Monday, 28 February 2011

Disappointed but we need to focus on the bigger rewards

Arsenal 1 - Birmingham City 2

Disappointed. That's really the only word for me which sums up yesterday. 

This morning we should all be recovering from hang overs of a good variety - the one's only fans of the winning teams have. Instead we waking up knowing that monkey on our back of not having won a trophy for six years is still there.

And had it not been for a monumental cock-up in the final minute of normal time, could that statistic be consigned to history? Quite possibly.

I suppose when the team news came through that Wenger had opted for Tomas Rosicky and Andrey Arshavin in place of Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, I must say I was slightly perplexed by his decision.

Arshavin I have no problem with. He is coming back into the form we need him to be in if we are going to win anything this season. But Rosicky? Personally Tomas is one of my favourite players. But even I know his form this season and in recent games hasn't done anything to suggest he was going to start yesterday.

And especially playing in the 'Cesc role' behind the striker in the centre of the attacking three. As I said in my preview before the game, losing Nasri from the wing isn't great because he is so dynamic but he was the best solution we had without our captain being present.

Even before the match I was getting nervous. And I was that way because so many Gooners thought we'd win easily. Yes, I understood the logic in their thinking - having beaten the same opposition home and away already this season. But this was a one off cup game where the winner takes the trophy. Given that Birmingham haven't won anything since 1963, there was a big insensitive.

On the day our players seemed to be inhibited by the biggest stage. It was Birmingham who took hold of the ball and passed it around. We came into the contest more in the second half and a sustained period of pressure which failed to result in a second goal.

I could go through the individual stages of the match but I feel there is little point. For all Birmingham's lack of creativity we failed to take our chances in the final third.

I don't believe any of our players are to blame for the result. Yes, you could say that Szczesny and Koscielny were at fault for both goals. Koscielny failing to win the  initial header for the first goal and Szczesny coming for the ball when he may have done better to stay on his line.

And then the monumental cock-up for Birmingham's winner. What really can be said about that?

These incidents happen all the time in football. It's unfortunate that they happened to us yesterday.

These players are going to be with the club until the end of the season and all of them need our support. That's why it's important that they learn from this experience. No one wants to be a loser, but if this makes them more determined and focused in the next final they play in all the better.

We still have three competitions to play for this season and a good chance to win all three. It's how we respond to this set back which will see the real character of this side emerge.
I'm sure the manager will pick them up and refocus them on what will be a tough match on Wednesday night.

We need the supporters who were so vocal against Barcelona to be back in full voice against Leyton Orient. The team is hurting as much as we are today. Let's give them our backing to ensure we push on to even greater rewards to come at the end of the season.

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