Sunday 4 May 2014

We want you (Sagna & Wenger) to stay?

Another semi-slick professional performance, with the occasional sloppy moment, marked the final home game of the season. The question is could it be the last we see of Sagna and Wenger? I wish I knew. I suspect Sagna will be off. Ironically, after the fans began singing 'We want you to stay', he gave the ball straight to the opposition in our own half. Nevertheless, he is a very good right back, and worthy of a top 4 club. However, I can't see him staying. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up at Barcelona; all of our best players and some of those who have more ego than ability end up there! I wish Sagna well. He's been a good and consistent servant to the club, and we should appreciate all that he's given to the Arsenal cause. We've had his best years and another club will still get whatever mileage is left on his clock.

With Wenger, meanwhile, you can't help but feel there is no mileage left. Nevertheless, he still starts up in the morning and does a good job getting us from A to B, or should I say 'fourth'. If that sounds disrespectful, it's unintentional. I'm not that sure I want a change of manager. If Wenger wins the FA Cup I think we should stick with him for one more year; I'm a big believer in 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

Winning the FA Cup is no forgone conclusion, though. This final reminds me of how I felt before the Ipswich final; I couldn't see how we could lose, but lose we did. It was a terrible shock. So shocking that I told Roger Osbourne when I bumped into him that his goal 'ruined my life'! That was a bit extreme, and he's a lovely guy so didn't deserve that. I did shake his hand, though, so I wasn't rude: just eccentric as usual! Not much I can do about that!

There was no chance of West Brom ruining my life today, as we'd already secured 4th spot, thanks to Man City winning at Everton. It was a relaxing day in the sun. Well, that's how it looked when Giroud headed us in front from Cazorla's corner.

West Brom are not quite safe yet, so I expected a backlash; but we were threatened to be masters of our own downfall, as we gave the ball away needlessly. Ozil and Arteta were guilty of that, but there were other slip-ups too.

Despite those negative voices who say the Arteta-Flamini axis doesn't work, we contrived to keep a clean sheet. Therefore, I rest my case. For now.

I was a bit worried about some of the challenges coming in during a full-bloodied encounter. Flamini's ankles were savaged by Sessignon, and my other concern is the accumulation of yellow cards. Nacho Monreal is on 4 booking, so is one away from a suspension. Consequently, I'd leave him out of the Norwich game, just to be on the safe side.

Meanwhile, Podolski clearly is desperate to play in this final, which will be handy if someone else misses out through suspension. I've never seen Pod work that hard before. If he did that all the time, they'd be no question marks about his work rate. On current form, he has to play. Four goals in the last 3 games and it could have been 5 had his miskicked shot gone in off the post today. Poldy is our most clinical finisher, so has to play. It's interesting Wenger hasn't taken him off since Poldy started moaning about being withdrawn before full-time. I saw Poldy going the way of Arshavin, but thankfully that has happened. Wenger clearly respects and/or rates Poldy a lot more than the diminutive but immensely talented Russian, whom I felt was denied freedom of speech at Arsenal.

Anyway, I'd play Poldi in the final. He deserves it. The team fielded today should be good enough to beat Hull, but I hope the Ox is fit enough to take Diaby's place on the bench.

One other player who could be dropped, if he wasn't skipper, is Arteta. I'm a big fan of Arteta, but he's not at his best. I'd choose Flamini instead, if we really intend to go for it against Hull. However, I couldn't swap him for Rosicky: it would have to be the Ox.

The next game sees us take on Norwich, who need a win to survive, but we should have enough to get a result. I'd play a weakened team, but Wenger probably won't. It's important we're in good shape for the final, so I'd start with Sanogo upfront, and throw Shellsuit (Kallstrom) into the fray. I might even put Diaby in, given the result doesn't matter to us that much. Then again, if we lose, it may dent our confidence.

Personally, I think we'll be sharper if we do lose. I'm a little worried we'll underestimate Hull, which would be a huge mistake. If we take them seriously, we should win. If we celebrate fourth too much, we'll come unstuck. It's a simple as that.

Sent from my iPhone

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