February 15, 2014

Horse 1621 - Arsenal v Liverpool (Fifth Round Proper)

"I am sure it is a four-horse race now.They have a big advantage because they don’t play in the Champions League.
If Brendan has a chihuahua it is one that trains a lot and rests a lot. The other dogs, they don’t train a lot because they play a lot and they don’t rest because they play every three days.
Brendan’s chihuahua doesn’t do that. During the week it sleeps, eats and trains a little bit. So I have to say his chihuahua is a privileged one. Next season he will see what it is like to play in two, three, four competitions. This season he has this privilege which gives him a big advantage."
- Jose Mourinho, as quoted by The Daily Mail, 14th Feb 2014.

Quoting the Chelsea manager speaking about the league title chase in reference to an FA Cup fixture might sound a little bonkers but this weekend when Liverpool travel to The Emirates', I think that it's entirely apt.

Looking at the next few fixtures that both Arsenal and Liverpool play over the next few matches, we see that Arsenal play Bayern Munich three days later but that Liverpool's next fixture is Swansea and a whole week away.
Arsenal will probably require a few players to back up for that fixture, whilst Liverpool can treat this FA Cup tie as just another match in the calendar. In that context, Mourinho's comment starts to look apt.
Except not.

In a regular league fixture, points mean prizes. What do points mean? Diddly-squat here. In the FA Cup, if you lose, then you're gone. Out. Finished. Finito. Oblivion.
That's what we hope to see in this match. Two dogs coming out with teeth bared, flowing with spit, one of them a cocky little chihuahua; yapping because it can and the other, still licking its wounds from a kicking last week.

After Liverpool's 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal last week in the league, I had the following exchange on Twitter:
@SamuelJCox - I do hope Arsenal make up for that performance in the FA Cup next week.
@rollo75 - I too hope that Arsenal make up for that performance & that the score is the other way round: Arsenal 1 - Liverpool 5
@SamuelJCox - Haha not what I meant, we'll see though

Liverpool's trip to the Emirates will be one flowing with confidence; knowing that they can do the job and do it easily. Arsenal will be playing with the knowledge of the Champions League in the back of their minds; but still hurting from their thrashing.
Of course it's from this starting point where the two mindsets should be obvious from the outset. Liverpool will need to fire quick and early but Arsenal will want to park the bus in front of goal and slowly work their way into the game.
That's kind of where some of the magic of the FA Cup lies. Different styles coming to play, with the consequences yawning below. Lose and you fall into the abyss, achieving nothing. Win though and you play on for a chance to claim arguably the most famous piece of silverware in football.

And I hope that Skrtel gets his hat-trick this time.

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