we will soon get Cesc and Theo back….

  9. February 16, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Vela, Nasri,Dudu. They were perfect. Bendtner… eh. Still, the team needed this one badly.

  10. 10 Keith Barham
    February 16, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I am absolutely delighted for Eduardo. That was a dream return for him.

    This was a match to behold since they shelled Cardiff at will. Only a solid keeper held the tally to 4-0. SHOOT! Imagine that, a team that fires shots on goal has a chance to score. There is a lesson to take from this display.

  11. 11 Matt
    February 16, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Yes we can!!

  12. 12 Frenchie Gooner
    February 17, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Did anyone see Nasri’s hair? What the hell was he thinking!?!?

  13. 13 Frenchie Gooner
    February 17, 2009 at 1:19 am

    Oh and give me Cesc Theo and Rosicky back

    oh dear the possibilities are endless with Cesc, Theo, Nasri, Arshavin, Rosicky, RvP and DuDu…ahghrhhhgzzzasgaaaaa

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