All about the pace, 'bout the pace – and weather!

By Simon Rose

The Welbeck Effect and heat can win us this FA Cup

Can Arsenal stop Chelsea winning the double? With a record 30 Premier League victories in becoming this season’s champions, Chelsea will be everybody’s favourites, other than ours. In basic terms, Chelsea really should win the FA Cup too, but every game starts 0-0 and the outcome is only about what happens on the day. For me, there are definitely factors at work which give us a chance. We must concentrate and retain belief and support for the whole game, come what may.

Pace will give us a huge scope to win. Any team can handle defending against slow ponderous football, played in arcs across the pitch. No team can handle pace. Defenders like the ball in front of them, they don’t like having to chase back towards their goal. Pace breaks defensive lines. It creates gaps. It causes havoc and allows team-mates to ghost in and avoid being tracked. Arsenal cannot afford to be shy and we cannot afford to let Chelsea settle, because if they take the lead it is probably game over. Pace is a huge asset for beating any team and Arsenal must go for it from the off.

That must mean Welbeck starting up front. He lacks sharpness and his fitness scares me with every step, but his pace must give him the edge over Giroud. Welbeck does not seem especially fit and his accuracy is not especially reliable either, with recent matches seeing more air-shots than goals. But he is not far off track. If he is on the money today, he can win us the FA Cup, directly, or indirectly.

The Welbeck Effect draws team-mates close to possible chances and secondary chances. Welbeck’s pace drags defenders towards him, freeing up vital space for others. Welbeck’s pace and presence creates loose balls and rebounds for team-mates, like Bellerin’s goal against Everton and recent Alexis strikes, including his semi-final winner against City. Beyond being a goalscorer, if Welbeck is not scoring himself he becomes a reason – wittingly or unwittingly – for us to sense chances and line up ready. We might not get many chances today. And we must be ready and clinical.

In goal, it looks like Ospina will get the nod ahead of Cech and people are losing their mind over it, but I'm not prepared to decide that we can't beat Chelsea just because of who is in goal. Football is not that simple. If Ospina plays well, it's a great decision to play him. Many fans have reacted wildly to Cech not playing but, other than automatically deciding that Wenger is out of his mind, there could be good sense in it.

Here are three simples reasons to pick Ospina over Cech. 1) Chelsea know Cech's flaws and might have been planning to plunder them. 2) Ospina might handle the heat better, being more used to playing in heat for his country. 3) We might face a penalty shoot-out and Cech just flumps to one side, making scoring easier for takers. Cech has been in great form since the FA Cup semi-final but, in the moment that Aguero scored past Cech in that match, were you convinced that we would want him playing in a final? In the end, the whole team must do their jobs.

And we fans must do our job too. While the cup is at stake, forget about which players might leave. Forget about the manager and board. Keep your protests at the door. You can protest all you like after the game. While the game is on, the fans must get behind the team. We need mass positivity inside the stadium. It will help our players. It might put off Chelsea players, if we’re a bit more loud and supportive than they expect. Any percentage of help could make a difference. I remember at Cardiff in 2005, shouting “USA! USA! USA!” at Man Utd and saying it could put annoy just one player and put them off. Scholes took an irritated penalty, Lehmann saved it and we won the cup.

We might never know quite how much difference our support made that day, but one thing we won’t need today is people bitching about the manager or the board during the game while we are still in contention. If we are 5-0 down with five minutes to go, fans won’t be smiling wildly, but unless we are in a desperate state during the game, any protests should be afterwards and only during the game if we are playing pitifully and getting well beaten with no evident hope of recovery.

Chelsea will have prepared well. They will target our defensive frailties and makeshift back three. They will know this formation better than us, having played it longer and more successfully. We have to be ready for that and target them with no mercy or doubt. Which is where the final factor comes in: heat. Today is due to be another roaster. If it is 80 degrees outside, the pitch-side heat could be in the 90s. That could have a real effect and reduce likelihood of victory to greater fitness and staying power. Chelsea’s superiority might become less of a factor. Great heat could greatly reduce the scope for Chelsea to run away with the final. It could leave drained players in an even contest at 0-0 or 1-1 till late.

This game will never come back. Forget the league campaign Arsenal, do it on the day, just like you did in the semi-final. Make this yours. As much as a 3-1 Chelsea scoreline bounces around my head, the Welbeck Effect and heat make me feel that 1-0 or 2-1 Arsenal is totally viable.


27th May 2017 09:43:04


Comments and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

Seven Kings Gooner1  10:15am 27th May 2017

Simon: Wenger has picked Ospina because it gives him a dog to kick when he gets beat today. Graham Taylor put in a rookie goalkeeper once for Watford in a FA Cup semi final against the Spuds. The press will highlight the keepers errors so it takes the pressure off AW and at the board meeting he will be able to say he promised Ospina he would play if fit - so honourable Arsene gets another two years. Simon - "Ospina might handle the heat better" he might handle the heat better but the problem is he is only 5 feet tall FFS!!! Give me strength. - Post No. 107521

jjetplane  11:15am 27th May 2017

Simon Perry/Richard Rose is rallying the troops while blaming everything on those BITCHING fans who really need to get behind the team which the BITCHING fans would if there was a team to get behind. Nice to know Danny is still playing football but whatever happened to the Giroud/Perez that was gonna outscore Harry and Deli? Great post highbury mysteries and all that. Today's match will be decided by Fabregas. - Post No. 107523

Highbury Boy  11:17am 27th May 2017

I have never seen such a daft justification of a daft selection! I don't think even Wenger would come out with saying he was playing Ospina ahead of Cech because of the heat at the 530 ko. A precedent was set with playing Flappy in his last game for us and that almost backfired when he dashed out of his goal to the touchline a few minutes from the end of the Final. The only way this team avoided ending up mid table were the goals and assists from Sanchez and the saves from Cech. He is a far better goalie and his experience behind a back 5 who have never played together would have been vital. Chelsea players know how good Cech is and by playing our reserve goalie ,who hardly distinguished himself in his Bayern outings , hands them a psychological advantage before they step on the pitch. Add into the mixture a slow BFG who hasn't played for a year, a rookie defender with a handful of games, a left back in the middle , a central midfielder/winger having a belated go at wing back and probably a right back playing a left wing back and it's a recipe for disaster. A good experienced gk would have had his work cut out to save us. Simon,the heat is on Wenger and for good reason. Perhaps he will rest Sanchez so that the team can see what it will be like next season without him? He did rest Arshavin in a Cup Final for not dissimilar reasons. Perhaps the heat has got to Wenger? - Post No. 107524

jeff wright  11:50am 27th May 2017

Wenger's crazy decision to play Ospina in the Champions League was hardly proven justified .I go along with the school of thought that Wenger is putting in place excuses to try to cover for failure if as most expect he losses against Chelsea today. What I want to know is where is Wally Walcott. Keytone Kos has of course ducked out and Mustafi has an headache apparently. AKB is familiar with that ,his wife always has one! No wonder he is so angry and frustrated all the time and always resorting to silly school boy type sexual comments about others on here.Anyway, enough of him I don't want to hi-jack this comedy sketch to talk about that clown. Danny Welbeck come on down this is your showpiece moment is rather funny given his record on scoring goals. There is a chance today though for him to become a legend in his own boots .Will he grasp the opportunity that fate has tossed to him though is the question. I wouldn't bet on it. - Post No. 107525

equalizer  11:52am 27th May 2017

Ospina playing is purely down to an agreement that he would play in the cup competition when fit. On cup final day, this article is not only a complete waste of space, it's an insult to anyone with any form of intelligence. Ospina can handle the weather better, what age are you? - Post No. 107526

mbg  13:57pm 27th May 2017

Wellbeck and the heat, lol, we're relying on the heat now ? do you AKB's ever give up ? if we're stuffed it'll be the fooking heat that was the cause of it, the heat will get the blame, You couldn't make it up. We want wenger out, we want wenger out. - Post No. 107529

mbg  14:16pm 27th May 2017

Do you think Chelsea won't be able to handle the heat ? They'll handle the heat a hell of a lot better than our pussies, and will have prepared a hell of a lot better too (i'd be surprised if we prepared at all)and of course you forgot (accidently on purpose no doubt)to factor in the biggest stumbling block for us of all, and will have the biggest affect on us, wenger. @no new contract, wenger out. - Post No. 107530

mbg  17:12pm 27th May 2017

Remember this and don't forget, Whatever the outcome whatever the score the Weasel wenger out the door, We want wenger out We want wenger out. - Post No. 107532

GoonerRon  19:56pm 27th May 2017

Yes mbg, Chelsea handled the heat brilliantly. NOT. Come on you Gunners! - Post No. 107533

TonyEvans  19:56pm 27th May 2017

What a fantastic performance. Thought Monreal and Mertesaker were exceptional, and Holding did very well too. What a great way to end the season. - Post No. 107534

mbg  20:03pm 27th May 2017

Well done the heat and the weather, great performance. Any resignation yet ? - Post No. 107535

TOOAW  20:03pm 27th May 2017

@simon rose. You nailed it my friend. 2-1 was your prediction and 2-1 it was. Disappointing season yet we finished on a high. - Post No. 107536

John F  20:13pm 27th May 2017

Watched a clip on the forum above of the Chelsea celebration last Sunday.They announced that Arsenal failed to make the top four to great cheers then that Kos was sent off and would miss the final that was also met with cheers and a Wenger must stay song.Classless by the announcer and it made me really want to beat the chavs even more this sat.Great display by Arsenal similar to the home game against them.Really enjoyed the game as it was the first final my youngest son watched with me.Loved Holdings and Bfg display and Welbecks non stop running but Sanchez in the first half was awesome.Even Ozil decided to turned up.I still think Wenger is going after he would not say that he wanted to stay. - Post No. 107537

Seven Kings Gooner1  20:19pm 27th May 2017

Ron : You nailed mate, you have been saying 2-1 for a couple of weeks - Simon you got it spot on, I on the other hand got it hopelessly wrong but if you put in the effort results like today can happen. So pleased for Holding and the BFG, how Arsenal only scored two is a complete mystery. So why not this effort every week? - Post No. 107538

Alsace  20:35pm 27th May 2017

And so the nightmare goes on, unless he takes the opportunity to go out with dignity. - Post No. 107539

mbg  20:41pm 27th May 2017

John F, yes good game and well deserved even though Chelsea weren't exactly at the races, (maybe it was the heat or complacency we know a bit about that ) my young Son well 16 actually put up his Arsenal flag for the first time in years I don't know what came over him it's pissing rain over here, he's still bouncing. wenger out. - Post No. 107540

GoonerRon  21:00pm 27th May 2017

@ John F - exactly the same as me. My dopey wife decided to book us for 2 weeks in Menorca so got to watch it with my 5 year mini-Gooner having been at Wembley for the last two wins. Made it ultra sweet to be fair. - Post No. 107541

Wengerballs  21:06pm 27th May 2017

Very proud of our display today and very proud to be a gooner. We played the title winners off the park in front of a global audience. Even syrupy in the stand seemed to be enjoying it. Despite all the anger about Wenger et al and the clubs lack of sporting ambition, today we can all be very proud fans. - Post No. 107542

PerryG  21:13pm 27th May 2017

I'm as Wenger out as the next man but you can't help but enjoy a cup final win over a club like Chelsea, and denying them the double into the bargain. Wenger has been given another chance to leave on a high and i really hope he takes it - Post No. 107543

John F  21:17pm 27th May 2017

As you might of guessed I am an old dad my eldest is 27 and youngest just turned middle son said he did not have much of a choice in Supporting Arsenal but because I moved up north I did not put so much effort in to the youngest but today confirmed him as a Gooner.Hopefully he will carry it on long after me ,wiggy and Wenger are confined to the History books.Everyone remembers their first final. - Post No. 107544

markymark  22:17pm 27th May 2017

When Ramsey's goal went in it was the first great bellow in 7 years. Stowmarket (Combine Harvester Country) was solid red and I was amused to hear how the Spuds had one f#ck! All. I work with two Chelsea supporting colleagues who were so sure all week. Maybe that affected the players slightly as well. Excellent performance the top off would be Wengo resigning but fat chance of that. - Post No. 107545

Cyril  22:46pm 27th May 2017

So happy!! RON, any tips for the derby next week - class!!!! - Post No. 107546

mbg  22:59pm 27th May 2017

Pery G, well said a good win, cant help but feel proud tonight regardless, i'm enjoying my grolsch tonight, yes he's been giving another chance to go out on a high, he's never going to get it again, lets hope an pray he takes it. wenger out. - Post No. 107547

Cyril  23:35pm 27th May 2017

YOU KNOW, objectivity, collectivity, good will and shared desire for positive outcomes will always outdo selfish individualism. Thatcher was wrong. I've taken part on this forum all year and shared so many opinions and listened to so much that has been thought provoking. It's been great. We all want our team to do well and I consider myself to be a giving person as I buy my season ticket in the end to watch other people excel and punch the air for them when they score. To also read the varied thoughts from MBG to sage like RON. It's been a pleasure to sample the plethora of opinion and to absorb and then percolate thereafter. I've enjoyed it this year and would be disappointed if KW pulled the plug as I believe our actions have possibly made some change. That maybe fanciful and indulgent but I believe we are all connected from the team down to us mere mortals and am convinced that we make a difference in our words. We won the cup and that's fine by me. Enjoy the summer everyone!! - Post No. 107548

CBee  1:12am 28th May 2017

When the team puts in that sort of effort, you have to get behind them. Great game and well deserved victory. Have to ask why they cant do it on a regulae basis. Congratulations Arsene. Wenger Out. - Post No. 107550

mbg  8:17am 28th May 2017

Cyril, well said, oh my fooking head. - Post No. 107551

Mathews  8:35am 28th May 2017

Well played Gunners, great effort by the team and last chance for Wenger to leave on a high ! - Post No. 107552

Rippy  10:33am 28th May 2017

Honestly if you can't be happy about that you've no soul !!! Mathews I agree 100% would be a lovely way for Wenger to go out. History won't remember the disappointments it will say 7 fa cups and an unbeaten seasons. It's obvious to me personally Wenger has fallen behind his peers and it's time for him to try pastures new. But he can still win a cup can't he . 3 in four years what a wonderful fantastic thing that 95% of clubs will never ever know !! Be happy for the next few weeks . Have a few beers celebrate and hold your heads High. We are the arsenal. - Post No. 107553

equalizer  10:38am 28th May 2017

First of all, great effort and performance by the players. Like any employees, it's amazing what they are capable of when they are motivated. If they only had leadership this type of effort and performance would be the norm, northern exception - Post No. 107554

jeff wright  10:40am 28th May 2017

Well done Arsene the best team won on the day .7 FA Cups won will be hard to beat by any other AFC manager at AFC but none of them are ever likely to be 21 years with us.So best accept the applause Arsene take a bow wave au revoir to the crowd and leave gracefully. 6 months down the line you might not have that opportunity. Winning the FA Cup does not mean anything regarding the future which at knocking on to 70 but looking 90 does anymore than any of your last six FA Cups did. Itill suspect however that being what you are as a person that you will still be with us next season and only token gestures will be made to try and pretend that you have changed your ways. We have been here before. Shame that TOOAW never had the bottle to tip you to win yesterday at least I suggested that you might do,what a mug that AKB troll is ! - Post No. 107555

equalizer  10:51am 28th May 2017

Will Wenger now leave on his own accord- not a chance. To see him like a heavyweight who just regained the world title strutting around the pitch, when he was too cowardly to do it at his home ground last week was comical. - Post No. 107557

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

23rd February 2018

It Is Actually Getting Worse

Online Ed: Arsenal’s largely unmotivated players defeated at home