I remember that fateful day, it was a fifth round FA Cup game between Arsenal and Blackburn at the Emirates. I actually did not want to watch the game because I was already looking forward to the next round. I had every reason to be confident, Blackburn were struggling in the Championship, they were managerially unstable and must have still had the 7-1 premier league drubbing in the hands of the gooners the previous season; so you see why I was confident (maybe over confident). I eventually decided to watch the game and I was utterly disappointed. We put up a good enough team that would have been able to do the job but they failed. After the League Cup loss to Bradford few months back, this was another hard blow to the team and its fans.
It took a miracle for the team to recover from that loss and we find ourselves once again on the threshold of another FA cup campaign, this time not against a lower opposition, that we might get complacent but against our perennial rivals and next door neighbor Tottenham Hotspurs.
Earlier in the league, both sides squared up in the Emirates, there was a lot of pessimism among gooners especially that we had not spent on any transfers (apart from free transfer Flamini) and the Lilly Whites has spent over a 100 million pounds on transfers but when the gooners won and 24 hours later pulled off a massive coup in bringing in Ozil, the mood changed. A lot has changed for both sides since that game, AVB has been sacked, Tim Sherwood is in charge, Arsenal are top of the League table and have a genuine chance of winning it this year.
Tim Sheerwood has engineered a mini recovery for Spurs and there is surely that renewed belief in the side. Adebayor is back in the squad, they now play an expansive and attacking 4-4-2 system and despite their million dollar players, academy players seem to be striving under Tim (Bentaleb and Fryers). Wenger understands that spurs are a revitalized side and thus would not take anything for granted.
In this case I consider it a top level Premier League game, which means I have to play a team who has a chance to win a top level Premier League game. My players are highly focused on this game,” he said. “They are determined to win every single game they play, their attitude has been absolutely fantastic since the start of the season and will be like that on Saturday.-ARSENE WENGER (on arsenal.com)
Even Jack Wilshere shares in the manager’s view:
This is my favourite game of the season. I love these type of games. You just raise your level and you don’t want to lose. When you’re walking onto the pitch you’re telling yourself, we can’t lose this, no matter what we can’t lose.- JACK WILSHERE (on arsenal.com)
The gooners have some injury issues, Bendtner (ankle), Ramsey (thigh), Gibbs (calf), Sanogo (back), Diaby (knee), Oxlade-Chamberlain (match-fitness). While Giroud and Ozil are both doubts even though the latter trained with the squad. Wenger has also said that he would only give rest to those players that absolutely need it so we should expect a very strong lineup.
I expect the players to give their all, give the fans something to celebrate about. It is not just a passage to the next round that is at stake but also local pride and bragging rights. With the next game in 9 days’ time, the team should not be short of motivation as they would have recovery time from this game.
The Blackburn defeat was a massive set-back to the team and one that is still at the back of the Boss’ mind and that of every fan. There is no better way to banish the ghost of that game than making white corner of North London sad. #COYG
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