Will FA Cup defeat be the end of Arsenal's season?

By Avenell Dave

If you believe what is said in the media or by headline-seeking pundits, some of them former Arsenal players, tomorrow is make or break for the Gunners.

Of the six games starting with the Carling Cup Final that would 'define our season' we have lost two and gone out of two competitions, brushed aside a lower league team and laboured to a draw against a mid-table side who had lost their last four games.

Our key players are continuing to drop like flies and the possible quadruple is now 'just' a double.

Of course, of all the places you want to go when you're without key players and looking to boost confidence, Old Trafford isn't the first that springs to mind.

That said, win this and against West Brom next Saturday and all of a sudden we're in a strong position for both domestic competitions.

The players have a right to feel aggrieved about Tuesday night.

Notwithstanding the referee, the fact that some players such as Cesc Fabregas continued to play when injured and others, notably Tomas Rosicky, looking as if they couldn't be bothered and did little to impose themselves on the game, must be as frustrating to them as it is to us.

Arsene Wenger has said that he will play his strongest side, but we all know the FA Cup does not mean as much to him as the title.

But a morale-boosting win over title rivals would go down well and our nemesis, Nani, will not be available which makes it easier.

Expect another war of attrition with Darren Fletcher and Ji-Sung Park given licence to kick us all over the place.

Who should play in midfield is another tricky one given the absence of two thirds of our first choice midfield three with Alex Song joining Cesc on the sidelines.

I would suggest that Aaron Ramsey starts the game - even though I know Wenger will choose one of his favourites - Abou Diaby or Denilson - neither of whom are good enough.

While he may not be secure defensively, Manu Eboue would be my choice to start because he has energy and hasn't played many games lately, so he will be fresh.

Plenty of people are blaming Nick Bendtner for missing taht chance at the end - and I am certainly not one of his biggest fans.

But the chance came quickly to him and he was under pressure and these things happen. But hopefully it will make him more hungry to make amends on Saturday.

Games against M*nure are never straighforward and we've had some tankings there (6-1, 4-0) while never scoring more than a goal at thier place in goodness knows how long.

So we need to keep it tight and try and hit them on the break and ensure that the season doesn't fall apart.

Will it be disappointing if we don't win and carry on in the FA Cup? Of course it will.

But equally, it won't be the end of our season if we do lose - the title is there for the taking and never have I wanted an international break as much as I do the one coming up after WBA. As long as no more players get injured.

Addict XI


Sagna Koscielny Djourou Clichy

Eboue Wilshere Ramsey

Bendtner RvP Arshavin