With the Gunners’ fixture list becoming rather claustrophobic there have been noises of doubt of over whether a full strength Arsenal will run out against Birmingham on Sunday. Arsenal picked up some devastating injuries after their clash with Stoke, leaving Fabregas and Walcott out of the final.
Unfortunately for Arsene the pressure is building on him to end the clubs six year wait for silverware and that should be reflected in the squad. Arsenals first cup final in four years will prove to be an important one, as Barcelona and a title scrap loom ominously in the shadows.
Desire – Arsenal really need to win a trophy
Arsenal is a club used to winning and the drought of success is a constant thorn in their side. They have looked on as Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool have all recorded domestic successes since 2006 as the Gunners have failed. This is a huge incentive for Arsenal – to finally rid their back of this annoying trophy-shy monkey – and will no doubt be bandied around the dressing room pre-match.
It may be a cup that has fallen in stature but silverware is silverware and the psychological boost lifting a trophy can give a team is essential. Especially as Arsenal are still fighting on all four fronts.
Strength – Birmingham will face a full strength Arsenal side
Alex McLeish will be hoping that Arsene has is attention divided going into the final but the Frenchman will be completely focused on the task in hand. There will be no wholesale changes to the side that took on Stoke mid-week apart from the obvious need to replace the injuries.
It will be a gamble, but a win could see Arsenal recollect how addictive winning is; perfect as seen as they have a few other trophies they could pick up this season. Putting out a half strength side against Birmingham, who will be aching to win, would be a bad choice. Wenger needs to reverse the loosing mentality.
Belief – Arsenal know they can beat Birmingham
Birmingham has failed to defeat arsenal this season, losing both at home and away. This gives the Londoners a huge psychological advantage in such a mentally volatile environment.
A quick, early goal could see confidence wither throughout the Birmingham ranks and Arsenal are most likely to go for the jugular from the kick off. Although Arsene will acknowledge that every game is different and that the league encounters count for nothing, the players will feel comfort in the knowledge that they have triumphed twice already over the same opposition.
Experience – Arsene has been here before
Unlike his counterpart, Arsene Wenger has experienced a League Cup final when back in 2007 his side lost out to Chelsea. In that particular instance Arsenal sent out an extremely youthful squad as his youngsters impressed in their match to the final.
There was a sprinkling of first team regulars but the majority were up and coming stars. That ploy failed to clinch the trophy as after going ahead early on Chelsea turned the tables and ran out 2 – 1 winners. Wenger isn’t the sort of man to make the same mistake twice and has experience on his side.
Quality – Arsenal are, simply, a better side
Whilst naive and superficial at first glance, this statement has more than just the obvious attached to it. This season, out of the 20 games Arsenal has played against the teams 7th and below, they have lost twice and won 15. They have grown since last season, and coped with teams that were known to bully Arsenal off the ball.
In 2009-10 Birmingham held Arsenal to a draw at St. Andrews – this season they were torn apart and failed to score. The Gunners aren’t just a better side than Birmingham but they are a much better side than Arsenal was last year. Combine this with the insatiable craving for a trophy and you can see why Arsenal will most likely be holding the cup aloft come Sunday night.
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