Can Arsenal Finally End Four Year Trophy Drought?
The last time Arsenal won anything at all, was a scarcely-deserved penalty-shootout triumph over Manchester United, who have gone on after that to win rather more trophies, and that is an understatement.
The images should still be clear in the minds of Arsenal fans. The commanding figure of Patrick Vieira positioning the ball on the spot, taking a deep breath, and then slamming it into the back of the net to clinch the FA Cup. We did not deserve it, not after registering one shot on target throughout 120 minutes of football. However, the winning mentality came through, and we did it.
Unfortunately, since then, Arsenal have won nothing. The closest we've come was a League Cup Final against Chelsea a couple of years back, and last season's spectacular late-season collapse after starting so well in the league.
So the big question remains. Can Arsenal actually break their long drought and bring back a trophy, any trophy to the Emirates faithful this year?
With Arsenal 10 points off the top in the English Premier League, it is highly unlikely that we will pose any threat. So, the spotlight is firmly focused on the FA Cup, and the UEFA Champions League.
In the FA Cup, Arsenal have a semi-final against the mighty Blues of Chelsea. This will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination. Many might point to Arsenal's impressive 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge for proof of Arsenal's ability to beat Chelsea. However, let's not be fooled by that result. It was achieved without a very important player for the Blues, Didier Drogba.
The Ivory Coast international terrorises defenders across Europe, but he has a real liking for bullying Arsenal centre-backs. He single-handedly won the League Cup for Chelsea with two goals after Theo Walcott had opened the scoring for Arsenal.
In the league, he has scored winners against us on more than one occasion. The problem is, as much as Gallas and Toure are able defenders, they lack the physique that Drogba possesses to challenge him effectively in the air.
For Arsenal to get past Chelsea, they have to look to Arshavin. Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink will know all about the talent of the Russian, and will definitely detail players to mark him tightly. This will play straight into Arsenal's hands, as they can utilise the superior movement of the other players to create problems for Chelsea.
If they do reach the final, Manchester United or Everton await them. Once again, it's not easy. However, Arsenal tend to thrive against teams that attack them. This season our losses have mostly been to teams that defended as if their lives depended on getting a result (Hull, Fulham, Stoke, etc).
Assuming we do get Manchester United in the final, I honestly do fancy our chances. Manchester United are not unbeatable. Should Ferguson play Giggs/Scholes/Neville, then Arsenal will rip them apart with a fast, attacking game. Even one of their best players this season, Nemanja Vidic, has shown in recent matches that he is human after all, and perhaps more crucially, a lack of pace on the turn, something that can be exploited by the likes of Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri.
So that's for the FA Cup. The UEFA Champions League is no easier. First up, we face Villarreal. Arguably, this is an easy tie, as Villarreal are one of the weakest teams left in the competition. With crafty players such as Santi Cazorla, Robert Pires, Nihat Kahveci, and Giuseppe Rossi in the side, one can never rule them out though. Nevertheless, I am confident we will overcome the Spanish obstacle.
It is in the semi-finals where we face Manchester United or Porto. As mentioned above, I do fancy Arsenal to pip Manchester United should it come down to this. And if we actually face Porto, I'm supremely confident that they will not pose us any problems whatsoever.
In the finals, if we can get there, we will face Barcelona/Bayern/Chelsea/Liverpool. None are easy, but I think having got to the final, we should fancy our chances. With Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott back, who's to say Arsenal can't do it?
I have a feeling this is going to be a special season for Arsenal fans. I hope it's not just the Arsenal fan in me speaking.
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