Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cardiff awaits for our young guns.

In the end, it all seemed a bit too easy: even after having given Spuds a 2 goal head-start, they still couldn’t progress.

Walking down the Holloway Road, it was quite apparent that this was big game for both clubs. A massive police presence to cope with the notably enlarged away end, showed that the Carling Cup has re-emerged as a trophy that clubs are interested in winning. This might partially be due to our use of exciting young talent, and also due to, until this year, Chel$ea’s monopoly on the Premiership.

On taking my seat, I noticed that only a handful of the season-ticket holders who normally surround me were present. So the crowd was, perhaps, a little like the team: inexperienced at the grove, and definitely very excited. My area, which, it has to be said, is usually quite sedate, was transformed into a veritable cauldron of noise - although the presence of a shrill ten year old behind me was not greatly appreciated.

Even the most myopic of Lily whites would admit that we dominated the game. They had a few chances, but a combination of poor finishing and alert goalkeeping put pay to any idea that they might take the lead. Indeed, had it not been for some clumsy finishing by Adey and Kolo, we would have gone in at half-time ahead.

The goal when it came justified our dominance. Some excellent work by the impressive Rosicky carved out an opening for Adebayor, who finished with wonderful composure. I do actually like the little dance he did with Henry, but I would echo Arsebloggers’ concerns about excluding the rest of the team. But, being Arsenal, nothing is easy. The twelve-year-old behind me had started screaming – literally – about how Almunia should be ‘worried, very worried’ about the free kick that led to the goal. Hopefully next time he’ll have learnt his lesson about the importance of not ‘jinxing it’ in football.

After holding out the Spuds for the last ten minutes, there was only ever going to be one winner in extra-time, with Aliadiere and Rosicky both bagged goals which their performances richly merited.

Onwards to Cardiff then, and the inevitable questions about who will start in the final. Wenger, cleverly, asserted that he would only play those who had been involved in the competition so far, which actually only excludes Henry, Lehmann and Gallas. I’d expect roughly the same line-up as last night to start the final, with an extremely strong bench.

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