Arsenal boss, Arsène Wenger, will demand a response from his troops when they meet Liverpool in the FA Cup later today following a 5-1 mauling in the Premier League meeting last weekend. Liverpool outclassed the Gunners at Anfield with a brace each from Martin Škrtel and Raheem Sterling and one from Daniel Sturridge. A penalty from Spaniard Mikel Arteta provided a consolation goal for Wenger’s team.
The fifth round clash at The Emirates has taken on new importance following last weekend’s drubbing because not only will Arsenal seek revenge, but many see this as the London side’s only real chance of silverware this season. Despite being among the pace-setters at the Premier League summit, a dip in form combined with what is being perceived as an inferior squad, appear to give the edge to fellow title contenders Chelsea and Manchester City. Liverpool have recently re-entered the race as a dark horse, but the bookmakers are looking no further than Chelsea and City.
Even Wenger admitted the manner of the defeat posed questions about his side’s title credentials and the Arsenal boss will demand a response from his troops when they meet Liverpool in the FA Cup. Failure to progress will leave the Gunners almost reliant on beating defending champions Bayern Munich in the Champions League next week. It seems clear that this is a season-defining week. The Frenchman has not won a trophy at Arsenal since his side beat Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup final on penalties; a game United dominated from start to finish.
Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, stoked the flames with respect to Wenger’s poor run this week. When Wenger claimed that Mourinho played down his own side’s chances of winning the title because of a “fear of failure,” the Portuguese pointed to the fact his rival had not won a cup in 8 years, and described Wenger as a “specialist in failure.” The comments prompted outrage from some sections of the game, with ex-England striker and BBC presenter Gary Lineker accusing Mourinho of going to far.
Liverpool, on the other hand, are going though a purple patch. Having fallen away in the title race in the last few months, Brendan Rodgers’ side have put together a string of good results, the most notable being a strong comeback at Fulham to win 3-2, plus the demolition of Arsenal.
Now that Chelsea are out of the tournament following defeat against City on Saturday, whoever wins the today’s clash at The Emirates will fancy their chances of going all the way, provided they can avoid City on the way to Wembley.
For Arsenal, today is a massive game, as it gives them a chance to show last weekend was a blip on what has been a decent season to date. Nobody expected them to be in the title race come the business end of the season, yet they have managed to challenge with some aplomb.
Arsenal boss. Wenger. will demand a response from his troops when they meet Liverpool in the FA Cup because failure to progress could mean curtains for the season. The only way they can avoid that is to overtake their much-fancied title rivals and beat Pep Guardiola’s Munich.
By Robert Shepherd