I admit to being a little baffled by Wenger’s words on our five-year trophy drought:
“There is as well a lot of demands from people who know you are at the top and they try always to find your weakness… They try to exploit that [we haven’t won anything] and I believe you have take a distance from that”
I sort of understand what he means here, but surely we can only be considered to be “at the top” if we have won something? Open to interpretation, I suppose.
Either way, whether it’s down to weight of outside expectations or a realignment of his own thinking, Wenger’s confirmation at last week’s AGM that we are going to give it all in pursuit of both the League and FA Cups fills this old traditionalist with much happiness.
There are so many reasons why this is the right approach this season that it feels almost idiotic to list them. But I’m going to list some of them. In no particular order of importance:
Why would you not give it your all to win an available trophy? When fans mock other fans for their team having ‘no history’ (in itself another blog post – the only teams that have no history are yet to be started up, but there you go), they are talking about how many trophies that side has or hasn’t won. The last time I looked, the little roll of honour you see in the programme didn’t list how many times we had come fourth. The bottom line is trophies.
This header holds more true, of course, for the FA Cup than the Carling. I am strongly against any dilution of the importance of the FA Cup, but understand why over the years we have taken a more youthful approach in the League.
Winning breeds winning I happen to believe this is true. The longer a trophy eludes you, the harder it can become. The experience of winning makes it easier to win again. Things are somewhat muddied in our squad with Cesc Fabregas being the current owner of both a World Cup and European Championships medal, but domestically, how many of this indubitably talented squad has a medal? Off the top of my head, only Clichy has a league winner’s medal, with Fabregas, van Persie and Almunia the only ones to have an FA Cup winner’s medal.
The FA and League Cups are less predictable The Champions League has the glamour and the money, and come the knockout stages there’s nothing quite like it, but how many people have whipped themselves into a frenzy in recent years at the group stages? We’ve had straightforward draws for a good five years now and the whole group stage is weighted in favour of the big clubs getting through. Only when it turns into a knockout does it become the marvellous, unbeatable European Cup of old. I love the random nature of domestic cup draws and I love that you can be taken to replays. I used to love neutral semi-finals too, until the moneymen ruined it by having them all at Wembley.
We have a bigger, more experienced squad. One of the principal reasons for not going hell for leather on all four fronts is fatigue. It is a matter of overstretching your resources. It’s almost impossible to win all the trophies you go for, not least because three of them are decided in knockout format and therefore contain a higher element of luck. However, you can go on for ever and ever prioritising the league and European Cups only to not win them – they are the two hardest competitions. This season, our squad has another year of experience under its belt and is big enough to cope. I’m sure this is one of the reasons Wenger has changed his League Cup approach a bit.
You never get tired of cup finals. No need to elaborate on this point.
So there we are. Tonight we are at Newcastle, and we should see the likes of Gibbs, Walcott, Koscielny, Bendtner, Denilson, Vela and possibly Rosicky in the mix with some of the fringe players. A decent combination of youth and experience.
Should be a cracker.