Saturday’s FA Cup tie between Arsenal and Everton is somewhat of a predicament for me. Naturally, as an Arsenal fan I want Arsenal to win. But on the flip side, with me having a season ticket at Everton and therefore being able to qualify for Wembley tickets when Everton get there, there is the possibility of a glamorous looking trip to Wembley and a weekend in London enticing me- but only if Everton progress.
So either Arsenal go through and no Wembley/London trip OR Everton win and no Arsenal in the cup semis and probably another trophy-less season. Arsenal and Everton getting each other has often been a nightmare of mine in recent years when the cup draws are made. And it’s always been avoided until now. And of all rounds, the quarter finals- the final step before Wembley.
Emotionally it’s an absolute killer for me- it’s win/win but it’s also lose/lose- something great will be lost on Saturday. Either my hopes of an Arsenal cup win or an exciting weekend in London and a trip to the spiritual home of English football.
I want Arsenal to win, but still even then I’d be walking my dogs late Saturday afternoon thinking about how there’s no Wembley trip to look forward to. But I think seeing Arsenal play (and win) there on TV would be good enough for me.
The game itself is interestingly poised- both sides are on indifferent form and their league ambitions are starting to fade a little bit. Arsenal have been stuttering in recent weeks and Everton have been slipping further away from 4th spot. Arsenal also look highly likely to exit the Champions League in a matter of days so for both clubs it’s their biggest chance for success this season.
It’ll be interesting to see what team Arsenal pick- Wenger will have one eye on Bayern on Tuesday but I think he’ll know he can’t afford to rest too many without getting pelters from the fans if we subsequently get knocked out. He surely can’t seriously rest a lot of players for a tie where we look very unlikely to go through. Putting all his eggs in the Bayern basket would be very risky to put it mildly.
Everton however have no midweek distraction and will return to the venue of one of their most tactically astute performances of recent years. A performance which prompted many Arsenal players and fans to claim Everton are the best side we’ve played at the Emirates this season. They also, Jagielka impending, have their strongest lineup available (typically), including a seemingly refreshed and raring to rediscover his early season form Lukaku.
It’s quite finely balanced, a lot depends on how similar Everton’s approach is to the league clash in December and what team Arsenal pick. My prediction is 2-1 to the Arsenal.
Image source: http://metrouk2.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/ay108011637london-england.jpg