Saturday, 12 April 2014

Arsenal vs Wigan: Match Preview

I'm not nervous.

A fellow Gooner WhatsApped me today, "If Arsenal don't win the FA Cup, I'll dedicate my Facebook page to Phil Collins and become a John Terry fan for a week."

Poor guy. Imagine dedicating your Facebook page to Phil Collins. Actually, don't, our mind's our corrupted enough already.

It's symbolic of how desperate Arsenal supporters have gone for a trophy that they wouldn't want anything to go wrong today. And judging our 'performance' at Goodison Park, there's plenty that could go wrong. The supporters, the players, the manager, the backroom staff, heck, even that ridiculous dinosaur mascot of ours - everyone related to Arsenal has gone (pardon my language) fucking paranoid today.

Not me, though. Surprisingly, on the cusp of our most important game of the season, I feel no heartbeat in my ribs. I feel no sweaty palms, no mood swings and no shaky hands, even though I've run out of my supply of Tic Tacs.

It's odd, isn't it? I go completely berserk while watching Arsenal trying to defend a narrow 1-0 lead at the Westfalenstadion, yet my mind's the most colourless I could ever imagine going into a make-or-break game for Arsenal and for Wenger. And while my mentality is downright peculiar for even myself, I know that there is a perfectly logical explanation for it.

Deep down I know that irrespective of what happens, I'll leave the game with a positive mentality. There is no way, absolutely no way that I'll feel like shite after the match. The moment Wigan defeated Manchester City I knew that the FA Cup would decide Wenger's future at Arsenal. Today, it seems, is judgement day.

If you think rationally, the FA Cup does much more for Arsenal than just provide something tangible for this season:

CASE 1: We win the FA Cup, get the trophyless run off our backs and provide consolation to a season that admittedly should have provided much more. We finish in the top four, and the manager stays on.

CASE 2: We lose today, yet make the top four. Wenger leaves regardless.

CASE 3: We win today but lose the final. However, we still make the top four. In this case, I reckon the manager will stay.

CASE 4: We win today but lose the final. To add to that, we miss out on the Champions League. Heartbreak, but Wenger definitely leaves.

CASE 5: We lose today and screw up top four. Let's not think about that.


I'm betting most Arsenal fans, if not all, would go for Case 1 here. At this point, there's seems to be simply no other option but to cut our losses and win a Champions League spot along with the FA Cup. Plus, it would offer Wenger a chance to make amends for a terrible campaign.

While I too would be happy with Case 1, I'm making Case 2 my preference. Believe me when I say that losing the FA Cup is better for us in the long-term, because well, it is. We'd finally get rid of Wenger, we'd have a top four foundation for the next manager and we'd have genuine hope instead of this "fourth place is a trophy" nonsense. I know as a fact that Wenger will leave if we don't win today, and I don't need to emphasize how good it would be if Wenger does go.

What fears me the most is Case 3. No trophies (please don't say fourth place) and more of Wenger for two years? I think I'd do drugs.

However, I actually am okay with the other four cases. In the end, all I want (all we want) is for Arsenal Football Club to do better. Yes, I have a strange method for wanting that, but there you go. If wanting Wenger out of the club has gotten me to the level of wanting us to lose today, then so be it.

The team news, as you'd expect, is disastrous. To add to the already expanding list of Koscielny, Wilshere, Ozil and Walcott, we're potentially deprived of Chamberlain, Rosicky and Gibbs as well, forcing Ramsey a start. I'd suggest Arsene to field a starting line up of Fabianski - Jenkinson - Mertesacker - Sagna - Monreal - Kallstrom/Vermaelen - Arteta - Ramsey - Cazorla - Podolski - Sanogo, but I guess Wenger will instead choose to overplay Rosicky and Chamberlain regardless of injuries or overplaying. That's one of the million reasons of why I want him out, by the way.

I won't exactly be rooting for Arsenal to fail, just to clarify. I wouldn't go all crazy if Wigan take the lead, nor would I be depressed if Arsenal go to the final. I'm just saying that regardless of what happens, there always will be a silver lining.

This really isn't an "all or nothing" situation, as the mainstream media have wrongly made it out to be. In reality, regardless of what happens it'll definitely be a bittersweet moment, for me at least. My head - which wants Wenger out - and my heart, which badly wants Arsenal to win a trophy; either one of them will be satisfied at the end of the match.

Which will it be? Well, that's down to Arsenal now, isn't it?

P.S. Don't know if anyone noticed, but this was blog no. 100. How fitting was it that it came today, on undoubtedly Arsenal's most important game of the season so far.

Oh, and spare a thought for the guy who is on the verge of supporting Phil Collins and John Terry. Bad times indeed.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )