Champions League or Premier League – Arsene Will Show His Priorities Tomorrow

Cesc’s hamstring is dominating the lead up to the encounter with Porto, Arsene has to decide whether or not the risk of aggravating the injury, and potentially the title challenge, is outweighed by the requirement to retrieve a one-goal deficit.

It is all reminscent of the first Champions League campaign hosted at The Emirates, PSV Eindhoven held a similarly slender lead – although Arsenal did not have what may turn out to be a precious away goal – with a key player, that time it was Thierry Henry, having an injury which ought to have precluded his involvement. It did not and the Premier League campaign limped to its conclusion, fourth place attained.

The chance of winning the remaining two competitions puts Wenger into the quandry, the solution for which he is paid to resolve. The crucial difference is that Arsene has better options available this time around. Samir Nasri excelled centrally following Fabregas’ withdrawal on Saturday, his performance being one that would have been purred about had it been Fabregas.

Prioritising competitions has been something which Wenger has been slated for, the FA Cup criticism I can understand but that which followed the Carling Cup exit is somewhat baffling. The manager has made no bones about the fact that he will always play a youthful team in that competition, using it as an opportunity to blood inexperience to ensure that they are ready for Premier League action when required. Or at least better prepared than would otherwise be the case.

The FA Cup holds a unique position in English football, perhaps the importance that is attached to it is unique in world football. But it is losing it’s shine, a fact emphasised by the Football Association who have acknowledged that something needs to be done about it. One idea they are considering is that it becomes a midweek competition, no replays and only the semi-finals onwards held on weekends. Quite how that fits into an already crowded calendar is another matter unless the League Cup finishes its course before Christmas, which would make life simpler but ultimately be the death knell for that competition.

Including Nasri in the central position resolves another issue for Wenger; who to play on the left. Having been the footballing equivalent of Cabaret Voltaire’s Groovy, Laidback and Nasty on Saturday, Theo Walcott is going to surely start on the right. Perhaps his goal and general second half performance will bolster his confidence. Certainly his speed will concern the Porto defence, a back four which will receive support from the midfield in greater numbers than in the first leg.

It means a toss up between Tomas Rosicky and Andrey Arshavin. Both are highly creative but attacking threat is enhanced with Arshavin, more likely to produce a goal or two than his Czech peer, something which may be needed if Bendtner has an equally profligate evening in front of goal. Yet Rosicky offers more protection to Gael Clichy, something which was noticeable when the Russian entered the fray on Saturday.

Conceding an away goal is something Wenger will be keen to avoid tomorrow night, unless of course Arsenal are away and out of sight in the tie, when conceding becomes almost irrelevant. It is not the usual way of thinking about the two players but may be something which crosses Arsene’s mind when selecting the team, if he has not already done so.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on March 8, 2010, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 164 Comments.

  1. *********Al

    Sagna TV Gallas Clichy

    ***Nasri Song Diaby

    ***Theo Niklas Ash

    Cesc should rest; this squad is able to get us through

  2. We shouldn’t risk Cesc whatever happens. As you say, we have a strong enough team to beat Porto at home. I think Eboue at RB attacking with Theo will cause some real issues down their left hand side.

    We have a chance of winning the most difficult double this year, and if players can start hitting form (like theo – fingers crossed) then that chance will become reality in a couple of months.

    COME ON ARSENAL!!

  3. Campbell and TV is a much more solid partnership too. As long as we get an early goal, it should be easily do-able.

    Anyone see wilshere’s volley on Sat? Nice to see him playing more often. On the other hand, it was sickening to see him embracing Kevin Davies… Less of that please Jack.

  4. True, Arse Shavin, if he can play well in that side, he should rinse it with us when playing regularly…

  5. I think we should start with Rosicky instead of AA23..he looked to be carrying a little extra weight yday plus Gael needs protection..
    we should go for pace on one wing with Walcott/ Aa 23 and another with trickery with Rosicky..

  6. Nasri/rosicky can take on the creative mantle if cesc is not 100%.we don’t want him to aggrevate his hamstring as he did vs villa which will sideline him longer.AA may not offer protection but his presence scares defenders,they will not attack as much which would leave him gaps to exploit.when TR7/SN8 play on the left we play pretty triangles with little end product but AA has the cutting edge;he can be devastating.he can score from the most impossible angles which is phenomenal.a forward line of bendtner,AA and theo will give their defenders enough nightmares.Diaby will be the one to cover for clichy and also song will play.

  7. …Arsenal,guys can u please tel me wat the fans sing in the stadium..it goes like this_ARSeNAL,ArSENal fc then….I’m from south africa so I dnt knw

  8. Flex m-TR7 played 67 minutes for the czechs,he played on saturday too and i think this will be a game too soon for him to start.we should start with AA to put them on the backfoot from the start to enable us get an early goal.when we score enough,the likes of eboue and morzart can be brought on to give us the technical and tactical edge to close out the game.cesc should be on the bench at the very least as an insuarance policy.

  9. Fab4 sat out morning training,it doesn’t look good for him.possibility of him playing tomorrow is very low.

  10. @teen gunner: Probably this one, to the tune of ‘Wild Rover’ if you know it:

    And it’s Ar-se-nal *clap clap clap*
    Ar-se-nal F-C
    We’re by far the greatest te-am
    The world has ever seen

    (repeat)

  11. Looks like Cesc isn’t in the squad.

  12. Flint McCullough

    YW, we are at a stage when there can be no priorities. It is 1 game at a time & AW has to pick the team, from those he has available, he thinks most likely to do the business in any given match.

    Cesc is either fully fit & plays or he isn’t & not involved at all.

    Nasri & Diaby were good together in the middle, with Denilson stepping up a gear after Cesc went off. We may be tighter defensively but obviously Cesc adds so much going forward. Song will obviously come in, if fit.

    I think we may start with Sagna with Eboue ahead of him. Theo played the full game on Saturday, so he may not start.

    After AA’s non interested 20mins on Saturday, it would be tempting to leave him out but he can be a match winner, particularly in this sort of game.

  13. ill stick a fiver on 2-0 both goals nb52

  14. Porto were dangerous from the right in the first leg. Therefore Rosicky to start, ahead of AA, to provide defensive cover for Clichy.

  15. Cesc will be on the bench and possibly come on if he is needed.
    Wenger said “I’m ready to take the gamble,” “But it depends how big the gamble is. If it is more than a 50 per cent chance his hamstring goes [on the night] then I will not take it.

  16. I still expect AA to start,it will be the first cl knockout game of his career,he will be fired up for it.Henry was one arrogant footballer for us,one minute he’d look disinterested and in a few glimpses score a hatrick.AA has goal threat second to cesc and rvp only;TR7/NASRI will have pretty build up but no end product.with a possible mf of nasri,diaby and song the defence will be tighter and AA’s defensive defencies will be well covered plus big sol is playing.TR7 will only come on as a sub to give us a tactical and technical edge in seeing out the game.

  17. Fabregas won’t be available.

  18. My line up would be
    Almunia
    Clichy, Vamaelen, Sol, Eboue
    Denilson, Song, Diaby
    Nasri, NikB, Walcott

    bench: Rosicky, Edwardo,Arshavin, eastmond, Sly and fabianki

  19. Johnny Gooner

    I just have to drop my to cents, and let me say it like this; if Bendtner is able to get to the same amount of chances as v Burnley, iI’ll be satisfied with him, regardless of how many hits the net. I was baffled by the commentary last on the weekend, they kept having a laugh at big nick, on account of the several good attempts that crept narrowly wide each time. What the hell happended to the “the right place, at the right time” concept? Some balls that are supposed to go in, dont, and some balls that are supposed to go wide, dont, thats football, the ball is shaped as one, and therefore rolls around, and can be quite tricky to handle, despite how easy they make it look sometimes. The way I see it, the only thing you can really hold against a striker is if he never seems to get a chance on goal. As long as he works hard at being where he’s supposed to be, the goals will come, or they wont, but it isnt his fault. Its like Higuain in Real Madrid. Last year let even the biggest chances go begging, but this year he’s knocking them in. Just you wait, Nicklas will get there, but I have a feeling that if we rally behind him, and lend some support, it wont take as long as the other way round. But suit yourselves ;P

    Good read btw, although I reckon Rosicky will starte ahead of Arshavin, I simply dont think Wenger believe him to be in proper form yet. And yes, Nasri was great on saturday, central midfield was, I think, he’s preferred role back in france, and he’s seems more than capable to take over for Cesc when required. It’s kinda taking me by surprise, but i’m starting to get REAL excited about the season run-in.
    REAL. Excited. 😀

    Cheers gooners, keep it gunning.

  20. Now cesc is out our goal threat has gone down considerably.AA is the man to stepup since he is our best bet for a goal,he will start for sure.

  21. Cesc will be on the bench tomorrow. CL means money and lots of money for arsene, to go to the final or even semifinal means a lot to arsene. I think he will gamble on fab if arsenal can’t score until 60 minutes.

  22. KTR Arshavin’s goals/assists seem to say the opposite as his goal threat goes this season.

  23. Quick change of subject for a second, I was posting this on the old article and just seen a new one….

    I have heard from someone who has seen the Wellington Silva train that he is going to be a massive massive star. The coaching staff have been drooling over him. He could well be the best player that we have had in that age group in recent times.

    This source is very reliable.

    Oh and lagooner, if you’re reading this. I was in stitches about your Karate Kid analogy.

    As a kid I watched that film about 200 times and unfortunately almost know it word for word so it made a lot of sense to me.

    Very true.

  24. Sagna TV Sol Clichy
    Nasri Diaby Song
    Eboue NB AA

    We have to keep a clean sheet or it will be very hard to win. These frustrating lapses of concentration can not happen in this game.

    I love Theo, he will be a great player but I do not think we should get overly excited about 1 great game vs the worst defensive team in the league any more then we should not get depressed about a bad game. Eboue has been in great form and he gives us pace and strength and better defense on the right. If Theo starts I hope EE is at RB. Theo can still be a great impact sub.

    If Sol is fit we need him to fight with the Hulk. If not hold your breath and hope. Nasri did great in the Cesc role and I do not think we can risk Cesc.

  25. Mean Lean,

    Your comment about Wellington on the previous thread, about Arsenal staff drooling over Wellington.

    An anecdote to show you how funny a game football is and how incisive our scouting network is: When he was first linked to us, I asked a couple of friends who are massive Fluminense die-hards. They said they’d never heard of him, and thought he couldn’t be any good since they hadn’t heard of him!

    They mentioned a couple of kids who they considered Fluminense’s crown jewels mentioning that the Da Silva twins were about the best rated.

    Now that he’s progressed into the main ranks, they’re texting me during matches, excitedly to give me updates, saying he’ll be massive!

  26. Exactly, Flint McCullough. It’s not about priorities. Both competitions are of equal importance to AW and the squad. It’s about picking the right team to beat each different opponent under each new set of circumstances. Tomorrow’s game is a knock-out one, against a good side, so there was perhaps more chance of Cesc being ‘gambled’, than say, if the opponents were Hull – not a very good side. It does not mean we are prioritising one competition over another.

    Plenty of creatives to step up and pull the strings; Nas, Mozart are the obvious candidates but Arshavin, Eduardo, Diaby – they all love to find that killer final ball.

    If I had to decide, I’d pick Mozart ahead of Arsh. Playing very smoothly again now, delivers a better corner than Arsh which could be important with no Cesc, and works harder than our little Russian Maradona (read lay-about).

    Very glad to have Big Sol back. The perfect stand-in General. Hand Sol the armband and watch him lead us to victory!

  27. Team for tomorrow:

    Manuel
    Manny, Billy (we hope), Tommy, Gael
    Alex
    Nas & Abou
    Theo, Nik & Andre

    Eye thang yow!!!!!

    GO ON YOU REDS!

  28. – – – – – – – – – Almunia – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Sagna – Campbell – Vermaelen – Clichy
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – Song Billong- – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – Denilson – – – -Diaby – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Rosicky – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Nasri
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – Bendtner – – – – – – – – – –

    With The Eboue-Walcott double-act concealed as a secret weapon on the bench, under some official Arsenal towels.

    If Eduardo or Arshavin were fitter/sharper, then maybe one of Nas/Rosicky, and one of those two more out-and-out forward types. But you’ve got to go with form and Nas and Ros are in a rich vein, and they also win a lot of ball back for us. On paper we’ll have one up top, but really we’ll have 4.

  29. If AA turns up we will win comfortably.morzart can’t play 3 games in a week,not yet.a mf of nasri,diaby and song will cover AA’s defeciences defensively.elimination from cl would demoralise our squad and our season will spiral down to mediocrity hence it is not an option.

  30. this could be a blessing in disguise.

    Porto spent much of their energy on kicking cesc out of the game.

    Him gone will not give them a focal point to stifle our play.

    We have the players to make a creative difference regardless.

    And with sagna, campbell, song and denilson playing, clichy coming back to form and almunia in goal our defence should be very sturdy.

    The chances of Bendtner scoring are very high, he looked very sharp on saturday regardles of the misses.

  31. LA:

    great call last Friday about Theo, MOTM vs. Burnley. Hard to imagine keeping EE out the way he has been playing. He adds a lot to the team at RB or R wing. I think we need to defensive stability of Sagna in back even though we lose some offensive threat. Clean sheet is critical. Hope we do not have any brain cramps in the back. Sol being fit is HUGE.

    I think Diaby and NB or AA will score 2 -0.

  32. There is no danger of anything spiralling anywhere. We are not some untied, let-go balloon fizzing around against the ceiling. We are made of stern stuff this year; we are steely, ironlike, and other metallic things.

    Regardless of whether we are crowned Champions of England, or of Europe, of both, or of neither – our season will not even have come close to being ‘mediocre’. The fact that we are still fighting on both fronts, foreign and domestic, in March, should tell you that.

  33. Not lead though, LimparAssist, we don’t want to be lead. Fucking hate lead.

  34. I cant see Walcott not starting tomorrow. He is a confidence player and will be rearing to given the Porto left back a run for his life. I think it would be stupid not to start him; I think the challenge for Le’boss is the Ebuoe/Sagna dinasty.

  35. California Gooner

    This is a nice debate to have! Cesc is out, and we still have three or four good line-ups we can put out. My two cents are for speed on the right side. Playing Sagna and Rosicky has left us rather anemic in attack. That means either Eboue or Theo, or perhaps both. Nasri should be pulling the strings, and I would go with Arshivin early (to get the goal) and sub in Rosicky around 60 minutes. Obviously Song and Diaby are the other two midfielders.

  36. This would be Campbell’s first match at the Emirates in an Arsenal shirt. This others have been away. So, he would be up for it.

  37. GK: Almunia
    LB: Clichy
    CB: TV, Sol.C
    RB: Sagna
    MF: Song, Diaby, Nasri
    Wings: Eboue, Arshavin
    ST: Bendtner

    This lineup envisions bringing Rosicky, Walcott and Eduardo off the bench if needed.

  38. wellington silva is already showing Arsenal class. when asked about the club he’ll be joining in january:

    “I can’t say I’m ready, I’ve still got a lot of work to do, I don’t like to talk too much about Arsenal, I’m at Fluminense and I love this club. I know it’s many players’ dream (to play in Europe) and I’m no different but I owe Fluminense a lot and I’ll always remember this club.”

  39. VIVA ARSENAL!!!!

    Theo played exceptionally v Burnley, how many crosses from the right? All good. And the goal.

    Otherwise, things are shaping up quite nicely.

    Onwards and Porto. we will be up for this one without Cesc. Just beware their 2 speedy wingers!

    Arsenal is fabulous (and likeable too!).

  40. Best Arsenal squad I have ever known.

  41. If I had to listen to Arsene saying ‘Muskel’, all the time I’d go crazy.

    Someone teach him how to pronounce the word!

  42. Arshavin must start.The guy has that touch of class that can win any game

    Great to have Song back

    Still have my worries over Almunia.Great dive after Nugents shot had already gone pass him!!!!!!!

  43. The fact that we can draw up a strong list of players without the injured Fabregas is a testament that there is depth in the team.
    This depth has come about by the remarkable improvement of certain players like Diaby that everybody includes him in their list once he is fit.
    Fabregas would be missed by virtue of what his presence alone brings but, the team would cope without him as we did during the festive period.

  44. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Terrible news regarding Mark Linkous, Harry Flowers. May he rest in peace.

  45. Almunia

    Sagna Sol TV Clichy

    Walcott Song Diaby Rosicky

    AA23 NB52

    very close game.Porto are no mugs.Remember PSV 3 years ago

  46. Why do you keep changing your name? Freak.

  47. I am really starting to get excited about this one. I think Nasri in for Cesc will be an easy transition. Diaby and Song in the middle will dominate the Porto midfield.

    And, anyone doubting Nasri’s finishing ability should watch their words. The guy has ice water in his veins…if he is in the Cesc forward role tomorrow night he will get a goal!

  48. I think Arsenal shd not depend on any one player.Football is a team game .Of course there will be some high value players who
    make the team tick but if they are considered indispensable that will be too much. Opposition teams will mark out such a player until the team becomes impotent.

  49. yes of course we can call great players when fabregas when he aint playing but one things for sure, we are nowhere near the same team without him, teams fear us far less when cesc isnt playing we saw it a couple of times this season and an unhealthy amount of times last season.

    wow imagine if van persie got injured last season…..

    we would probably be top but be playing fulham or some unheard of belgian team in the europa league right now

  50. although it could work in our favor like soeone said earlier, they might relax just that little bit more in the knowledge cesc isnt playing.

    it will provide an excellent oppurtunity for nasri, diaby and walcott to deliver attacking from the left, centre and right respectively.

  51. AW does have a problem with some words. He pronounces Rosicky the wrong way too.

  52. They’re the ones who will be scared, not us, we have the league to fall back on whereas they dont, so they will certainly be feeling the pressure alongside the dissapointment of throwing away a 2-1 lead, i expect us to play fearlessly and eventually overcome the deficit. come on arsenal i cant wait..

  53. Zap,

    I completely agree…we definitley are not the same team without Cesc in the lineup. But, I really do feel our squad will be fine without him tomorrow night at home.

    Just think if RVP had not gotten injured this season…we would probably be six points clear at the top of the League table!

  54. “He added: “Chris Waddle? I heard what he said, but I don’t listen to people on the outside of football. I listen to those around me – the boss, Mr Capello and my family.””

    Theo Walcott, you’re very polite…you should say “I don’t listen to ass holes on the outside” But, I know you’re and Arsenal player, and you have class son.

    But from me, F*ck Off Waddle.

  55. I can’t listen to football programmes any more. I watch the International Rugby games on BBC and they give you the options of listening to their commentator, the radio coverage, the local TV coverage or just the stadium noise.

    Sky wouldn’t dare do that. Choice, eh?

    Forget them all.

    We are the Arsenal. We are on our own.

    Whatever the outcome now, this has been a great season for the club.

  56. I agree with ConsolsBob

  57. Forgive the capitalisation

  58. I agree with Frank who agrees with CBob.

  59. i think either arshavin or walcott but not both. rosicky or denilson. i see nasri starting: either in attack or in midfield. sagna should start ahead of eboue because we need to be secure defensively.

    i would prefer to rest fabregas. the porto players only know how to kick him, and that will only aggravate his condition.

    in any case, i believe we can go through without him. we are not a one-man team, unlike a certain team we know who wear red.

  60. Consolbob,

    The Egypt-Algeria FIFA broadcast with a live audio feed and no commentary. Engrossing, especially when the crowd were as intense as they were during that game.

    I’d dug up these gems earlier on a slow Monday. The Fast Show Massive were quite good at lampooning the p(l)unditry :

  61. Er, here are the links:

  62. Here, Here CB!! its been a great season, and i dont see too many pundits revisiting their predicitions of us falling out of the top 4!!

    ive enjoyed the debate surrounding which squad to pick, ive been checking arsenal.com religiously to see any updates regarding cesc.

    I think cesc will start on the bench and be used a la the Villa game. I think Nasri did well enough in that role to convince AW he can slot in. but will AW put him in the cesc role? or chose denilson in mid instead and have diaby be the “cesc” figure?

    i think walcott will start, not sure about AA, the arguments about TR’s defensive assistance bring it into question.

  63. Well, no7, Nottingham Forest’s over-reliance on Dele Adebola seems to have been curbed somewhat this season, with the acquisition of both Robert Earnshaw and Dexter Blackstock.

  64. consolsbob
    Agreed. There has been so much to be proud of this season. The boys, the boss, Ivan and the other members of the administration. Everyone has been fantastic, an absolute class act.

    As for Sky, they would never do that because the commentary and the pundits play a big part in the way that they control the flow of information in football. I think that if the people are getting the exact same over all view and perspective it makes it easier to customise the programming for them. Advertising is an intricate and complex science. The more variables you controls the easier your job.

  65. oh and i would LOVE to have the option of just listening to the crowd noise during the match. thats the main reason i dont mute during matches, bc i love to hear the crowd!!

    glad that got brought up!

  66. Nope.

    No links.

    Well, these three clips off youtube were fun:

    1) Mike Basset: England Manager. (The movie). His half time team talk.

    2) Ron Manager from The Fast Show commenting on Gary Linekar

    3) Jose Arroganito compilation, probably from The Fast Show again.

  67. in fact, i usually have it turned up really loud to hear the crowd, especially when we’re at home

  68. limpar,

    you know i am referring to another team 😉

  69. Arshavin's Barber

    ou ou aa aa andrie’s vos only on zee pitch for a little time but he show his class again.

  70. G4E:

    completey agree about walcott, he’s clearly got that class about him that comes from being at such a presitigious club.

    great too see him standing up for himself twice, once on the pitch (WHICH WAS AWESOME) and now off it..

    hope your ready to tear it up tomorrow THEO!!

  71. a very accurate description of arshavins performance from arshavin’s barber right there.

  72. Yes, I do. I’m just being silly.

  73. i loved the crowds reaction to bentdner hopefully he can repay them with a good performance tomorrow

  74. NJGooner, I loved it when Theo stood up for himself and pretty much his team on the pitch.

    I have to say though, that if this was Nasri or Denilson he would immediately get a card for pushing the other player…but we know of course why he didn’t get the card.

  75. yea G4E… i dont know about you and everyone else, but I got VERY fried seeing Theo stand up for himself like that. whenever i see our players doing it, nasri a couple times in past matches, it just makes my blood pump and my pride swell. im left pounding on the cannon on my shirt and with a menacing grin on my face. We are the Arsenal, and we will not be stopped from doing things our way.

    and yes, embarassingly obvious why he didnt receive a card. I think one of the first, most reasonable, and level headed things the FA could do to combat the xenephobia of the league without fully acknowledging its existence is allow non-English referees. when i learned of that rule, so much more about the treatment of Arsenal players made sense to me.

    lets get some discussion on this!

  76. got VERY fired up**

    getting ahead of myself

  77. With the way English Media & FA currently operates, they would never allow foreign referees in their local league as they would review that as “Weakness”.

    They only way they would allow it, if it is a European thing.

  78. G4E – weakness because it would be like them bending to the outsiders whims?

    and yes it wuold be awesome if it was a uefa mandate. but that seems doubtful, and in practice it would be extremely chaotic especially for the refs themselves. game in Spain on Sunday, England mid-week, Italy the next wekend.. etc

  79. I don’t think that’s true, G4E. I think if you asked most football fans in this country who their favourite ever referee was, a great many would say Pierluigi Collina. Even jingoistic media hacks. And if you told them we could have a referee as elite as that refereeing in the premiership, rather than really, really shit ones like, say, Martin Atkinson, noone would hesitate. But then, for every Martin Atkinson in England, there’s a Martin Hansson in Europe, isn’t there?

    I’d like to see a few of the best referee’s in the world come over, and we can send some of our lot out to face different challenges (no pun intended) in Serie A, La Liga etc.

    I actually think English referees would have a far harder time of it from fans in those leagues, than international refs would have here, personally. Because our game has leant further in favour of the attacker, than those leagues have gone the other way.

    I think refs from around the world should at least have an open dialogue going, if not meet up and train together and learn from each other a couple of times a year. I’m not sure if that happens already or not.

  80. come on arsenal forza arsenal viva arsenal camannnnnnnnnnnnnn

  81. Delia- Block 112

    There’s enough skill and power to do the job tomorrow night if the attacking players perform the way they did on Saturday. The doubts are on our ability to keep a clean sheet, otherwise it is going to be very tricky! Just to remind every one that we haven’t come back from an away deficit in a European match for 30 years !

  82. Agree with Consolsbob.. whatever the fuck he said…

  83. I’m nervous but see it thusly: Even at their ground they wouldn’t have scored if we hadn’t given them two gifts.

  84. AW on Theo: “He’s a fighter. A polite fighter!”
    Brilliant.

  85. Arshavin's Barber

    dont vurry comrades andrie vill get ze goals tommorow nite to make up for ze blunders of fabianski.

  86. I agree Vince.. two HUGE gifts, got them two goals. they did look threatening at times, particularly in the first half, but i think theyll come out trying to contain arsenal, and we know how that has worked for most teams this season

  87. allezzz arsenal

  88. allez algeriaa

  89. arshavins barber is a very wise and clever man, as you can see through his comments

  90. English referees are absolutely fucking awful. Trouble is…European referees are worse. Collina was an exception.

  91. There is a refereeing crisis in world football and FIFA, UEFA and the sweet FAs haven’t a clue how to deal with it….and the press, media and pundits have not even noticed or are in denial. Why is that?

  92. The one problem to which everyone would welcome FIFA, UEFA and the sweet FAs, intervention……They can’t do it. Don’t know how. Utterly fucking useless.

  93. Wigan 1-0 Liverpool XD

  94. algeria will beat englend like we beat west germany in 1982

  95. Ha, Rodallega scores, Wigan lead Liverpool 1-0. ‘Pool have been just awful, three bookings for them already.

    Wigan do play some good stuff when they get their game going and N’Zogbia of all people has again been really good.

  96. 1 loose cannon

    Some very good news on Ramsey. Standing on his leg already and without plaster, they used metal rods, a new procedure I guess.

    http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/sport/football/749013/REMARKABLE-DEVELOPMENTS-FOR-RAMSEY.html

  97. As far as Fabianski, Sylvestre and Denilson won’t be playing, we’ll be fine against Porto.

  98. i hope they kill usa. kill themmmmmm

  99. anaconda its the new surface thats got wigan playing well again at home did you see the old one? a mudbath!

  100. Liverpool are shockingly poor… I know Wigan have carefully churned the pitch into a nice soup in preparation for this match, but still.

  101. Yeah zap I did see that, and it has been awful before. Let’s hope it stays in quite decent condition when The Arsenal goes to visit them.

    Did you think Insua should have been sent off? I thought so.

    Liverpool are so bad they don’t deserve anything from the game, but maybe Stevie-me comes up with some good dives in the second half.

  102. The pitch is in good condition at Wigan (for a change)

  103. It doesn’t look that bad. Paul Fletcher on BBC live text was saying it’s pretty crappy, but then maybe he was just trying to find an excuse for why Liverpool are complete shit.

    Insua should have been sent off for sure, anaconda.

  104. I’m excited…can’t wait for tomorrow

  105. Looking ahead at the fixture list, the team that could have the greatest impact on the title race is Spurs.

    In three consecutive league games they play Arsenal and Chelsea on the 10th and 17th April and then Man United away on the 25th.

  106. me too ole.

    I realy excited for where this club is going in general too.

    So much too look forward too.

  107. so excited i added an exra o

  108. Liverpool on 5 bookings now.

  109. …and they’ve lost! What’s that, like their 9th defeat? Mental.

  110. ahahahahahaha XD 1-0 FT

  111. bad bad times for liverpool.

    I hape they nail man u and chelsea

  112. of course i mean hope

  113. Gerrard was so poor tonight, he didn’t dive once.

  114. Yeah they are looking dreadful, but they do seem to step it up a bit for the high profile games. If they can take some points off chelsea and man u, that would be wonderful.

  115. Poor Liverpool are really struggling at the moment, I just hope they can pull out all the stops when they meet chelski and manu. They will be in need of the points and we need them to do us a favour as well.

  116. Pool will raise their game against better oppostion.

    I can see them nicking draws off both utd and chelski.

  117. well to be honest, i am rooting for villa to get the 4th spot.

    it would be disgusting to see man city in the champions league.

    and it would be interesting to see what happens if liverpool doesnt get champs league football next season.

    the thought of spurs playing in the champions’ league is horrifying as well.

    anyway, i think liverpool can beat both utd and chelsea and still not finish 4th.

  118. I have a feeling that pool will beat both Chelsea and United, especially United.

  119. Happy for Wigan too – Martinez is one of the very few ‘good guys’ in the EPL, and stood by AW in the Aaron nastiness. All good, especially with Hull being thrashed by yet another decent team.

  120. I’m not sure I’m pleased Wigan got a result…the thought of Man City, or god forbid, Spurs nabbing 4th spot is too awful to contemplate. Having said that Martinez IS a really likeable manager so I hope Wigan stay up.

    On the plus side it will mean Liverpool will have to step it up against Chelsea and Man Poo. God they were absolutely woeful tonight though.

  121. whos our first choice penalty taker tomorow if edu dosent start?

  122. Paul,

    yeah, liverpool beating both man u and chelsea will console those pundits. at least they can then claim liverpool ought to be champions because they won it for arsenal.

  123. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Deano,

    Super Nic Bendtner without a doubt. B-)

  124. “who’s our first choice penalty taker tomorow if edu doesn’t start?”

    Don’t say that, I’ll be at the game tomorrow and I don’t think my heart could take penalties!

  125. Unleash the EBOUE! He’s going to knock in a brace and set up two more for AA.

    Seriously… how much do you love the way this team is coming together in the clutch? So many players coming up big just when we need them too. They may not be perfect, but I’ll be damned if there’s not plenty of reason to always love the Arsenal.

  126. Mean Lean @ 2:03 pm

    I’m honoured! Thanks for the compliment.

  127. California Gooner

    Passenal, for me it has to be Nasri. Very tricky, very cool. I’m sure he’s good at it.

  128. Jack Scurvy talks a lot of sense for a pirate (I am, I admit always on the side of the pirate, and the poacher for that matter).

    arrr … you gotta love the arrrsenal, ya know

    Mr. Ponyboy, where you been?

    Africa loves Arsenal!!!!!

  129. Hello Delia, true, and we also hadn’t won at Brittania stadium since the … oh lord … since the great rindepest outbreak of … was it 1911?

    But we did it this year.

    Let’s just say we have a decent chance. I hope we score, for the first time this season, in the first 15 minutes. Then it’s ‘game on’ and may the best win.

  130. “….and may the best win.” Zimpaul obviously you mean us, IMHO we are always the best team despite who our opponent is or how good they are.

    If it went 2-1 to the arsenal then it would be penalties..right? God forbid, I also dont think my hear would hold going on to penalties.

  131. Wenger claims, they don’t pratice penalties the day before a match. Yikes!!

  132. Maria, he also explained that to miss penalties in practice the day before a game might affect a player’s confidence.

    It won’t go to penalties anyway.

    ….Arsenal….

  133. For those overcome with fear about tonight’s game….

    http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=665245378996958000#

  134. Lets not speak of penalties… We have only had a 2 day gap really since the last game, I think most of the training would have been tactical and getting people revitalised for the game.

    We have a crop of players ready to deliver, and I cant get my head round the selection. Even after reading everyones comments, the news on Arsenal.com, i still cant pick a team and be confident that is what wenger will go with. I have a funny feeling that Sagna will step in at RB with Eboue in front, but what does that tell Theeoo.. tricky situation for Wenger. I do believe Arsh will start, the last time we left him out of a high profile game was against Chelsea in the Cup, and we all know what happened then!

    We have the quality in what ever team he puts out. With Sol back alongside Vermanator and Almunia in goal we should be strong at the back. I’m hoping for a goal in the 1st half, so then Porto can come out and we catch them for the 2nd. I’m not hoping for us to go out all guns blazing like last season against Man Utd, we got ripped apart on the counter. Porto ain’t a bad team so we must be cautious in our play and professional.

    – – – – – – – – – Almunia – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Sagna – Campbell – Vermaelen – Clichy
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – Song Billong- – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – Nasri – – – – – -Diaby – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Theo – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Arshavin
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    – – – – – – – – – Bendtner – – – – – – – – – –

    This is my guess, but i doubt ive got it right!

  135. Nice video Perry

  136. chrisGoona.

    I think the team you mentioned is the one that makes the most sense for Arsene to use.

    If we need to score as the match progresses, he will probably look to bring on Eboue for Sagna, Rosicky for a tiring Arshavin, and if we are really desperate late on then Eduardo for Nasri or Song.

    Just possibly, Arsene might have Eboue in front of Sagna to start out and being on Theo after the interval.

  137. Eboue has been amazing this year, dont u just love watching the defender absolutely shi**in himself when Eboue pauses and twinkles his leg!!

  138. Ruben Micael made the most of Arsenal’s costly mistake in the first leg, when stand-in keeper Lukasz Fabianski picked up a backpass from Sol Campbell, which Swedish referee Martin Hansson allowed to be taken quickly as Falcao swept the ball into an empty net.

    The Portugal midfielder said: “The goal counted, and it was not me who put the ball on the floor – the referee gave me the ball, put it down, he let me play. That would not happen in Portuguese football, they would not let us play, so it is good they do that in the Champions League.”

  139. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    WTF?

  140. Hoping not to end like compatriot Philippe Senderos, 16-year old Sead Hajrovic was speaking to Arsenal’s official website about what it meant to him joining Arsenal. The Bosnian-born defender revealed scouts from the North London club have been following him for two years, adding how it was a “shock” to find out he would join one of the most powerful academies in European football.

    Hajrovic started his career with Grasshopper Club Zürich with reports revealing that before joining the Gunners, the likes of Manchester United and Everton were all interested to sign him but knowing how well young prospects mature with Arsenal, he opted to sign for them.

    The youngster explained:

    This was the Club for me because I came over and saw how things were done and the facilities and it felt right. I know that this is a club that gives young players a chance and that too was a factor that I found attractive.

    I now know that scouts were watching me for a couple of years, but I did not know of Arsenal’s interest until after I played for my national side. The Chief Scout Steve Rowley came to watch that game on his own I understand and he then contacted my coaches and parents.

    It was a shock to me at first. I was very excited and now I am here.

  141. I am feeling this nervous @ 9am in the morning god help me.

  142. This http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/porto-an-early-kick-off-for-all-gooners is a good idea, slightly sad that’s it needed – but seeing as it is, it’s a good idea and more than welcome. Someone trying to whip up some atmosphere. O for the Ems to be revered as a firey cauldron!

    Massive game tonight. I feel all twitchy and weird and it’s only half 9. Frank’s baby panda sneeze does help.

  143. Deep breathing, Maria.

    It’s never done anything for me but there are many who swear by it.

    I prefer alcohol but it is a little early perhaps.

  144. Speaking of alcohol, I want one of these:

    “Death in the Afternoon” also refers to a cocktail invented by Hemingway: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.” It first appeared in a 1935 collection of cocktail recipes by famous authors of the time, edited by Sterling North and Carl Kroch: ‘So Red the Nose, or, Breath in the Afternoon.’

    Well actually, I suppose I ought to have three to five of them…

  145. I know an antique absinthe seller. Actually he is not very old, but the absinthe is. He has suffered all sorts of problems with licencing in France and the UK over the years. In France because the wine producers are a powerful lobby and tried to have absinthe drummed out of the country…which is how he sells it actually, to the Brits who obey every single European law unlike any other European country unless it pertains to tracking its citizens by camera or state controlled database.

  146. Anyway get a grip, chaps. If you feel nervous don your red and white stuff and hit the streets, the escalators, the fields and sing at the top of your voice.

    Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal….Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenaa aaal…Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal….Arsenal….ARSENAL

  147. Remember what happened to Hemingway, Limpar.

    Let it be a warning to stick to wholesome drinks like, er, scrumpy.

    I’m with Frank on this. I don’t feel at all nervous today but I will take his advice anyway.

  148. how long will gallas be out?

  149. Arsenal have been rocked by the news defender William Gallas is facing another month on the sidelines with a calf problem.

    Gallas has been on the sidelines since the 1-0 victory over Liverpool last month and boss Arsene Wenger has now confirmed the defender is facing more time on the treatment table after he broke down in training.

    Wenger says they probably tried to rush him back too early and the Gunners boss is now unsure when the Frenchman will be able to return.

    “Gallas has been out for a month and now he has had a recurrence of his calf injury,” Wenger said. “He felt very well on Sunday and went out but he has gone backwards again. We are at the starting point with Gallas unfortunately.

  150. hopefully he will be back for spurs.

    and sol can last till then

    silvestre is really not reassuring.

  151. it will be chop and change for sol and silvestre..

    who would have believe sol campbell would become so key to our title aspirations this season.

  152. Sol will not be found wanting.

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