Tonight should have been the first proper big game since we moved to the new stadium in 2006. We were totally outclassed at Old Trafford last week but somehow came away with only a 1 goal deficit so there was a chance. I think, in truth, that’s all any Arsenal really wanted – a chance to beat United and get to the final.
For 8 minutes, we looked pretty good – the right attitude, the right formation, some nice passing – then Gibbs slipped and let Park in and Ronaldo beat Almunia with a free kick and it was all over. So much for the big game we all wanted and needed. Season over and almost nothing to shout about at home again – despite getting to 2 cup semi-finals and comfortably finishing 4th.
I don’t think many Arsenal fans thought we could win this one so I’m sure that most of us aren’t feeling too down about going out – its the manner of the defeat that is disappointing – outclassed and outfought virtually from the start, we barely created a chance in the 90 minutes. That’s the 3rd cup semi final game this season in which we have shown very little going forward. United were lucky with the Gibbs slip and our confidence drained away after the 2nd went in but we never really looked good enough and the big players like Cesc and Theo never turned up. Adebayor was, as ever, useless and Van Persie hardly got a look in, despite dropping very deep to collect the ball at times.
There are many aspects of the current side which need attention – a stronger, meaner defence is top of the list and more clinical strikers are also required, along with a defensive midfielder and some cover in every area of the pitch. Some experience is clearly also required, as these youngsters’ confidence, once dented, never recovers. But in reality, I think we have achieved more this season than I thought we would at the start and I don’t think anyone can be too unhappy with what we’ve seen overall.
The trouble is, almost everyone who claims to support Arsenal will be downhearted and the media will be full of the usual questions about Arsene Wenger’s ability to bring trophies to the club and the suggestions that big players like Fabregas will want to leave due to the lack of success. In my opinion, with the resources that we have available at the moment, and with the modern game the way it is, we’ve got no chance of winning anything so the quicker most fans adjust their expectations and start enjoying what we do achieve, the better.
Fans’ expectations of what their clubs can achieve and the timescales in which they can achieve them is what is killing the modern game. We’ve not got a League winning team, nor a European Cup winning team. We don’t have a God-given right to win a trophy every so often so if we don’t win one for a while, so what?
It will only make it more enjoyable when we eventually do win something. Let’s start looking forward to a couple of decent signings in the summer and an improvement next season, shall we?