12 April 2014

Who will win at Wembley? "Wigan," says alliteration.

Here we are. Hours from kick-off, and the anticipation is growing. Is it at a fever pitch yet? Little bit, yes. Will we need a performance of top, top quality? We will see. We are all a little bit nervous, I am sure, but I am sure the players will be up for it. There is a little bit speculation about where I will go if we lose, but footballistically, it is not a crystal ball that tells me. I don't know about that, then. You ask if this is our last chance to win a trophy this season? I thank you very much for that question. It's a long time that we didn't answer it. You accuse me of not taking seriously the FA Cup in the past. I have won four times the FA Cup. Who was won it more? Give me one name. Whoat is this? George Ramsey? Okay, I agree a little bit that six is more than four. I believe so is five more than four. My point is this: numbers are useful for enumeration and this is why we must have more goals than Wigan.

Okay, enough fun. I, like many of you, am on pins and needles ahead of this match, now barely two hours away as I type. The stakes feel like they couldn't be higher. Win, and we take another step towards ending a trophy-drought that spans longer than the lifetimes of many Gooners (a reference to youth, not faith) and another step towards restoring some confidence, if not swagger, for the run-in and towards next season. It's been a season full of promise and magnficient moments, and so it would feel like a cruel hoax to crash out of the Cup at this stage. Six weeks ago, we heaved a sigh of relief at Wigan's win over Man City. Times have certainly changed.

However, I have a good feeling about this, and it comes from more than the usual, blinkered optimism I'm frequently so guilty of. I suspect that we've all suffered a serious bout of pessimism in the last few weeks, and seeing the world through those lenses has convinced us that all is lost, the plane is on fire, the sink is shipping. Elsewhere, guts are expanding and hairlines are receding. In other words, our youth is slipping away like so many grains of sand, and a life that was once so full of promise and potential, one in which we dared to dream, now lies crumbling in the dusts of time. Try as we might, we cannot put the pieces back together because, no matter how quickly we move, the pieces fall to dust and ash before our very eyes and...

Sorry. Needed another cup of coffee there.

Let's set aside the gloom and the doom. If we need it later, we'll certainly know where to find it. Like as not, it will find us when if the occasion arises. As we all well know, it's scientific fact that the attitude of the fans transmutes itself, osmotically, to the players on the pitch, so summon up your deepest chanty voices and channel all of your energies into this match. We're going to Wembley, for Pete's sake, and our lads need us to be at our best. Get out your lucky underwear and your favorite kit, 'cuz we got a match to win. Doubters, pessimists, and malcontents, either cram it with walnuts or get on the trolley. Get behind the club you love and infuse it with the passion and pride it inspires! Game on!