This FA Cup is a bit of a double edge sword for Arsenal fans. It represents one of our best chances to earn silverware for the first time in 9 years and it also represents the last piece of silverware we won, which is surely collecting dust in the ever spacious trophy cabinet at the Emirates Stadium. No one feels the pressure to deliver more than Arsene Wenger. After the many years without trophies, the longest standing manager in the Premier League is constantly under pressure to deliver a trophy. It is the ever present monkey on his back. While he deals with the pressure ever so gracefully, you have to expect the underneath he’s running at a mile a minute.
The beauty and ugliness of tournament games is that you win or go home. Glory or shame. There is no real grey area. Games like this desire strong leadership, experience, and a touch of class from time to time. We will need our stars to step up to the plate this game. We will need the likes of Ozil, Giroud, and Cazorla to lead the way in attack. We will need to steady calm and dominating presence of Mertesacker and Koscielny to steady the defense at its most vulnerable time. Our style of play always gives us a chance to win, but it is our individual stars who’s talent must pull us through.
Everton are no slouch. Under Roberto Martinez Everton have been a revelation this year. Yes, Moyes has had them in a similar spot in the table, but its their style of play that has taken a step forward. They can play the possession game and can counter just as well. They have real talent with the likes of Leighton Banes and young Ross Barkley who’s been outstanding this season. Oh, and with Lukaku returning to his scoring ways last week, they have the leader in attack they so desperately need.
Unfortunately, Arsenal have been hit with the injury bug as of late and are missing some men in key positions, but the beauty of our squad is that there is always going to be quality on the pitch. In tournament games, you need to take a positive approach and put emphasis on attack. Ozil will have a real chance to silence his critics. He didn’t have much of a chance to do that last week at Stoke, however in his international friendly against Chile this week he provided the only assist of the game. Hopefully, this can spring board him into becoming a real influence on the pitch again.
Santi Cazorla is always a maestro on the ball. Always making good decisions and never really giving the ball away, but my hope is he will be more of a driving force in attack and will take chances going forward. The man can shoot, dribble, and cross equally well with both feet but its up to him to use this talent to provide goals in the big games. Giroud always has the potential to score goals or provide assists. Having missed out on the Liverpool game, I would think he’ll be chomping at the bit to get on the field and provide a quality performance.
Knowing Everton will play just as positively as Arsenal, its important that we are organized at the back and don’t make any silly errors that will kill the momentum of the game. There can be no room for error. Koscielny and Mertesacker have been rock solid most of this year and will need a quality performance if they are to shut Everton out. Mertesacker has been our leader on and off the pitch this year. His calm yet demanding approach has worked wonders for our defense this year. That combined with Koscielny’s freakish athleticism and fine-tuned aggression has made the pair a force to be reckoned with, but as pressure builds for a trophy, so must their solidarity.
My hope is we can keep the ball for the majority of the game. Just like when we played Bayern Munich, we need to come out swinging looking to land the opening punch and take them out of their game. If our stars can step up and give the world class performances they are capable of, we will be one step closer to finally ending our trophy drought, and the cabinet keeper at the Emirates can finally throwing away his/her dust pan from 2005.