Date: 23rd January 2011 at 10:48pm
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From The Other Side returns as we chat to Vital Arsenal ahead of Ipswich Town’s first-ever visit to the Emirates Stadium in Tuesday’s Carling Cup Semi-Final.

It’s Arsenal v Ipswich Town in the Carling Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg on Tuesday night, so Vital Ipswich decided to get a few thoughts ahead of the big match from our colleagues at Vital Arsenal. So here’s the scoop on our opponents From The Other Side:

Vital Ipswich: Here we are in 2011 then. What are Arsenal looking to achieve for the rest of this season? Time for some silverware, presumably? (*wink wink*)

Vital Arsenal: I think we should definitely be looking to overturn the 1-0 deficit in our tie and go on to win the Carling Cup. We’ve got Huddersfield at home in the FA Cup which is more than winnable so we should be progressing well in that too, and we’re pretty well positioned in the League. We should be much better off but we’ve given away many silly points against the likes of Spurs, Sunderland, Wigan etc., etc….

As for the Champions League… well we’ve got Barcelona in the next match so that should be an easy route to the quarter finals…(!)

Vital Ipswich: Every now and then I hear grumbles from Gunners fans about Arsene Wenger. I’ve heard some saying that he’s running out of ideas and that the club needs to move on under someone new. Do you agree with this view at all, or is that just an absurd suggestion?

Vital Arsenal: The grumbling Gooners are in the minority, I would say. What Wenger has done and continues to do for this club is legendary, and his legacy will last for as long as the club does. I can’t think of another manager who has been able to keep a club so competitive whilst being on such a tight shoe-string and building a state of the art stadium at the same time.

The restraints are now starting to come off, and the young players he was bringing through aren’t that young any more. Whereas a couple of years ago the squad looked thin and threadbare, I believe it’s blossoming into the deepest squad in England. I honestly believe we’re about to reap the fruits of Wenger’s hard work.

Vital Ipswich: Is Wenger currently looking at any new signings, and does he have much in the way of funds at his disposal?

Vital Arsenal: At the minute we’re in for a new central defender, not because we’re lacking in that department, but because the curse of the injury strikes again. Whether he will be looking at a long term signing or a stop gap is something only Wenger knows.

Given that we’re one of the few clubs making a profit these days I think there should be a couple of quid to spend.

Vital Ipswich: Assuming you’re remotely interested, do you have any opinions at all on the present state of affairs at Ipswich Town? It has after all been a very busy few weeks at Portman Road, as I’m sure you’ll know…!

Vital Arsenal: I think the appointment of Paul Jewell is a good one. He’s always come across as a decent guy in my opinion and has done very well in the past. Getting Bradford City to the Premiership and keeping them there is no mean feat. I reckon he’ll save you from the drop quite comfortably.

(Also his wife is pretty hot… she was a careers officer who paid a visit to my school in about 1992; she was asked more questions about football than she was about jobs!)

Vital Ipswich: Heh – I wouldn’t know anything about that!! Onto the subject of the Carling Cup then. I should imagine that first leg came as a bit of a shock! (Heck, it did for me, anyway…!) What did you make of the game?

Vital Arsenal: I was extremely impressed with Ipswich… and bitterly disappointed with our performance.

I initially thought we were going to do the age old trick of passing a team to death and then destroying you in the last 20 minutes or so, but your lads just kept going and going. Really good stamina and mental strength; it’s not easy to spend so much time without the ball and still win the game.

Vital Ipswich: Indeed. On that note, what’s your opinion on the comments made by Cesc Fabregas after that game about Ipswich supposedly winning by using ‘rugby tactics’?

Vital Arsenal: Fabregas usually says all the right things, but I was a tad disappointed with this. Too many times we offer excuses regarding the opponents’ tactics rather than just accepting defeat. We need to learn to stop talking and do the business on the pitch.

Vital Ipswich: I know some pundits have argued that Ipswich won that first leg because we simply ‘wanted it more’. Do you think winning this competition means a lot to Arsenal, or is this just a ‘tin cup’ to you?

Vital Arsenal: Well when we got to the semi-final this year we became the club to appear in the most semi-finals in League Cup history, with something like 4 semi-finals in the last 7 years. People mistake Wenger’s usual stance of playing younger players for not caring about the cup, but he will play whatever team he believes can win the tie, and with our record he gets it right more often than not.

That said our teams this year have been stronger than ever before. The lack of trophies for 5 years has left us very hungry, and every piece of silverware that’s up for grabs will be gone for.

Vital Ipswich: Bearing in mind what happened at Portman Road in the first leg, how do you think Wenger will approach this second leg, and what sort of lineup will he be putting out this time? Anyone in particular we should be looking out for?

Vital Arsenal: The lineup against you in the first leg was pretty strong, and I think for the second leg it will be even stronger; probably full strength, because all it takes is one corner, free kick or penalty for you and it leaves us needing three goals. We can’t afford to be complacent in the home leg, because if we are, we’ll be in trouble.

Vital Ipswich: Is there anyone in the Ipswich Town team that you will be keeping an eye on? We’ve heard lots of rumours that Wenger likes the look of our boy Connor Wickham; I know plenty of your fans were impressed with him in the first leg!

Vital Arsenal: Wickham was amazing in the first leg. He was your best defender, midfielder and attacker, the boy was a machine. I’ll definitely be looking out for him again.

Vital Ipswich: Neck on the line time – what’s your score prediction, and who’s going to Wembley?

Vital Arsenal: I’m going to say Arsenal winning 3-0. We haven’t been beaten at home in the League Cup for a long while (possibly Middlesbrough at Highbury) and not at all at Ashburton Grove.

When we don’t take teams lightly we have the ability to dismantle them, and I don’t think we will make that mistake again…. I can’t even bare to think about it if we do.

Our thanks go to the guys at Vital Arsenal for participating in this interview. Here’s wishing them luck (of the bad variety!) for Tuesday’s big game. Bring it on!!

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