Two Games To Define Our Season
I wrote last week, in the lead up to the first of our trilogy of encounters with Liverpool, of how wary I was of our european encounters with the scousers. And so it proved. In many ways, we were desperately unlucky to only come out of that encounter with just the one goal and a draw to show for our endeavours. We bossed the game, scored first, spurned numerous other chances, and had to endure watching the referee on the night turn down what was a blatant penalty for a foul in the area on Alex Hleb.
The weekend's rematch was a different story. We didn't really seem to get going. Which was incredibly disappointing, as all of us Gooners then bore witness to the mancs dropping two points to Boro. Oh, how it would have changed the Premier League picture and the mood amongst us fans if we'd only gone out and delivered in saturday's game. But that's all done now, and no use crying over spilt milk, etc. Same with the penalty-that-should-have-been. We've just got to go up there and get on with it, this truly is a one-off cup tie now. Win and we're through - we have to score, so at least we now what's required of us. A goalless performance from the team leaves us out of The CL for another season, so let's hope that the players have their shooting boots on tomorrow. Who knows what putting one away first against 'pool will do to them, They'd have to come out, and take a risk. A 1-1 draw would do them no great favours, and their boys would have it in their head that one more conceded and they would have a mountain to climb. To be in the head of a player at a moment like that. I'd just settle for watching the Liverpool players squirm in that situation, though. I wish for that to be the case tomorrow.
In the immediate aftermath of last week's game, it felt like a defeat. But since the dust has settled there is every chance for us to go up there and dump the scousers out of the CL on their own turf. I'm not going to make any churchillian speech, because frankly, if I were to write one, it would come out as a big bag of shite, and we don't need words, we need a performance. Last week, the words spoken by Kolo about how Liverpool would be scared of us were all well and good, but to me they didn't serve much purpose. I'd much prefer to see him doing what he does best - put 100% energy into his performance, and deny their boys any sniff of a chance.
Apparently, RvP is fit - I continue to hold this hope that each next game is the one where he will finally burst back into life and score some beauty of a goal, one of those ones that you cannot legislate for. He's running out of games to make this dream come true for me. Alas, as has been the story this season, as positive news regarding one player appears, so does a negative report on another follow, in much the same way that rancid farts and severe pebble-dashing follow the day after a night spent out drinking several pints of fruity ales. And so it proves true again, with the news that Tomas Rosicky is highly unlikely to feature in the first team again this season. Tommy, surely the only player in world football (Darren Anderton aside) to be constructed almost entirely from balsa wood, has broken down more times than Heather Mills on a breakfast television interview, and it's been so long since he was last playing that when the news came out of his premature end to the season, I'd actually forgotten that he was still on our books. I really can see the chap being moved on during the summer. Every time he gets up a head of steam, someone blows on him, he falls over and puts his pelvis out. Or something.
Talking of injuries, and following the 'it's not necessarily over' nature of this piece, we can only hope that the mancs go into what should have been sunday's title-decider without their first-choice central defensive partnership. I would love to beat the mancs in their own back yard with them having a full-strength team out, but if someone were to turn round to me and offer me the chance for Arsenal to play them with them sporting a makeshift defence, I'd bite their hand off. Or their ear, if I were Mike Tyson. Mathematically, it is still possible, but let's face it, the chances of us lifting the Premier League title make Kiera Knightley look portly. But while there is hope, let's not give up.
However, balls to that game for now. Let's go up to Anfield first and do the business, and then see where we go from there. Here's hoping it's through to the next round of the Champions League.