Feb 272011

Tuesday will see Groan’s fourth birthday as a blog – I started it a few days after the 2007 Carling Cup final defeat to Chelsea, and since then I’ve haven’t had the opportunity to preview or cover another showpiece day. Tomorrow, that all changes as we take on Birmingham in the final of the same competition. I’m tempted to say things have come full circle from the week I started, but in reality this season could barely be more different – that year, defeat to Chelsea was soon followed by an insipid Champions League exit to PSV that rendered every remaining game meaningless. There will be no petering out this time around.

The attitude to the Carling Cup has also changed in that time – in 2007, a partnership of Aliadiere and Baptista propelled us to the final, where they were joined by a host of young players, some of whom have gone on to become regular first teamers (Walcott memorably opened his Arsenal account that day), with others (Hoyte, Traore) falling by the wayside. It was a long way from being a first choice XI, up against a full strength Chelsea team approaching the peak of their powers. Looking back, it was to our credit that we avoided a hammering.

This season, despite temptations to prioritise given our position in four competitions, it will not be taken lightly. Not just because we need to end the barren run without trophies, and not because our aims have lowered, but simply because it is a trophy within our grasp, and any such event should be taken seriously. That it builds momentum for the rest of the season, or acts as a springboard for a trophy spree is almost irrelevant – it is a chance to see silverware lifted above a podium of Arsenal players. That alone is comfortably enough.

And Wenger knows it. He believes that the squad has enough depth, fitness and quality to attack four competitions, and has shown that in his selections. The absence of Cesc and Walcott tomorrow provide him with something of a headache, but most of the team still picks itself – Szczesny will cap his meteoric rise in goal, the back four of Sagna-Djourou-Koscielny-Clichy are in form, and the front three of Arshavin-Van Persie-Nasri are obvious choices with Theo out. Wenger’s only dilemma lies in the centre, choosing who will play alongside Song and Wilshere. Denilson and Diaby are the two obvious candidates, and I’d favour the latter as long as he is fit enough to start.

It leaves us options from the bench too – Bendtner, Rosicky and Chamakh can come on and make a difference if required. Not bad for a squad supposedly suffering an injury crisis.

For those who haven’t got tickets, the match is live on a selection of channels, but perhaps the most interesting one is the BBC. Alan Hansen has gone on for years about our trophyless run (I remember him banging on about it when it was three years without a trophy), but he will finally have to change his tune if we win. I wouldn’t be surprised if he started excluding the Carling Cup as a valid competition just so that he can continue harping on, but I’m really hoping to see him squirm tomorrow. He hates complimenting us, he really does.

Of course, he’ll be utterly unbearable if we lose, but if that happens, I doubt you’ll be torturing yourself with his analysis anyway.

Sixteen hours to go.

  15 Responses to “Carling Cup Final – what will Hansen say if we win?”

  1. I will watch the game on Sky Sports then turn over to BBC if we win so i can hear what the Man U loving BBC retards have to talk about now. Maybe they can chat about The Spuds or Liverpool Trophy drought now.
    The six year wait may be finally over, lets hope we don’t ever have to hear the dreaded words again Arsenal have not won anything for six years.
    Come on the Gunners.

  2. hansen etc will always be muppets. personally i could care less about all this nonsense about not winning a trophy. only a buffoon would be blind to our achievements over the last 5yrs.

    gotta feel sorry for cesc, does the team need any more motivation?

    oh yeah…. the ref scares the ish outta me.

    4-1 2us ;-)

  3. He’ll play Bendtner (against his old team) on the right, Nasri in the middle with Wilshere and Song. The rest is obvious.

    • I was about to say the same. Bendtner up front and Nasri in the middle looks to me like a much better choice than Diaby, Denilson or Rosicky in the middle. Diaby seems like he is slowly getting into form again but PLEASE keep Denilson as far away from the pitch as we can (maybe we should tell him they still play it in Cardiff).

      • I see where you’re going, but I wonder if he’ll look to shore up the middle against Birmingham. Denilson is likely to be the late sub that terrifies us if we’re winning.

  4. how is it that diaby can get a 3 match ban . and rooney can get away with elbowing some one in the face.and because the ref saw it he will get away with it.the ref is out of order he shod get a 6 match ban.

    • Yeah, Clattenburg will probably say he saw and dealt with it, and that’ll be the end of that. Interesting to see MotD calling both Rooney and Clattenburg out last night – rare bravery from them.

  5. so sad that scholes n rooney keep on commitng fouls intetionally and the ref is jst there, bogus refs nkt

  6. who cares about what he says about us cant wait to see robin lift the cup 4 us yeaaaaaaah

  7. screw hansen. who cares? ignoring the pompous puppet-self-promoter is the best treatment. shrink his audience, don’t dignify him with a story about his pov.
    cheers for the sentiment, though.

  8. To answer the headline: …years without a major trophy…

  9. We simply MUST stop getting paranoid over Hansen and his comments.
    Realise that he adopts this attitude of being outrageous and contraversial purely to safeguard his contract.

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