10 April 2014

Ian Wright: Wigan "can take the scalp"

Ahead of our FA Cup semifinal clash with Wigan, club legend Ian Wright had a few choice words of wisdom. Winner himself of FA Cups in 1993 and 1998, scorer of 185 goals for Arsenal (second only to Henry), MBE, Wright was voted #4 on the list of Arsenal's 50 Greatest Players. Long story, short, he knows of what he speaks, at least when it comes to Arsenal and the FA Cup. There are some who don't know of his exploits, so it's worth taking a minute to remind, if not remember, what he meant and continues to mean. To me, he's a Gunner and always will be. When he talks, I'm inclined to listen. 

He admits that we're a   better team on paper, but, if that's the case, then "Man City would be in the semifinals...Wigan have proven that they can take the scalp." For those struggling to recall, we lost rather infamously to Man City when we went to the Etihad. By comparison, Wigan went in to the same stadium and won. For those inclined towards these kinds of maths, this suggests that Wigan are four goals better than we are (we lost to City by three; they beat City by one; ergo, Wigan=Arsenal+4). For those seeking a more direct warning, it's well-worth remembering that, yes, we did beat Wigan last season 4-1, relegating them in the process. However, that Wigan squad was just three days removed from its epic, historic FA Cup victory over Man City. To suggest there was a hangover might have more than a figurative meaning to it.

As Wright puts it, the FA Cup offers Wigan a "massive, massive carrot," a "massive achievement." Anyone who doubts Wigan's motivation, or who somehow thinks that them being relegated suggests that we can overlook them, hasn't been paying attention. If anything, the pride they claimed by winning the FA Cup, combined with the defiance they'll likely feel after having been relegated by us, should propel them to play with an urgency and intent that we haven't seen since, well, uh, Saturday, when another clu we seem to have underestimated thrashed us. Wigan may not have quite the quality that Everton does, but to again borrow from Wright, the names on the paper matter not a whit. As he puts it, Arsenal are "far away" from where we should be or would like to be and face a "lot of pressure" to win the FA Cup.

In his writing for The Sun, Wright has occasionally been harsh in his assessments of the club, but who among us haven't? Loving the club shouldn't suggest that we accept it as it is, and I'm sure that Wright's comments come from that kind of place: wanting the best for the club. He goes on to assess Özil as well as other needs for the club moving forward, which you can see for yourself in the video above. The man is a legend, which in and of itself does not lend validity to his words (legends can spout nonsense with the best of the nonsense-spouters), but we could do worse than to heed him here.