|Carlos Vela was close to score against Wigan in quarterfinals.|
After the draw it seems that Arsenal will face Roy Keane´s Ipswich Town in the Carling Cup Semi- Final, whereas West Ham will take on Birmingham City. The first leg will be played at Portman Road and Upton Park on January 10 while Arsenal and Birmingham City will host the second leg games on January 24. Ipswich and Birmingham City have been the last sides to reach the semi- final of this competition after seeing off West Bromwich Albion (1-0) and Aston Villa (2-1) respectively. Before, West Ham bravely thrashed Manchester United after a 4-0 defeat in London and Arsenal did the same winning Wigan 0-2. Some of the other title contenders were kicked out early in the competition: Chelsea lost to Newcastle, Manchester City was defeated by West Bromwich Albion and the most surprising of them all; Liverpool was unable to win against minnows Northampton, who went through at the expense of Roy Hogdson´s side.
Let´s get straight to the point. It´s been almost six years without a trophy at the Emirates. Last time the North- London side won silverware it was the 2004-2005 FA Cup. Since then, more downs than ups, a certain amount of sorrow and just some fleeting moments of joy. Arsene Wenger´s method has come largely under scrutiny. The press branded Arsenal as a naïve and soft team who were far more worried about creating footballers than investing to win titles. Managers such as José Mourinho made fun of Arsenal recalling that the team would always be remembered as one who cared more about playing beautiful football than being competitives and real title contenders. Now seems to be the right moment to break the drought and more trophies could be yet to come. The Carling Cup, a competition despised lately by most of the Premier League big guns, is now Arsenal´s easiest way to win something. And it was precisely in the Carling Cup that Arsenal was this close to win silverware. The Gunners ended runners-up after losing to bitter rivals Chelsea (2-1) in the 2007 final.
Even if it is Ipswich everyone knows that in football there´s no minor rival. However, there will be something playing in Arsenal´s favour: the Semi- Finals are to be played in two games. Clearly, Arsenal has more chances to see off Ipswich in two games. Considerably more if the second game is to be played at the Emirates, which is the case. On the other hand, Arsene Wenger´s side will be carrying all the pressure to beat Ipswich -a Championship club- and book a ticket to the grand finale of Wembley. Whereas, Ipswich Town players find themselves in a rare situation, unexpectedly playing to reach a final they have never dreamed of playing at the beginning of the season. Roy Keane has been handed a second chance to stay in charge as he was rumoured to step aside after a handful of bad results in the Championship. Also, Ipswich´s qualification to semi-finals gives the Irishman a breath of fresh air to face next compromises in the domestic competition.
Now, let´s try to get to the minds of the likes of Nasri, Arshavin, Walcott, Wilshere, Vela, Szczęsny and why not Arsene Wenger too. Arsenal must think about earning their place in the final by beating underdogs Ipswich Town. After that, once in the big game, everything may happen, but Arsenal is the more experienced team and the one with more quality of them all. So, don´t dream more Arsenal, the chance you´ve been waiting the last six years has arrived. Now, just show what this team is really made of. Go Gunners!
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