The league cup final, Wembley Stadium, Sunday 25th February, 2018 – the day that hopefully kick starts one final push for Europa League glory and a top four place.
Arsenal’s last league cup final appearance was certainly not one to remember with a huge slip up against a not-so favoured, relegation-threatened Birmingham City – an embarassment some Arsenal players never really recovered from. However, seven years later and our current cup record at the home of English football is an impressive nine wins from nine games dating back to that misrable afternoon in 2011, with the only hiccup being last month’s league loss to Tottenham. And in stark contrast to popular belief, Arsenal have only lost two of the last ten meetings with Manchester City in all competitions, a record that should fill both us fans and the players with confidence. The Citizens’ defence is there to be got at (as Wigan have recently proved) but ours is too, so perhaps we’re in for a real goalscoring treat.
Aguero and Aubameyang, two of the world’s deadliest strikers, have the vast Wembley pitch at their beckoning. Arsenal have been shipping goals since Christmas and have found it difficult to really keep teams out whilst pressing and creating going forward. But now the debacle of red or white shorts and socks is out the way, the talking can stop and besides a 2nd string game against Osterdunds in the EL tomorrow, the action can almost begin.
A win against the Champions elect would be oh so welcome and would set up the run-in with renewed optimism. Although winning the league cup may seem a bit of a side show in a generally disappointing season on the pitch so far, the consequences of gaining confidence and stringing together some wins could be unprecedented. Building confidence off the back of big, winning performances will set us up extremely well for a deep EL run, hopefully culminating in a winning appearance in Lyon on May 16th. A league cup final win is the first piece to the puzzle to close out the 2017-18 season; grab a trophy, beat a big fish in doing so, build confidence and go on a winning run. This will set the perfect platform for winning the EL and qualifying for next seasons Champions League. A feat that will enable the club to attract big transfer targets to mount a real push next season, regardless of who’s in the manager’s seat. Time for Ozil and Aubameyang to step up, time for Jack to really set the tone, and time for Koscielny to really lead that back line – time for another Arsenal trophy.
So Wembley, we’re coming home for another party…please don’t disappoint!