The emergence of Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere was supposed to herald a new era for England, where long balls and crude physicality would be discarded in favour of flair, intelligence and technical excellence. Two minutes after Ross Barkley came off the bench in last night’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg between Arsenal and Chelsea, he had chased a ball out of play, kicked Wilshere in the head by accident, been hacked down by Wilshere in retaliation (who earlier had missed both man and ball when launching himself at Eden Hazard) and made a mistimed lunge on Nacho Monreal that resulted in a free-kick to Arsenal just outside Chelsea’s box. One couldn’t quite shake the feeling (at least for those two minutes) that England’s answer to Xavi and Iniesta were closer to resembling Thomas Graveson and Lee Carsley.
Graveson seen here speaking to a British soldier
Actor Ross Kemp talks to DCOM ISAF by ResoluteSupportMedia is licensed by CC 2.0
Of course, Barkley and Wilshere could still fulfil their potential, and a composed display by the latter did lead Arsenal to their fourth cup final in five years. It should be noted that Barkley’s second-half display was an improvement on his first - and that Wilshere treated Arsenal fans to another composed performance with occasional flashes of brilliance.
Forever a prodigy or on the verge of stardom?
But at this stage of their careers, the two were supposed to have taken the world by storm in a haze of slick one-twos, trophy-laden campaigns and of course, | Goals| Assists| Amazing Skillz 2017| YouTube compilations. Instead, they’re chasing their potential in a tournament Arsene Wenger used to play a borderline reserve side in.
Is the excitement of Arsenal fans at watching Wilshere make a solid performance in such a secondary tournament a symbol of Arsenal’s general malaise? Wenger used to win league titles; then he won back-to-back FA Cups to save his job; now he’s banking on winning the League Cup.
Of course, they’ll have to beat the (almost) invincible Manchester City first, who in the other semi-final legs out-gunned the plucky meme-machine that is Bristol City. If we’re being honest, Arsenal vs City sounds like pretty much the most entertaining final you could hope to watch with us on the 25th of Feburary, even if Arsenal may need the luck that last night resulted in Nacho Monreal’s equalising via a double deflection, before Granit Xhaka took advantage of another fortuitous ricochet to flick over Willy Cabellero for the winner.
We spent Monday night watching Liverpool being predictably unpredictable in their Premier League clash with strugglers Swansea. With Spurs failing to beat Southampton the day before, Klopp’s men had the chance to go five points clear, and into the Champions League places, against a team languishing in bottom place. Liverpool promptly lost 1-0, a result that came as no surprise to fans:
Looking ahead, we have the magic of the FA Cup™, starting on Friday with Yeovil Town taking on Manchester United. We would call this a David vs Goliath tie but with Jose Mourinho’s insistence that United are downtrodden underdogs who cannot possibly be asked to compete with the financial muscle of the top teams , it’s hard to tell who’s who. Perhaps the tie will end with a starry-eyed Paul Pogba asking each of Yeovil’s players to sign his shirt?
Live matches at Topgolf continue on Saturday with Peterborough hosting Leicester City at the ABAX Stadium, Newport County vs Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool travelling to West Brom. With Spurs’ reputation for flakiness and Liverpool’s record against sides in the bottom half, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see an upset or two, before Chelsea vs Newcastle and Manchester City vs Cardiff City at the weekend.
Of course, there’s plenty of other sport to enjoy this week. The fourth ODI between Australia and England will be live all Friday and the final showdown on Sunday. England will be looking to complete a whitewash as a redemption of sorts for their Ashes drubbing.
And if the genteel game of cricket just isn’t your cup of tea, there’s NBA to close out the weekend as the injury-hit Houston Rockets take on the Phoenix Suns. Plus, Leicester challenge Castres in the Champions Cup at 17.30pm and there’s another chance to watch Messi and Co. in Barcelona vs Deportivo La Coruna at 19.45pm.
You can watch all the live sport at Topgolf on one (or more) of our live sport screens, with the sound turned up! Check out our fixture list .