Arsenal’s defeat will make it tougher for Orient says Slade
O’s chief is ready for a Gunners backlash
ORIENT boss Russell Slade believes that Arsenal’s defeat against Birmingham City in the Carling Cup Final on Sunday will make his side’s task even harder tonight.
The O’s travel to The Emirates for an FA Cup fifth round replay and Slade insists his side might have had a better chance of a cup shock had the Gunners lifted the trophy at the weekend.
“I was hoping for an Arsenal win in extra-time,” said the O’s boss as he dismissed the notion that Sunday’s Carling Cup defeat would leave Arsene Wenger’s side suffering a confidence crisis.
“If anything, the defeat will make them more resilient. They are still fighting on three fronts and they could reach two cup finals and win the Premier League title. The defeat against Birmingham might test their mentality, but they have got such a good group of players.”
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The O’s chief is prepared for an Arsenal backlash and added: “Sometimes when you have a really strong group and you test their mettle, they come out even stronger.”
But the O’s boss also has great faith in his own squad and was delighted with their reaction when they came back from the dead at Huddersfield on Saturday.
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“Of course it’s at a different level, but Saturday tested our resolution too,” said Slade. “We lost our skipper Stephen Dawson early on and then went down to 10 men, but we still came back from two goals down to earn a point.”
That result means the O’s have lost just once in their last 22 fixtures – and Slade knows it will be difficult to keep that run going.
“It will be a really, really tough ask at Arsenal, but we have got such a good attitude and such good spirit, it won’t be through the lack of having a go and trying,” he said.
“It would be lovely to overcome Arsenal, but if I was a betting man, I would say there is more chance of us reaching the top six.
“We will go there with belief, but we’re going to be up against 11 internationals and if all things are equal then they shouldn’t get beaten.”
However, Slade knows that the longer his side can stay in the game, the more the pressure will start to mount on Wenger’s side.
“Look, if they don’t get early goals to settle themselves down, that will bring a bit of pressure and let’s hope that pressure builds, because we all know that pressure can do some weird and wonderful things. But if you have quality players and quality management, sometimes pressure brings the best out of you,” he added.
Selection will prove to be difficult for Slade tonight as skipper Dawson is ruled out and Harry Kane is suspended after being sent off at Huddersfield on Saturday.
Slade feared the worst after Dawson was carried off at the weekend and said: “We’re still waiting for the results of a scan and he could be out for four to six weeks, but we don’t think it’s his cruciate.
“We feared the worst at first, but it’s not the worst.”
With Dawson out as well as Matt Spring, two of the players who have been virtual ever-presents this season will be missing from the centre of midfield.
Jason Crowe had not returned to competitive training on Monday and Adam Chambers is also a definite non-starter. “We might not even be able to fill the bench,” said Slade.
So Jimmy Smith is likely to partner Tommy Carroll in the centre of midfield.
Carroll, currently on loan from Spurs, started his first game at Huddersfield on Saturday and Slade said: “Harry’s disappointed that he can play no part after being sent off at Huddersfield, but Tommy Carroll has every chance of starting.
“He couldn’t get the smile off his face when he was told he’d be starting at Huddersfield, so he will be like a dog with two tails to be playing at The Emirates,” added the O’s boss.