Well, it’s been very hectic as we have moved from one tournament to another in the last 10 days with tonight our fourth game, in as many tournaments, against after-all-not-so-mighty-Barcelona. This fixture no doubt has been in the minds of every football fan and Gooner after we beat them at the Emirates three weeks ago. Even our players will have had this in their minds in the past week.
So, what’s the fuss about a match which many believe we will lose and as a result be kicked out of Champions league. Well, the fuss is due to the fact that we beat them and some still believe we can do it again. For me, I don’t care what many believe because I believe in my team and if we play good football then there is no stopping us. Even Barcelona knows we can beat them. A win, loss or a draw, we can and we will qualify.
So, how can we then qualify for the next round? We know they will score goals. So we just have to restrict them from scoring plenty and make sure that we score as many as them or at the most one less. We have to ensure that the game stays within our reach. It’s easier said than done because we all know if Barcelona goes on a goal spree, this game will be over in no time. We just have to make certain that we don’t give them too much time and space with the ball and take our own chances upfront. How this can be achieved? By playing twice the times better than what we did at the Emirates, yes, only then it will be possible. It is difficult! Yes, but to beat the best we have to give our best, our whole team will have to give in a top performance defensively as well as offensively.
So, who to play then? There can be no doubts about the backline and keeper for this one. Szczesny, Koscielny, Djourou, Sagna and Clichy will surely all start.
Big decisions are to be made in the middle and upfront. Wenger’s tactics were spot on at the Emirates; I hope his tactics are spot on here as well. I will go with Diaby, Wilshere and Fabregas in the middle as they are the best possible options available. I hope Fabregas is hundred percent fit for this because losing him now would be a disaster. And please Arsene don’t consider Denilson to start this one.
Upfront, it’s even trickier. We received great injury boost yesterday with van Persie traveling with the squad. He has made a quick recovery from an injury that had him ruled out for atleast three weeks. Now, I don’t care how he did it, I am just glad he is back. However, I still won’t start with him. According to Wenger, he will start only if he is hundred percent fit and I hope Wenger sticks to it. We cannot risk a recurrence of an injury with him with many important games to come. Bendtner and Chamakh on the other hand have been doing well. However, they won’t score goals out of nowhere. So, who should we play upfront? I think it will depend on how we tactically approach the game. For me, I will go with Chamakh for his good work rate and his defensive capabilities. Not because to be defensive but because we will need someone to defend as well as attack. Van Persie is an asset on the counter but so can Arshavin be if utilized in that role and that’s why I will start with Arshavin too. He will have to put in a lot of effort at both ends of the pitch though. Nasri to complete the starting eleven.
Bendtner has been playing well but I will keep him on the bench with Van Persie and bring them on later if the game is within our reach. Although, I won’t be surprised if either of Bendtner or Van Persie starts.
Probable starting lineup: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Fabregas, Diaby, Nasri, Chamakh, Arshavin
I guess there isn’t anything else to discuss. The bottom line is we have to keep the score line wthin our reach and then we can damage them with whatever chance we create or get. I have everything crossed for tonight and I am gunning for a qualification.
Have a great day Gooners and hopefully tonight will be a great night. Only a few hours left to kick off. Before signing off, I will say again, no matter what the result, we will always be behind you Arsenal. Go Arsenal Go!!
p.s. I will like to add that if, and that is a big if, we don’t qualify despite playing well, it won’t be a disaster and I won’t be bothered much as there will still be plenty left to play for.