Often Partisan

What if


It’s almost upon us blues fans, and already the nerves are kicking in. Realistically, having seen Birmingham City tonked by Arsenal at home this season Blues have no chance of winning it – but there is that tiny spark of hope that remains, that keeps saying what if…

What if Seb Larsson is on his game? Arsenal are a bit fidgety around set pieces, and it’s been one of our best methods of scoring this year. Some good deliveries from the Swede into the mixer and we could be in business; for instance Zigic is getting better at peeling off to the back stick to head home. Even if Ziggy doesn’t get his head on it we’ve scored a few after the ball has pinged around like a pinball table in the box. Johnson and Ridgewell both know how to stick a leg out to put it in; if we have Phillips on the field you can’t rule him out and even Jerome was showing us how it was done last season.

What if the Arsenal back four get all shaky around Zigic again? When the lanky Serb plays at the top of his game, like he did against West Ham at home, he’s awesome. He’s a targetman upfield – ping the ball to him on the diagonal and he can either flick it on for his striker partner – or chest it down for someone in midfield to have a dig at. Zigic has a footballing brain, he knows when to lay it off to the side too when the ball is passed on the deck – and like Jerome, he’ll put a shift in and launch into a tackle or two to help the team.

What if Martins shows his promise? When he was running with the ball against Wednesday he showed he’s got the touch; he can shift it from left to right or back again, his low centre of gravity getting him past defenders and we all know he’s got a rocket of a shot on him. If Arsenal are pushed up, Martins (along with Jerome) is a player who can beat a high offside line, and get to a one on one situation with the keeper. The other thing to remember is Martins is one of the few players in the Blues team with the “magic touch” – that little moment of flair or magic that can turn a game. He could be invaluable.

What if Arsenal bottle it? After all, they’ve heavy favourites for this one. Without their talismanic captain Fabregas or the whippet-like Walcott are they going to be a little bit hampered? If Blues get into them and about them, and put a few strong tackles in are they going to be shrinking violets? If the ref doesn’t give the decision when they’re writhing on the floor in fake agony, are they going to be shook up? Mike Dean has booked and sent off more Arsenal players this season than Blues – maybe he’s the ref who can stand up to their tactics.

Whatever happens, I’m there to enjoy it. If we lose, so be it. As long as we’ve tried, and played hard and fair I don’t care. If we win however…

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