Arsenal game will be “no fun day” for Kennedy

ARSENAL are coming to town, and Portman Road will be rocking, but this is no excuse for hosts Ipswich to enjoy a “fun” evening out.

ARSENAL are coming to town, and Portman Road will be rocking, but this is no excuse for hosts Ipswich to enjoy a “fun” evening out.

A crazy last few days reaches a crescendo tonight, when Arsene Wenger’s Premier League stars roll into Ipswich for an eagerly-awaited Carling Cup semi-final first leg tie (kick-off 7.45pm).

There has hardly been time to catch your breath at Town, following Roy Keane’s sacking last Thursday, a 7-0 defeat at Chelsea in the FA Cup on Sunday, and Paul Jewell’s appointment as the new boss on Monday.

The build-up, for such a huge game, has been unconventional to say the least.

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But regardless of all the distractions, the bottom line is that the bulk of a sell-out crowd will be urging on Ipswich to cause a major upset and so take one step towards a possible trip to Wembley.

Experienced left-back Mark Kennedy has seen it all before, and he is fully aware of the special prize that is on offer if Town’s young guns dare to put Arsenal to the sword.

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“This is a massive game, the semi-final of a cup, and it’s a chance to play in a cup final, which some players never have,” explained Kennedy.

“We’ve got an opportunity to get to Wembley. There is going to be a full house, and I’m sure we will be ready.

“The lads are there by merit, they are not there by luck. We haven’t had the greatest season in the world, but in the cup we have earned the right to play against Arsenal, and on TV.

“Hopefully, we can give a good account of ourselves. The Chelsea game is gone, it’s over.

“We have a very inexperienced group of players, and there are only a few old heads around.

“It’s up to the senior guys, like me, to try and help the younger players through this period.

“This the type of game that young players should want to play in, having grown up watching the Arsenals and Manchester Uniteds.

“But I have to say again, this is not a fun day out. Arsenal are coming to town, it’s the semi-final of a cup, so it’s an incredibly serious game of football.

“We fell apart as a team at Chelsea, and we have to make sure that we don’t give away silly goals this time.

“Arsenal are a fantastic footballing side. They are incredibly talented, and have a manager who is highly decorated and well respected,” added 34-year-old Kennedy, with reference to Wenger.

Town’s new boss, Jewell, will be taking no part in tonight’s showdown. He is not taking over until tomorrow morning, so will instead be an interested spectator in the stands.

Caretaker boss Ian “Charlie” McParland and coach Tony Loughlan will therefore be pulling the strings, just as they did on that fateful Sunday at Chelsea.

Tonight’s game is a sell-out. The last few remaining tickets were snapped up yesterday afternoon, and the club is urging fans to arrive early at the ground to avoid missing the kick-off.

That means a crowd of 30,000-plus will be crammed into Portman Road, guaranteeing the largest attendance for seven years since the visit of East Anglian rivals Norwich (30,152) for a league game in December, 2003.

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