Well that was a bit of a shock. Arsenal have made life difficult for themselves in the second leg of their Carling Cup semi final and they will need to turn up properly next time, to say the least.
I think most fans would have been guilty of thinking a little far ahead in the last round after Man United were knocked out by West Ham: ‘This should be ours for the taking’, they would have said. A classic mistake.
The young Arsenal team were taught a lesson about commitment by Ipswich Town at a packed and jumping Portman Road. It seemed plausible they were thinking their place in the final would be assured and they need only to turn up. Wrong.
The Tractor Boys had other ideas however; they grew as the game went on and, with just over ten minutes to go, they capitalised on Arsenal’s growing complacency as Tamas Priskin broke (with a hint of offside) onto a loose ball and calmly stroked the ball into the corner.
This wasn’t Ipswich’s only chance either; both Priskin and Carlos Edwards were guilty of missing other good opportunities. The only real positive Arsenal can take from this is that they are only one goal down and should still have what it takes to get to the final.
This result should at least serve as a wake-up call for the Premier League side as they produced an abject performance plagued by complacency and littered with silly mistakes. It doesn’t get much lower than this.
In the same instance, it doesn’t get much higher than this for Ipswich Town, who gave themselves a welcome boost after weeks of off-pitch drama and nightmare form on the pitch. A bit of cup magic (yes, I said cup magic) never did anyone any harm.
Actually, that’s not strictly true – cup magic has proved to be a bit of a hindrance on the league form of some lower league sides in the past. Leeds’ run last year comes to mind and Arsenal were given a first scare by the Yorkshire team on Saturday in a not too dissimilar performance at the Emirates.
As people endlessly say, winning the Carling Cup was the springboard of the Mourinho era at Chelsea and would be some welcome respite for a team with five and a half years of failed expectations hanging over them.
Strike one was on Saturday, this was strike two, but it is three strikes before you’re out and Arsenal have one more life to redeem themselves.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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