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Will Sunday’s loser be the end of May winner?

By Walter Broeckx

How do you treat an FA cup match sandwiched between important league fixtures and an important CL match? This is the question that will be on Wenger his mind the last few days.

Contrary to the popular believe that the media and some non-existing fans are trying to paint about Arsenal’s season being completely over, we are still in 3 competitions. One point behind the leaders in the league might be seen as competing. We are still in the FA cup and we are still in the Champions League.

For me I would say that the PL is the most important thing to play for. I think winning a league has always much more worth than winning a cup competition. In cup competitions you depend a lot on the luck of the draw most of the time. But in a league you can show if you have performed best and got more points than the other teams. So that would and should be the number one target. And I think it is the number one target for Arsenal.

In other seasons then the second important target might be the Champions League. I can imagine the people who give up before a ball is kicked saying that we don’t have a chance against Bayern Munich at all. They are probably the best team in Europe right now. They are 13 points clear in what seems to become a less competitive league now.

I remember the last decade in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich mostly around the top (but even they missed CL football one season if my memory serves) but there were sometimes real surprises in who could win the league. But Bayern Munich has gone the way of sucking life out of their competitors by buying the best players of the other teams so they are weakened in the next season.

All this is possible because of the big financial advantage Bayern Munich has over their competitors. But apart maybe from having been a bit lucky in getting their new stadium, they have worked their way to that level. Helped by the biggest sponsor around but that is also mostly down to their own work. Well I think it is…

But by doing what Bayern Munich has done the last seasons ( disturbing their competitors by buying their best players) and if reports can be believed planning on doing again this summer they might have shot themselves in the foot in the long term.

Because who is still interested in the Bundesliga this season? I ‘m not. My sports channel also shows the Bundesliga and up to last season I gladly watched a match when I did have the time. But now this season…I couldn’t be bothered any more. 13 points in front…the tension is killing me (NOT).  And when people start losing interest because of the fact that you know who will win it before a ball is kicked the companies that pay the TV rights will not want to spend any more.

It is like he Scottish league. I must say that until a few seasons ago I checked it regularly. Just to see who would be on top: Celtic or Rangers. But tell me do you know how much advantage Celtic has right now? I will tell you it is 21 points in front. Another tension killing league. Nerve wrecking stuff for the fans… I cannot imagine anyone paying money to broadcast the Scottish league worldwide. Even if Celtic were the best team in Europe and would win the CL two times in a row.

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So maybe Bayern has to be a bit more careful. Their currently being far ahead might have a bad influence in a few years time.

But coming back to our task. It will be difficult against Bayern. Maybe even impossible one might say. So give up the CL and concentrate on the FA Cup this season? Or give up on the FA cup and focus on the CL?

I difficult choice to make. Usually Wenger uses the FA cup to rest a few players. I think Jenkinson might be played at right back. And maybe Wenger will give Mertesacker a rest and play Sagna as a central defender. I don’t know the latest on Vermaelen yet as I write this but if he still is out then I would consider resting Per for this match.

I also would consider giving Jack a rest. The way he was kicked all over the field in the last week will have left some marks. I remember a foul from Valencia on Jack in the first half. Valencia coming in from behind tackling through Wilshere trying to reach for the ball that seemed to be touched. Clattenburg pointing at the ball to indicate he played the ball… And when looking at the replay I also noticed that indeed the ball was touched…by Jack.   This was terrible Mark. Coming through a player from behind and touching his legs and ankle is a foul. You could see that Jack was in trouble for a while after that.

I would also not play Giroud in this match. Maybe even give Özil a rest and play Podolski up front with Gnabry. And this might be a good match to give Arteta a rest and play Flamini after his suspension.

Wenger has a few options to rotate a bit for the FA cup match. And give some rest to some players. But if then it would go wrong the backlash will be that people will blame him for not playing his strongest team. So the only thing to avoid that is to simply win the match against Liverpool.

A Liverpool that has greatly benefited so far this season from not playing in any European league, being out of the League cup immediately and almost always had a one week rest in between matches. So for them being out of the FA cup might help them again in the league. And them staying the the FA cup might be the first handicap as they would be forced to play a few midweek matches and get less rest.

So Sunday’s loser might turn out to be the end of May winner? And this goes for both teams….


21 comments to Will Sunday’s loser be the end of May winner?

  • okey

    I agree completely. May I add however, that as ‘impossible’ as it may seem, Bayern can be beaten.

  • Florian

    It’s a difficult choice indeed, and I wouldn’t really mind bowing out of this competition which is gradually fading in importance compared to the PL. In a twisted way I’d like to see Liverpool get a few more matches there, and maybe get overtaken by Everton:) Or, qualify for nest year’s CL only to find out how tough it is to balance the 4 competitions – which will almost surely affect their next PL campaign. It almost looks like Liverpool could be the new Tottenham, with Suarez as Bale. But back to the topic, I totally agree that the upcoming string of matches cries for resting/rotating players.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    The only way AW avoids blame is if he plays a weak squad which wins on Sunday. Play a strong squad and win or lose he will get blamed for any adverse results in the future for not rotating enough or buying anyone in the transfer window. I remember reading that a peer of Field Marshall BL Montgomery (before he became a peer) once nodded and said ‘ah, yes he is an efficient little shit’ I can’t help but think that someone will surely try to quote that small man down Chelsea way. Intelligent, yes, articulate, yes, but not a nice man.

  • Damilare

    Nice one there again Mr Broeckx.

    Probably the loser on sunday may be winners come May, but nothing is cast on stone yet. It makes this season more interesting.

    It’s spinning around in the media already that our famous ‘february meltdown’ has begun. Imho, I don’t think so. Our friends or ‘non existent part of our fan’ would gladly want it so.

    Liverpool can write Arsenal off to their own peril on Sunday. Rotation or not, we have players that have shown desire to be successful this season. I don’t think they call themselves ‘shit’ like some wandering doom sayers.

    Bring on liverpool. COYG!

  • Rupert Cook

    Concentrate on the FA Cup and dump the CL. Of course this won’t happen but being in the CL is much more strenuous on the squad than the FA Cup and will almost certainly impact on our chances of winning the league. And we have a better chance of winning the FA Cup than the CL.

  • Edda

    This is where we get every season… Its where we have been many of the last “not succesful Seasons”. When you try to compete in 3/4 competitions its gonna be very difficult, and this season as I have pointed out before its gonna be almost impossible because of the fixture list computer. IF we go out in the FA cup we will have a rest before the 2nd leg against Bayern Munich. But I really think that the FA cup is the most likely trophy we can win this season. I would prefer us to Field a weaker side against Bayern M. But I think that AW will go for both an try to win sunday’s match against Liverpool. I love him for his passion and positive attitude, but it could be a Dangerous gamble… It doesnt look good when the bookies have Liverpool as favourites at the Emirates ???? They should be at least 3/1 underdogs!!!

  • OMGArsenal

    Wenger is a winner, as is his team so he’ll go for every competition with equal enthusiasm. Here are some reason why that is important:

    1)Diminishing the importance of a game(any game)can develop serious and perhaps ongoing indifference within the squad. Players may start to believe that some games mean more than others and will ¨conserve¨their best efforts for the ¨high profile¨ competitions/games. That means they show up only a certain % of the time…not good!

    2)Some teams play to win every game, others not to lose too many games. The difference in these two attitudes and approaches is a crucial aspect of champions. One group develops a losing mentality by accepting wins or ties as being equal, the other refuses to accept defeat or accept a tie, without having done everything in their power to win.

    3)You are only as good as your next game, a dictum often quoted in sports journalism. This paradigm reveals the truth behind any sports venture….constant renewal, revival and rejuvenation to get better as each match, or series of games proceeds despite setbacks and disappointments. Wenger knows this and manages his team with this principle, among others,always on his mind.

    4)Wenger knows that facing teams like Liverpool, Bayern, the Spuds, United, City,Barcelona or other challenges tends to generally bring out the best and worst of his players. I believe he actually relishes such confrontations as he is a very big believer in maintaining a positive attitude, self-confidence despite setbacks, belief in oneself and one’s teammates and an appreciation of the team’s true potential. Therefore he’ll go for every competition with a commitment to win, regardless.

    This season is one of our best since 2008. Wenger wants to maintain the energy, drive, passion and team spirit. That means he enters every competition with a plan to win it…whether he does or not is a moot point. He is savy enough to know the difference between actual commitment and pretending, he is no pretender.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Rightly said OMG…..I think we’ll go for all the competitions.

    The bottom half in this league is very close this season. Swansea at 10th is at 28 points which is just 8 points ahead of the team thats placed 20th(Fulham, who sack their manager AGAIN). They will fight for every point. Hence sharper we are better. And by sharp I mean, match sharp. It can only come by playing competitive games…….

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    I think the boss likes the one-game-at-a-time philosophy.

  • Armin

    Well, I really don’t think anyone knows answer. Victory against Liverpool would be best medicine for wounds from last Saturday and welcome moral boost before incoming Bavarians. But that would also bring heavy legs on Wednesday night. On the other side bringing weakened squad vs Liverpool and possible losing the game, or worse getting draw and playing rematch, would cause different set of problems. This is one of rare occasions where I disagree with you Walter.
    This is unfortunately lose-lose situation, and it has nothing with lack of depth or lack of January activity, it is mater of luck (draw). Same as getting trough it will me matter of luck, and I really believe we deserved a bit of luck now. But let us see, and hope boys will stick to what ever Arsene planed, as Arsene knows best.

  • nicky

    I think most followers of our Club would accept that the order of precedence is EPL,CL and FAC.
    Accordingly, to rest some key players on Sunday would seem to make sense. After all, we are at home and should be able to see off Liverpool who do not travel well.
    I continue to have grave fears over the GBH administered to Wilshere in game after game.

  • nicky

    I think most followers of our Club would accept that the order of precedence is EPL,CL and FAC.
    Accordingly, to rest some key players on Sunday would seem to make sense. After all, we are at home and should be able to see off Liverpool who do not travel well.
    I continue to have grave fears over the GBH dished out to Wilshere in game after game. Referees decline to protect him, he retaliates and invariably gets a card.
    He cannot carry on like this without certain long-term injury. Something must be done.

  • Tasos

    Another period where Arsenal are being forced to play three big games inside six days.

    How many other teams get such arduous fixture scheduling at this stage of the season?

    Personally I’d be more worried about the Sunderland game on Saturday after the physical and mental impact of playing first Liverpool then Bayern in quick succession.

    Very little rest/recovery time between games.

    It’s going to be a difficult balancing act, juggling the squad whilst going for the victory but also trying to conserve enough energy to get Arsenal through this tough week.

  • TJ


    Concentrate on the FA Cup and dump the CL? Surely being in the top club competition in world football, up against the current champions in knockout over two legs is what every ambitious football club, player and fan wants to see, as well as competing for your domestic title?

  • Sammy The Snake

    FA Cup is probably Arsenal’s best chance for a trophy this season, and a good way to end our “9 year itch”… So I can’t see AW taking it lightly.
    Winning the FA Cup and finishing near the champions in the league will provide a great springboard for next season.

  • WalterBroeckx

    As I got nothing else to do I just turned on the TV and saw images of the Sunderland – Southampton cup match. Apart from a wonderful goal from Gardner the most striking in this match is….the fact that the stadium seems half empty.

    People saying that fielding a weakened team is disrespectful for the competition. But maybe fans not turning up is somehow showing that the fans don’t really care that much any more for the FA cup…

  • para

    Aye, it’s a dilemma we have, prioritise between the three competitions or concentrate on them all?
    In the end because football is unpredictable due to the changes brought about by injuries and other influences like weather and personal things that may affect players.
    So i say go for them all, but be aware when to change course and prioritise.
    Flexibility is needed by us now, the ability to change direction immediately, and not to “flog a dead horse”.(Sorry animal lovers).
    So i say, at this moment we should go for it.
    Come on Arsenal.

  • bob

    Just maybe the fact you jump on of fans not turning up in the numbers that you stipulate are enough to matter has something to do with: a) the state of the economy on people’s disposable income; and b) the havoc of the weather and its varying results in different parts of the UK. Are you only seeing football attendance to make a “decisive” argument for dumping the FA Cup? Shouldn’t a top-top side be able to handle multi-competitions? to be able to have enough quality ensurance for rotation and injuries? Is that the FA Cup’s falling short, or some other untold problem?

  • bob

    Rupert Cook,
    Dump the CL? What a “fine” idea that is: to thereby betray the players who have come to AFC or wish to play at AFC because we’re always in the CL. If we dump the CL, then that is bound to sow grave doubts in the mind of players (including the world class ones that some of us, like you crave)about the veracity of AFC’s salesmanship in any transfer window. This is about both ethics (not to make false promises to your players or would-be players) and pragmatism (not to ruin our reputation and selling point by showing that dumping the CL is a viable AFC business option – not if future signings are to matter). Dumping the CL = crackpot realism.

  • TJ


    Sunderland fans also have an expensive cup final weekend coming up. Still, it was a poor attendance considering match tickets were reduced to £15 and most Sunderland fans don’t have too far to travel.

    Sunderland made 9 changes, more than Southampton and got through. I cannot for the life of me understand why Southampton would rest key players with no midweek games and two of the top favorites going out in this round. They would have a genuine chance of winning it. Just like if we win tomorrow we have a massive chance of winning it.

  • Alistair formerly of Tanzania

    As Dave Mustaine said back in 1990 “hindsight is always 2020”

    Hopefully we will give a fabulous account of ourselves and let the sands of time wait for no man!

    Arsenal till I die.