Steady those nerves… Big Eared Cup preview

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No denying the importance of tonight’s match, is there?

It is in fact Arsenal’s biggest game since that warm Paris night in May 2006, when we can within a footballing inch of taking home the European Cup for the first time ever.

After defeat that night, the process of dismantling the Invincibles of 2004 continued apace – so much so that only Fabregas and Toure remain from that starting XI, just three years on.

Since then, Wenger has consistently argued that the new side has been building has “massive potential”. But now, even he must realiss that we cannot live off massive potential alone and that it’s time to start achieving.

Tonight would be a good place to start.

Ideally, we’d have gone into tonight with all our best players, but as we know we are missing Clichy, Gallas, Arshavin and van Persie.

The missing defenders are causing us the biggest headaches. You only have to look at the FA Cup semi-final defeat and the 4-4 draw at Anfield to see where the problems lie, and you can bet your house if we defend that badly tonight then it could be messy indeed.

Wenger may throw a curve-ball tonight – perhaps Nasri as a holding player – but I would expect a five-man midfield with Adebayor up front on his own. We need to be protecting that back four for all it’s worth.

Chelsea went for the containment plan last night, and though it wasn’t pretty, it worked. I’m not so sure we are capable of that kind of rearguard action so I expect us to go at Utd a bit more. Besides, it’s the only way we know.

My nerves have been all a-flutter for about a day already and I strongly suspect I will be a quivering wreck by mid afternoon.

But I can’t wait – this is what it’s all about.

Come on your rip-roaring reds…


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.