One big performance can earn Arsenal the ticket to Wembley for yet another final appearance that might be more cherished than previous ones due to the events of the past few years.
Ipswich Town bring a 1 – 0 lead to the Emirates. We can be sure the Tractor will be well anchored in front of their goal. And judging by their performance in the first game it’ll be a solid one that will prove difficult to break down. But the way to Wembley for Arsenal will go through that Tractor and the Gunners will have to prove themselves once again. All this, while hoping they don’t get ploughed at the back on a counter-attack.
Tactically speaking there won’t be many surprises in this game. A lot will depend on the performances of individuals chosen by both managers.
The timing of the first goal will be of utmost importance. If Arsenal can get one early the pressure will ease. That’s not to say that the Gunners can take it easy after the first goal. That will be suicide. But if the visitors can hold fort and go in level at half time they’ll genuinely believe they can get through.
Of course, there is a remote possibility of Arsenal conceding the first goal but I’m not sure if even Ipswich fans realistically believe in that. Interestingly though, in the last 7 games Arsenal have conceded 3 goals and all three have been scored by Championship sides!
In any case, I feel Arsenal will have to score 3 goals in this game. Given the result in the first leg, 1 goal won’t be enough while 2 – 0 will be an extremely risky score. Considering these issues I hope Arsenal concede early if they’re to concede at all.
I feel the game will boil down to the speed of Arsenal’s passing, the quality of movement and finishing, and the stifling ability of their pressing. The opponents will bring meticulous organization, unflinching tackles, and an adrenalin inspired work rate to the table. Ultimately, the side which can impose its style more effectively will head to Wembley.
Obviously, the starting eleven that Arsene picks will be critical. He cannot afford to make 8 or 9 changes. And based on his recent comments it seems Le Boss knows he needs a very strong team. I would be happy with four changes to the side that dispatched Wigan so ruthlessly.
I’d not want to start RvP against a side that might be a little agricultural in their approach. Also considering the fact that Ipswich might defend really deep I’m not sure Theo will be able to make a big impact against them. In the midfield Song could do with a breather considering the hectic schedule coming up in February wherein all the games are tough. In the back five I’d not mind giving Gibbs another game while resting Clichy.
Then comes the issues of picking the starters. Chamakh would come in for RvP, Arshavin or Bendtner could fill in for Theo, and Denilson for Song. I’m not sure if Arshavin has the form to start right now so I’d go with Bendtner on the left and Nasri on the right. The Dane has the ability to cut in from that side and has already scored some curlers this season.
My starting eleven would look like,
Szczesny – Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Gibbs – Denilson, Cesc, Wilshere – Nasri, Chamakh, Bendtner.
Arsene might even pick Eboue ahead of Sagna but that’ll make me very nervous.
I think this team is good enough to get the desired result but Wenger will have to be decisive with his substitutions. He cannot wait till 70 minutes if Arsenal concede a goal or have failed to score in the first half.
I have a feeling this one won’t be a comfortable game and will go down to the wire. As I’ve said in the past, I’ll be satisfied with a quality performance irrespective of the result.