Today Arsenal have to travel down the road to face non-League side Sutton United, which may look like an easy tie on paper, but after seeing another non-league side, Lincoln, knock out Burnley on Saturday, we can not take an easy win for granted. The FA Cup is littered with giant-killings over the years, and it is worth remembering that Sutton beat Leeds United in the last round, and that is all part of the magic of the competition, as long as it doesn’t happen to your team!
Our opponents had an option to make more money by playing the game at a different venue, but gamely decided to force Arsenal to come to their 5000 capacity stadium to play on an artificial surface, which is the biggest danger to Arsenal coming through the game unscathed. Arsene Wenger has bravely pinpointed the three big problems he can see ahead of the game. “First of all the pitch.” Wenger said. “Secondly their enthusiasm, and thirdly that we are not ready for a big fight and subconsciously think that they are a non-league team and it is no matter – but that will not happen.
“Ideally, we would like to play on a normal pitch but it has been accepted and the competition is to deal with what you face. We will face an unusual pitch and we will have to deal with it.
“We will practise inside because it is an artificial pitch. It is not the same because it is a dry pitch and Sutton I have heard have a wet pitch which they water before the game and is quicker.
“The weight on the joints is different and you cannot slide to block every time so it makes football a bit different. The ball comes to you suddenly and accelerates and does not slow down like in a normal game, so we have to get used to the different speed.”
I personally have played on one of these pitches and I assure you it is completely different to playing on grass, and it gives a huge advantage to the team that is used to the surface. This is a huge worry for Wenger, who can hardly afford to lose another important game after seeing the Gunners defeated in three of their last four outings already. The fans are obviously disgruntled and that will only get worse if we don’t win this one. All the talk on social media is about how unhappy the fans are when Arsenal lose, but how many of us consider the effect that it has on our manager?
This is what he feels about losing: “I am a positive person. I am a fighter, somewhere. You don’t stay so long in this job otherwise,” he said.
“I’ve always seen the future in a positive way. I do not expect too much from outside, I expect more from me inside. The expectation level gets higher.
“The fight doesn’t get higher. The fight is always tough. When you hate defeat like I hate defeat, it’s always tough. As well, I’m determined to always fight back.
“I can never transmit to you my feelings about defeats. A player when I managed for the first time at 33 or 34 said that after our first defeat I threw up. Whether you are young or old, every defeat hurts.”
So no matter how upset you are after a game, maybe we should spare a thought for how Wenger feels, and even the players. Do you think they like coming off the field after being beaten? I know Alexis hates it!