Date: 24th January 2011 at 11:57pm
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Ipswich Town took one small step towards Wembley in their Carling Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg win over Arsenal, but Jewell’s stars must shine again on Tuesday to make a giant-killing leap.

Ipswich take a precious one goal lead on their first-ever voyage to the Emirates Stadium. Tamas Priskin’s 78th minute strike at Portman Road evoked memories of Roger Osborne as Town secured a famous win over the Gunners, but they remain light years from Wembley. Despite 3 previous semi-final appearances, further progress in this competition is unchartered territory for the Blues. Achieving that this time would be a major shock, not least because Ipswich have been far from their best this season. After the triumph over Arsenal, Town were brought back down to Earth in the league with a defeat at Millwall before Saturday’s win over Doncaster Rovers (AKA the ‘Arsenal of the Championship’). Whilst they continue to struggle against the black hole of relegation from the Championship, the prospect of reaching a League Cup final seems almost alien.

Of course, it is no such thing for the opposition. It was Arsenal but not as we know it in the 1st Leg; Arsene Wenger’s side were far from ‘Galacticos’ at Portman Road, but after that warning shot from the Blues, the red giants will be determined to put things right. Having seen them underperform away from home, Arsene Wenger will be confident of getting his stars shooting again at the Emirates, especially if the likes of Robin Van Persie and Samir Nasri are involved. If we are not to see the Blues dwarfed by such prolific performers, Paul Jewell and his cadets will likely have to put on a show that is truly out of this world. If they do, they might boldly go where they have never gone before.

Seeing Ipswich in the final might seem the stuff of dreams right now, but you know the old song – ‘When you wish upon a star…’

Arsenal v Ipswich is live on BBC2 and BBC Radio 5 Live from 19:30.

Vital Quotes:


Plenty of people have been having their say ahead of what is surely Ipswich Town’s biggest match of the season so far. Firstly Ipswich manager Paul Jewell has called for his players to give it their all at the Emirates on Tuesday if they are to overcome their status as underdogs.

‘We are massive underdogs,’ Jewell told the BBC. ‘But you need a lot of belief, energy and desire and a bit of luck.’

‘If the players give everything they have got and try and do what I’m getting them to do, I can’t ask any more than that. I’ll tell them to go out and enjoy it and give the supporters something to cheer about.’

(Please do, lads!)

As soon as Tamas Priskin gave Ipswich their vital 1-0 lead in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final, comparisons were being drawn straight away with Roger Osborne scoring against Arsenal to lead Town to their famous 1978 FA Cup triumph. Reflecting upon that achievement, the retired Town legend has now called for someone to step up and follow in his footsteps by writing their name in Ipswich folklore.

‘It’ll be a magnificent night if Ipswich go through tomorrow – as much for the supporters as for the players,’ Osborne told the East Anglian press. ‘I’d love a new hero to emerge and score an Ipswich winner at Wembley.’

‘Compared to when we played Arsenal in 1978 there is a quite a big gap between the teams now. But if someone takes a chance when it comes it could be a night to remember. I hope so.’

Meanwhile Arsene Wenger has been trying to avoid looking back at history. His Arsenal team were knocked out at the semi-final stage in 2006 after conceding a decisive away goal at the Emirates Stadium. The opposition on that occasion were Wigan Athletic – managed by none other than current Ipswich boss Paul Jewell – but Wenger has dismissed any suggestion of a repeat on Tuesday.

‘The history does not play tomorrow [Tuesday],’ Wenger told Arsenal.com; ‘what plays tomorrow is the players on the pitch and the quality of our game is important. That is what we want to focus on.’

‘We play against Ipswich, we don’t play against Paul Jewell, so we want to find a way to score goals and we want to find a way to win the game.’

Meanwhile following Ipswich’s victory in the first leg, Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas caused some controversy when he likened Town’s tactics to playing rugby. Tamas Priskin’s goal came from one of several long balls forward during the second half; an approach which frustrated the Gunners and evidently did not impress their captain.

‘I don’t know if it is long ball or it is a rugby kick but it worked for them,’ Fabregas said in comments quoted by The Guardian amongst many others. ‘In England, a lot of teams play like that and it works for them, they create chances like that and it is their football. We just have to put the ball on the floor and try to play football.’

‘Credit to them [Ipswich] because they played well but Arsenal played the football, the other team refused to play football, they were lucky to score with a long ball.’

Understandably the comments didn’t go down too well with Ipswich fans, or indeed Arsenal fans who were not impressed by Fabregas making excuses for the Gunners’ failure to deal with Town’s tactics. Such excuses will not go down well if Arsenal fail to perform at the Emirates on Tuesday. After all, if you’re one of the best footballing sides in the country, surely you should beat a bunch of rugby players…?

Arsenal Team News:


With no fresh injury concerns, Arsene Wenger simply has to decide what sort of lineup he wants to use against Ipswich. The lineup that lost at Portman Road was by no means weak with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Andrei Arshavin and Theo Walcott included, but more of the big guns may make an appearance on Tuesday. Samir Nasri has overcome a knock picked up in the win over Wigan on Saturday as have Fabregas and Walcott, whilst hat-trick hero Robin Van Persie is also available. However, Sebastien Squillaci remains sidelined with a hamstring injury while Abou Diaby is still out with a calf problem. Tomas Rosicky is also set to miss the tie through illness, but Johan Djourou should be fit.

Player to watch: Samir Nasri


After the embarrassment of the first leg, it would be no surprise if Arsene Wenger were to employ a tougher lineup for the second leg at the Emirates. That could potentially mean an appearance for Samir Nasri, who was left out for the trip to Portman Road. Since signing from Marseille in August 2008, the French international has become one of the biggest stars in Wenger’s side, offering creative drive as well as having a fierce shot in his locker. With Robin Van Persie struggling with injuries, Nasri has established himself as the Gunners’ top scorer this season with 14 goals in all competitions, including 2 in the League Cup. His most recent goal came less than a week ago as he opened the scoring to send the Gunners on their way to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Leeds United in the FA Cup. With any luck Town might be able to take inspiration from the manner in which Leeds held Arsenal to a draw at the Emirates; if not, we can only hope that Nasri won’t have the same impact on this rematch – or better yet, hopefully he won’t play at all…!

Ipswich Town Team News:


Ipswich Town boss Paul Jewell has revealed that he has already picked his side for the Arsenal game, but whether he will make many changes from the team that won over Doncaster Rovers on Saturday remains to be seen. One change he will have to make is Lee Martin, who is cup-tied having already played in the competition whilst on loan at Charlton. Colin Healy is a slight doubt but should be fit, otherwise there are no new injury concerns with Brian Murphy and Alan Quinn the only remaining long-term absentees for the Blues.

Player to watch: Connor Wickham


We previously named Connor Wickham as our Man to Watch for the game against Doncaster, in which the 17-year-old striker subsequently found his first goal of the season. That will have been a major confidence booster for the teenager, who had committed himself to Ipswich the day before by signing a new contract until 2013. That will come as a major relief to fans and indeed to Paul Jewell, who watched Wickham’s performance against Arsenal in the first leg. The England U21 International was one of the Blues’ best performers that night, impressing both home and away fans with his determination and stamina as he worked tirelessly both in attack and defence for the full 90 minutes. It is small wonder that he has been so frequently linked with a move to Arsenal amongst various other teams, but whether or not he will ever end up playing for them in future, let’s hope Town’s starlet makes a big impression at the Emirates in blue and white.

Last Meeting


CCS1 – Ipswich 1-0 Arsenal
12 January 2011

(Click here for Match Report)

Goalscorers
Ipswich: Priskin 78

Teams:
Ipswich: Fulop, Peters, McAuley, Delaney, O’Dea, Edwards, Norris, Healy, Kennedy, Wickham, Priskin (Murray 90)

Arsenal: Szczesny, Koscielny, Djourou, Eboue, Gibbs, Fabregas, Walcott, Denilson, Wilshere (A Song 68), Arshavin (Vela 80), Bendtner (Chamakh 68)

Match Prediction:


‘This is the end… my only friend, the end…’

Well, I’m trying to not get my hopes up! I’ve been fortunate enough to get a ticket for the match so, like Town, I will also be making my first ever trip to the Emirates Stadium. Having been limited to watching that incredible first leg on TV, I’m hoping that this time I can be there to see us making history.

Unfortunately, what I actually suspect will happen is our precious one goal lead will probably be snuffed out within the first half hour! I’d be somewhat surprised if Arsenal haven’t gotten a 2-0 lead by half time, and they’ll probably win the tie comfortably in the end. Hopefully I’m wrong, but in any case, I’m just hoping to see us make a contest of it rather than tamely submitting after all our hard work to get this far. In the end, Arsenal expect to win whilst a loss is a disaster. For us, a loss would not be the end of the world, but to win would be the stuff dreams are made of. Whatever happens though, you can’t deny – with all the frustration of another failing Championship campaign, a quick humiliation in the FA Cup and not much left to look forward to, this Carling Cup run has been one hell of a ride.

Good luck, Town.

Prediction: A truly valiant effort to traverse the Road to Wembley, but alas, they shall fall at the final hurdle. Arsenal 3-0 Ipswich.

Next Fixtures:


01/02 FLC Derby (A)

05/02 FLC Sheffield United (H)

12/02 FLC Barnsley (A)


For more build-up to the big match, why not take a look at our interview with Vital Arsenal in ‘From the Other Side‘.

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