FA Cup Final fan opinion: Good Old Arsenal, we're proud to say that name...
PUBLISHED: 09:56 26 May 2017
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And so we arrive at our last stop of a rather bumpy season, the FA Cup Final. Wembley will once again see the Gunners grace its hallowed turf, but this time with a weight of questions hanging over just about everybody and everything at the club.
Unlike the week to week Premier League complications, the pathway to Wembley has largely been as smooth as a freshly clipped Lord’s wicket. The only difficult hurdles of any note were at Preston North End in the third round and the semi final against Manchester City at Wembley.
Arsenal flopped into Deepdale in early January on the back of a terrible display at Bournemouth, where a point had been desperately gleaned in the last few minutes to keep those diminishing Premier League aspirations barely alive.
The first 45 minutes of the Deepdale experience allowed one and all to see how malleable Arsenal had become, displaying very little physically and nothing at all tactically.
It took a rare half time bellowing from Arsene Wenger to make them understand that if they lost this game the season was probably over – just after Christmas.
They responded, all was forgiven, and the next three ties against Southampton, Sutton United and Lincoln City were all one-way street affair with Arsenal coasting through with very few problems albeit against teams they would be expected to beat anyway.
The semi final against Manchester City was always going to be a tense affair, in no small part due to the ever increasing membership of the ‘Wenger Out’ movement loudly voicing their opinion whenever they could.
An extra time winner from Alexis Sanchez thankfully sealed a place in the final but by then March and April’s poor league form had already scuppered any real chance of Arsenal competing in the Champions League next season.
In the period between the semi final and tomorrow’s weekend’s final, the stories of woe that have beset the club since the middle of the season have intensified.
Almost daily, Wenger has been under pressure having to explain on-field failings, stories circulate concerning club structural changes and details of a cash bid for Arsenal lock, stock and barrel from Alisher Usmanov have surfaced. The club is in turmoil and our opponents love it.
Wenger appears to be staying whoever ends up with the club deeds in their jacket pocket. Sam Kroenke is obviously happy for Wenger to stay, and Usmanov actually appears no different.
As recently as April he stated, “I do not think that the coach alone is to be blamed for what is happening. Some continuity is needed. This includes the need to prepare a successor for Wenger, but in a very respectful way. I can suggest that Wenger himself can prepare a successor.”
These are wise words and if such action should had taken place five years ago a lot of the present vitriol surrounding the club would have been avoided.
The final against Chelsea will not be easy.
In the old days people used to say that form goes out of the window in the Cup.
Unfortunately I’m not certain it will this time, as Chelsea desperately want ‘The Double’ and I don’t trust our defence.
Despite years of tutelage from Steve Bould they always play as though they have just met.
It may well need a miracle with Laurent Koscielny missing, but if we can keep it tight we are always likely to nick a late Sanchez winner - as City found out…
All together now… “Good old Arsenal, we’re proud to say that name…”
Follow Ed on Twitter @nostalgicfootie.