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All Guns Blazing: Arsenal’s FA Cup anticipation is a double-edged sword

Arsenal's Bacary Sagna (left) and Jack Wilshere on the pitch after the final whistle Arsenal's Bacary Sagna (left) and Jack Wilshere on the pitch after the final whistle

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
2:56 PM

Arsenal supporter Alex Bellotti looks towards the FA Cup final and says goodbye to Bacary Sagna in our weekly fan column

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Thanks to Man City’s despatching of Everton on Saturday evening, Arsenal’s game against West Brom was the sort of carefree lunchtime jaunt I can’t remember experiencing for some time.

While every one of us would switch it for the unbearable intensity of still competing for the title, it made a nice change from our previous two seasons, which have seen tense last day shoot-outs with Tottenham for that much-vaunted Champions League spot.

The game itself was played at a saunter and all minds were clearly already turned to Wembley. It’s been nice again to hear those lovely lines of She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and even Jack Wilshere joined in the fun as his toddler came out wearing said accessory for their post-match lap of appreciation.

Yet, as we all know from Liverpool’s utterly hilarious capitulation against Crystal Palace on Monday – Luis Suarez has never been so watchable – if there’s one polar opposite to the euphoria of winning, it’s the humiliation of watching fans of other clubs laughing in your bleary-eyed face. Because of Arsenal’s well-publicised trophy drought, the potential decibels of such laughter will be enough to break the windows of every house around Islington if we lose the final.

Arsenal’s capacity for disaster is worryingly large and given our recent record, Arsene Wenger’s rather self-assured promise that he will sign a new contract seems potentially premature.

Like many, my standpoint on his future is rather torn, but should the FA Cup slip away from us, the climate amongst Gooners will surely make it very difficult for him to follow through on his promise without a major backlash. Let’s just hope that scenario never materialises.

Finally, a word for Bacary Sagna, whose appearance on Sunday looked to be his last at the Emirates. Much like his career in the famous red and white, his goodbye was understated and professional, but I struggle to think of a single right-back in the league who has been as consistently effective over the last seven years.

In an age where it’s become the vogue for full-backs to mask their defensive inefficiencies with pacy, attacking instincts, his ability to combine both arts to a high level really does make him difficult to replace. While it would be a shame to see him at a Premier League rival, such has been his prior commitment to the Gunners that you couldn’t even begrudge him then. Goodbye Bacary and good luck.

Follow me @AlexBellotti

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