21st May 2005, was the last time Arsenal won a trophy, nearly six years ago. It is a long time without silverware for one of England’s most successful clubs. In that time Arsenal fans have watched Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and fierce rivals Tottenham all win trophies.
In what has been a very unusual Premier League season Arsenal have their best chance since the ‘invincible’ season of 2003-04 to win the championship. An excellent performance against Barcelona, in which they rode their luck a little, has given Arsenal a decent chance at knocking out a team acclaimed as the best on the planet. Things are looking good for Arsenal, and to cap it off, this Sunday they have an opportunity to end their trophy less run.
A win against Birmingham City could provide a momentum boost that could spur Arsenal onto a season of success, that few would have predicted. Although the Arsenal team has its faults, particularly in central defense, there is a feeling that Arsene Wenger finally has a squad to challenge, his cause is greatly aided by Robin Van Persie hitting top form at this crucial stage of the season. Recent injuries to Walcott and Fabregas may hinder them, but they now seem to have players ready to step in and fill the gap. If Arsenal can overcome Birmingham on Sunday, and London rivals, Chelsea, succeed in securing a draw or maybe, given their form, an improbable win Arsenal could find themselves within 3 points of Manchester United, with just over ten games to play and a cup already in the bag.
However, Football is a cruel mistress and it is crucial Arsenal take Birmingham seriously. They are a side in decent form having won three of their last four, and in Nikola Zigic, they possess a man in form, capable of unsettling Arsenal’s, at times ,fragile defense. The Blues also have two former Arsenal players, Alexandre Hleb and David Bentley who can provide ammunition for the giant Serbian.
Arsene Wenger has often exhibited a tendency to play weakened sides in cup games even against strong opposition. If Arsenal were to lose on Sunday, the rosy picture that surrounds the club could begin to dissipate. Especially if Manchester United sweep aside Chelsea, and things go badly at the Camp Nou a week next Tuesday.
Football can change quickly, at the moment have Arsenal the wind behind them, they must seize it by playing their strongest XI and beating Birmingham. If they play a weakened side, lose, and events in the coming weeks go badly for them, they could still end up trophy less come May. Many Arsenal fans fail to understand Wenger’s attitude to domestic cup competitions, if they play a weakened side and lose the cup, and the potential impetus it would give their season, would they forgive him?
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