Tuesday: Champions League Special

But then today, I read this comment from Diaby:

“Whatever their form is like, they are still packed with great players who can make the difference at any time. However, they are not in their best form – maybe it’s an opportunity for us to make the most of it and profit from it. That’s not the main thing, though. We will concentrate on our game knowing that if we play we have a good chance. We have the quality here to win the Champions League, so we will give it everything.”

Abou Diaby is not usually a player who inspires me with much confidence, but the young lad has a quiver of a point. Taking away the second half of the Sp*rs game away (where Sp*rs capitulated big time), the last 10 games for United have seen them labour to get results. They’re overwhelming favourites and no doubt, they will attack. But we have the ability to overcome them if our tactics, attitude and concentration are spot on. The culprits for our last goal against Liverpool (in my opinion) were the midfield for not tracking the opposition, and we need clever thinking from all round the pitch.

In all honesty, I think we really need to defend this one. We need to go there solid at the back and protect our defence. We need to defend all over the pitch. Having Nasri in front of Gibbs will hopefully mean that we’ve got two players defending Ronaldo – I was a little concerned when we played Villareal that we weren’t covering that side well enough. Maybe that’s why Arsene may switch Diaby and Nasri – but can Diaby be disciplined on the left of midfield?

But the best form of defence is always attack, and although we have to be measured, an away goal – a 1-0 win, would be awesome. Ade’s record up there is pretty good and the Togan had this to say:

“When you get onto the pitch the people around will be singing against you, they will be hating you, and that can give you more motivation. I know they do not like me there because I managed to get a goal, and you just feel like ‘Okay, I will show you again how good I am. In three games there I have scored two goals and I know it will not be easy to get another one, but I will give 100 per cent to do everything it takes to score or to help my team win the game.”

“We know how good they are and it is going to be an exciting game for English football. It is going to be tough, but we just have to believe we can do it, that we can win this cup. That is why we are here. We have the quality in the squad and are in form.”

Very edgy and nervy stuff hey?

The plus points is that in the last month, we have had the opportunity to rest various players such as Ade, Walcott and Nasri and as a result, combine that with a fresh Cesc, we really can go the distance. We’re not tired, we’re young, we’re raring to go – Arsene agrees.

Our vice-captain, Kolo Toure has also been in the press talking about the defence. He says that Gibbs has earnt his place in the team and deserves to play and he’s also said he doesn’t mind who he plays next to. His words:

“Let Gibbs play,” the Ivorian said. “He is a good player and very intelligent. He came in at a really difficult time when we play the big teams and I think he has showed good character and I am really happy for what he has done for the Club.  Its always really difficult when you are young and you come in to play against the big players. I think he is going to perform very well on Wednesday. Ronaldo is a really good player. But it’s not only about Gibbs – it is about all the players. If we are focused and defend together then nobody can beat us.”

“I have been here for seven years and I have played with 10 or maybe more different players.  The good thing is that Johan is a really good and intelligent player. It’s a shame that Silvestre is injured.”

I believe Djourou has the ability and I’m glad that he’s getting this opportunity. He deserves it with his displays this season.

Anyone else nervous? But at the same time very excited, but at the same time very nervous but excited but nervous… but…

More tomorrow.]]>

  • Fabrez

    Well personally, I’m calm for now…but I know I will get up tomorrow like a man who has an exam in a few hours and has no idea what he’s going to write! I’ll b nervous then…actually, I think i got a tad bit nervous after I read ur blog dev! The occassion hasn’t hit me like a ton of bricks but 2morro is THE day! Tomorrow will demonstrate whether all the talk our boys talk can be replicated on the pitch. You feel as if this year can be a special one for the Arsenal in the CL. Arsene has dealt with a lot from media and fans alike this term but I do believe in him. We ourselves as fans haven’t had it easy either but this could just be our time to show what kind of spirit, character, belief, determination and drive we have as a Club…to be crowned the Kings of Europe. I feel the need to be quietly confident… I’ve just got a little bit more nervous… C’mon Gunners!

  • jat85

    < ![CDATA[i cant take it any more! the tension is killing me!

    haven't slept well since sunday, have had no appetite, no concentration.

    could this be our time? all the disappointments over the years, all the heartbreak. surely the tide is about to turn!

    Believe.]]>

  • unspoken

    < ![CDATA[oh damn...

    i'm having exams 4 hours after the game and i'm more nervous about the game rather than my exams. lol.

    c'mon gunners. give me a morale boosting win!.

    our form have been quite good against the big teams. *excluding the chelsea fa cup match.

    let's hope the form continues.

    we more or less got our first team back cept for gallas and clichy.
    anyone else i left out?]]>

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[I go to face book and and hear comments people make about Arsenal being not good enough for the Champions league. It baffles me that this lad don't just get it. It is understood that we are least favourites for this match, but am confident we have a bit of balance and can do something special, at least what I do know is that Fergie is scared and pretty much too.

    But as long as I don't see Diaby or Denilson, I won't have anything to worry about.]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    < ![CDATA[You hear that sound? It's Barcelona licking their lips. Go to Stamford Bridge, score and they are more or less through. You certainly wouldn't expect Chelsea to score very many against Barca and I'm pretty sure Barca will match their scoring.

    And it's made me scared. We need an away goal. United will score at the Emirates I’m confident of that – and I reckon we could score a couple. But we need, have to, must score a vital away goal. It would make all the difference.

    Dev, I can’t sleep/eat properly either. Mainly because I really think Arsenal have a great chance this season and because I also think they’ll mess it up! Not normally negative, and this game could literally go both ways it’s so exciting it’s actually hurting.]]>

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[At the moment, I'm neither worried nor nervous, which is very unusual for me. I'm feeling quite confident cos I know we are capable, but so are Man U. I think the game might just be won on a piece of individual brilliance or a massive error I hope the brilliance is from our team. But it's definitely one of those games that are hard to call, and I just think (and hope!) Man U might underestimate us a bit. I'm thinking like with Porto, but the thing to remember is that no matter how well we do today, the 2nd leg will be crucial cos United will always fancy their chances at the Emirates. We've got defensive problems, but I'm sure whoever we've got will play like it's the biggest game of their life, which it is. Almunia will be key for us, but the back four have to protect him as much as they can. And please, whoever happens to be playing up front, or whoever has a goal-scoring opportunity, TAKE it! There won't be too many, so we've got take our chances.
    I fancy us to progress over the 2 legs, I really do. Although I'm wary of us scoring an early goal (like in the first 20mins), cos I think we always find it difficult to hold a lead for a long period of time- but I wouldn't mind us scoring 2 in that time though! lol.
    I'm honestly feeling very confident, we've got a solid semi-final record in Europe, and I hope it's not going to be heartbreak this time around. But yeah, it's going to be nail-biting through-out, and I can't wait!
    Coem on you gunners!!!!]]>

  • Fabrez

    < ![CDATA[I've just been hit by the said bricks and I lack serious focus! I'm as nervous as they come...I got up so confused it aint funny!

    "it's so exciting it's actually hurting" - Yes it is Kieran!

    I need 2 go eat...if I don't, I'll just not focus until about 7:45 pm!]]>

  • Fabrez

    And u have broken the trend debs! lol Not nervous? Can i borrow ur nerves then? haha! I can’t wait either!!!

  • Dan

    < ![CDATA[Kieran, bang on about Chelsea. I can't believe they played for a 0-0, not even a glimmer of attacking. They have left themselves in a bit of a hole now.

    ... oh and yeah, i'm positively soiling myself as i type. Gonna be way too tense!]]>

  • Gooner Get Ya

    < ![CDATA[I am worried for our defence as I have heard Gibbs is a doubt for the game tonight? Any one got any info on why?

    No Clichy, Gibbs or Silvetre? That would mean that Sagna at LB and Eboue at RB.....please tell me it isn't true!!!

    I am really, really nervous now!!]]>

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[He's got an ankle problem, and Silvestre has a back problem, but they'll face late fitness tests this morning. It will be Djourou and Toure at CB, Sagna at RB, then whichever one of Silvestre and Gibbs happens to be fit enough...
    I'll send you my nerves Fabrez, but I'll need them back at 7pm! lol :P]]>

  • Debs

    Groin problem, not ankle problem for Gibbs…

  • ny

    < ![CDATA[no idea who is going to play on left wing.Nasri already
    had 2 concecutive starts and may be suffering from fatigue.Arshavin is cup tied and who is next?]]>

  • Gooner Get Ya

    AW may go with Diaby ok the left with Nasri in the middle…well until Diaby gets booked trying to keep up with Ronaldo. :-)

  • gun5

    < ![CDATA[Splinters are very painful. Ask Alexander Hleb's arse. He sits on the bench so often at Barcelona his arse gets splinters all the time. The six minute cameo he had last night gave his backside a welcome break from the ninety minute splintering it usually receives. And what a six minute cameo it was. He almost scored. To be honest I don't know whether I wanted Hleb to score or not. On one hand it would have helped knock Chelsea out but on the other it would have meant seeing Hleb score! Who do I hate most?! Seeing Hleb in a Barca shirt used to upset me. I rated him but not his money and ice-cream grabbing ways. Now of course we have Arshavin, Hleb with bollocks, so who needs Hleb anyway? I'm just gutted that Arshavin won't feature tonight. I feel that he gives a fear factor to Arsenal that we have lacked slightly this season. The boys will cope though. I really fancy us against Manchester United just like I fancy Chelsea to knock out Barcelona with a Fat Frank Lampard deflected shot after fours minutes and then defend for the rest of the game.

    It's gonna be a Champions League London derby people!]]>

  • parsi09

    Mr Wenger, here’s to offer you my full support for the game tonight and the ones to follow – to go all out and win this Champions League starting with the knockout of Manchester United. I believe in you, your assistance, the medical staff and the lads. I believe that our club has turned the corner and we are set to win many more trophies, playing beautiful football, developing young players and buying experienced on a need to have basis. The philosophy is sustainable and worthy of emulation. Come Gooners!

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[D-Day! Was pretty calm and confident about getting a result before coming online this morning, but now am a nervous, jittering bafoon lol. Perhaps scoring is more important for us tonight and defending more important for us next week. One things for sure, if we want that place in the final we'll really need to fight for it. Last nights Barca - Chelsea game was hardly a spectacle, somehow I feel this may be different.

    For us I feel Theo is a threat to them. Evra didn't seem to handle Aaron Lennon brilliantly on the weekend, so perhaps Theo can exploit that area and create oppertunity. I really hope Ade has one of his brilliant days today as we could do with it.

    It's interesting to think back to November when we beat them in the league 2-1, we played 4-5-1 with Bendtner up front, so I'm wondering if perhaps Arsene will go for a similar approach to help get the team defending as a whole. Be brilliant if Nasri get's another two goals for us again :-)

    As an aside, did anyone catch Fever Pitch on Film4 last night? Thats got to be a good sign for us right? A film about an Arsenal supporter being shown the night before a big game :D

    Good luck for tonight lads! Give the Red Devils hell!!!]]>

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Predicted lineup time:

    Almunia

    Sagna Toure Djourou Gibbs

    Theo Cesc Song Diaby Nasri

    Ade]]>

  • Fabrez

    I’ll can’t make any promises about that return time Debs! lol It’s Gibbs’ groin? I thought Arsene said ankle at the press conference? But the website is saying groin…watever it is, hope he’s fit in time to play. And it was nice 2 see Edu in training! Wonder if he’ll feature? On the bench at least i hope! We so miss that fox-in-the-box aspect that Edu brings! But that left wing is a bit of an issue…i hope Samir has enuff gas in the tank…he’ll have a bit of motivation from his 2 goals against them earlier this season i’d think.

  • Dan

    < ![CDATA[Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger will resume their rivalry when Manchester United and Arsenal lock horns in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final clash on Wednesday.
    The fixture has historically delivered its fair share of memorable moments, many of those coming in the 13 years since Wenger took up the reins in north London.

    In that time Ferguson and Wenger have met 37 times in competitive action, with the Frenchman edging their intense duel with 15 wins to 14.

    More often than not, however, the rivalry has spilled over into verbal sparring, with neither manager afraid to speak up in defence of their respective clubs and players.
    And although there are now signs of an entente cordialle between the pair, we recall some of the pair's memorable quotations.

    WENGER ON FERGUSON

    "Never again will I speak about that man." - Wenger attempts to step away from the feud with Ferguson which erupted after a fiery league clash in October 2004.

    "I'm ready to take the blame for all the problems of English football if that is what he wants." - Wenger responds after Ferguson questions Arsenal's lack of homegrown players.
    "Ferguson should calm down. Maybe it would have been better if he had put us against a wall and shot us." - more fallout from the testy October 2004 encounter.

    "Ferguson's out of order. He has lost all sense of reality. He is going out looking for a confrontation, then asking the person he is confronting to apologise. He's pushed the cork in a bit far this time and lost a lot of credibility by saying what he said." - more bickering from January 2005.

    "When we meet in airports we don't fight. Those meetings are even funny." - Wenger lifts the lid on a more cordial relationship with Ferguson.

    "(The rivalry) dropped off for two years because we were not good enough. But I missed it greatly. This fixture is about tradition because in the last 10 years a lot of these games were the decider for the league championship" - Wenger laments the cooling of the competition with Ferguson in recent seasons.

    FERGUSON ON WENGER

    "They say he's an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages. I've got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages." - Ferguson plays down Wenger's linguistic dexterity in 2003.

    "It's certainly not wrong that you should be seen to have a proportion of home-based players. I totally agree with that. But it would be a problem for a club like Arsenal." - Ferguson has a sly dig at Arsenal's foreign policy when questioned about Fifa's 'six-plus-five' proposal.

    "He's a novice - he should keep his opinions to Japanese football." - Ferguson sticks the knife in during the early days of Wenger's Arsenal tenure.

    "Their behaviour was the worst thing I have seen in this sport. They got off scot-free." - more aggro from the 2004/05 season.
    "In the tunnel Wenger was criticising my players, calling them cheats, so I told him to leave them alone and behave himself. He ran at me with hands raised saying 'what do you want to do about it?' It's a disgrace, but I don't expect Wenger to ever apologise, he's that type of person." - Ferguson really gets stuck into Wenger in January 2005.

    "Arsene Wenger disappoints me when he is reluctant to give Manchester United credit for what we have achieved. When Arsenal captured the Double in 1998 I held my hands up and praised them unreservedly... I suppose I will just have to accept that, between Old Trafford and Highbury, appreciation is pretty much a one-way street." - Ferguson lets his pen to do the talking in his autobiography, 'Managing My Life', in 2000]]>

  • Debs

    You’ve got no choice Fabrez, mate! :)

  • zohaib

    Ferguson is such a biatch !

  • Gooner Get Ya

    < ![CDATA[Good work Dan some good spats between the two managers over the years.

    My most memorable occasion against the Manc's was Keown celebrating and jumping into Van Nistleroy (sorry for the spelling). That was hilarious :-).

    Any one else have some good memories against the Manc's?]]>

  • unspoken

    < ![CDATA[HAHA. oh yea. keown really jumped and waved so happy. i was damn happy too when i was watching it. but he really was overjoyed. haha..

    iirc, ferguson got a pizza on his head right?]]>

  • ian

    its quite apparent that most fans are totally behind Wenger and the team , there will always be the few, who wouldnt dare say anything down the Emirates or face to face with real Arsenal fans but they can be brave behind their screennames.Actually they are really sad little individuals and I doubt they are real fans. None of them actually can put a good argument together and when faced with questions they have no answer to just ignore them, its these “so called fans” who have also relied on multiple posting ids to try to give themselves some support, how sad is that?

  • debs

    < ![CDATA[I'm beginning to feel the nerves coming a little bit now- it's definitely building! I might need those nerves soon enough Fabrez! lol
    I'm really looking forward to this match, and hopefully it's a claasic!!!]]>

  • Fabrez

    Even with ur nerves i’m still so nervous! lol So that means u can’t have em back…or else i’d have a complete mental breakdown…n u don’t want that to happen 2 ur fellow gooner do ya? lol Ok..i’ll give u back some :P Epic game i’d imagine…it’s rite around the corner…not long to go!

  • Fabrez

    And I’m guessin Zohaib is having a torrid time with his internet…haven’t heard from him 4 a while…

  • Pissed off

    Am not sure. I guess Zohaib is nervous and surely won’t like to commit himself till the match ends

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Just over 2 hours to go!!! Very nervous/excited! Hope the lads do some damage and and perform well. We should be up for this, Sundays game didn't seem to take too much out of us.

    Just out of interest, where is everyone watching it? At home/pub? Anyone actually there? My mate has travelled all the way up to Old Traffod today (something 99% of Man United fans haven't done lol). He was even on Sky Sports News earlier :D

    Me, I'm off to my mates to watch it. We tend to watch the Sky games round his and the Setanta games in our local!

    Hope we can all enjoy the game :D]]>

  • Fabrez

    I’m off to a pub to take it in…should b a crazy atmosphere in there! Can look at it hat home too but the atmosphere is always good in the presence of fellow Gooners! :D

  • debs

    < ![CDATA[I'll let you keep them Fabrez, just this once! lol I'm still pretty calm though, impressive! Maybe it's cos I'm not in front of the telly or listening on the radio to the build-up. But there's a knot in my stomach and it's only gonna get bigger!
    I'm watching the match in the pub with a Man U fan and a few other ppl Pete. The last match we watched together was the Man U Liverpool game where Liverpool thrashed them. Maybe that's a sign and we'll get a similar result. What I'll give to get that result!]]>

  • Fabrez

    Cheers debs! :P I’m not focused rite about now! And i’d take a 4-1 then tell Diaby, Nasri and Song to get yellow cards… Cuz they r all 1 each away from suspension! A bit worrying! :(

  • debs

    Yeah, the yellow cards thing is a big issue. I’d make sure they got booked if we got a handsome lead too! lol. VP is on one too. Hopefully the ppl getting carded aren’t ours! lol

  • Fabrez

    Well i’m off to the pub…i hope we all meet up here again in a jubilant mood!! Gunnersssssssssssssssssssssssssss! Come on!

  • debs

    The nerves are definitely here, full force! My fingers are shaking! Come on you gunners!

  • http://kierandelaney.net/ kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[What a load of shit. Arsenal had no ideas. We had one shot on target. Adebayor was woeful - even Andy 'I love Emanuel Adebayor' Gray reckoned he was having a shit night. Bendtner is still shit.

    We just looked out of ideas.

    Except at left back.We had probably the best player on the pitch. They had the rest.

    Dreadful really. At least we had Almunia back - the man is a rock.]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net/ kierandelaney.net/blog

    Actually – Nasri was ok – certainly made Cesc look like treacle a few times.

  • Pissed off

    Well, till we meet again next week.

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[Nasiri and Song were both a yellow card away to suspension, that to me didn't really help. I will have to comment Gibbs for his intelligence, Nasiri for his new role, Song for his aggression and all praises should be showered to Alumnia and Toure who has gone back to his old self.

    But it wont be easy for us I must say, but there is hope, a very big one, but only if Ade will raise his game and swallow his ego.]]>

  • Debs

    Got mixed emotions really. Disappointed we didn’t really do much, actually we did nothing, but on the other hand, slightly happy United only scored one goal, cos if they did score more, we’re as good as out. Obviously it’s not over at the moment, and we’ve got all to do next week. Hopefully we’ll have VP and Clichy back, and we’ll have locked Ade somewhere and thrown the key away, cos he was a waste of space really. The only thing I can see helping us is if Man u think the tie is over, cos their fans seem to think so. We’ve got to do much much much more, but Man U may have missed a trick by not scoring more…

  • Debs

    Almunia made some really really good saves and Gibbs did well too. Toure made some important tackles. We weren’t as bad as we expected at the back, but we weren’t as good as we expected going forward. Don’t think Cesc enjoyed playing where he did and we just seemed to give the ball away a lot in the final third. There’s still hope though, but a slim one. Our game has to be seriously upped…

  • Willsscott

    < ![CDATA[I watched the game in Manchester, in a pub with a ratio of probably 250 United fans:1 Arsenal fan! Poor game imo, Think Wenger got it wrong playing cesc off ade, personally I'd have swapped cesc and nasri. At the emirates we should have RvP back and Clichy, although Gibbs did himself proud tonight, which should give us some encouragement. Hopefull we will go all out from the off and get an early goal. Ade was poor tonight, as far as I remember he got above Rio and Vidic most of the time but headed it nowhere! If I was Wenger I'd go with RvP and Eduardo up top, with Theo, cesc, song and nasri in midfield.

    A 2-0 win isn't impossible, even according to some United fans, but we will seriously need to up our game!]]>

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[Told me self I will kill me self if Diaby played. He was so annoying, lost the ball too easily and could not let the game get going. He made the midfielders suffer for the ball (Fab , Song and Nasiri) ,they all suffered because of him, I hadexpected Edu a little bit earlier.

    The game is still on. If only Ade can lift his game and Diaby declared injured or not eligible to play, then I can stand up and dust my chest and say that we have a chance.]]>

  • Pissed off

    I still can’t stand Diaby. The guy is utterly a rubbish player. Shouldn’t deserve a place in the team. Purposeless and ambitiousness. Very Very poor and will always be a pain.

  • Fabrez

    < ![CDATA[Wow....i'm so frustrated by Wenger's team selection and our lack of creativity was disturbing. At the back, we were sure that passing the ball around then losing it was better than actually clearing it. We put ourselves under unnecessary pressure. I actually think a 4-4-2 would have been better with Eduardo and Ade up front. I was horrified by our inability to settle down for 25 minutes...ahhhh!!!

    Almunia and Gibbs were great. Bendtner just needed to glide the damn ball into the goal. Edu came on TOO LATE! I'd actually go for Edu and RvP to strike like Willsscot bcuz they are far more skilled than our other strikers and efficient with great touches and good passing. We really need to stop this need for height crap and play our football on the ground. I would have put on Vela b4 i put on Bendtner too.

    I have not been so disappointed in a performance in a lon time. Cesc was bad...Diaby was bad...Ade was bad...Theo never got in the game... Creativity was absent. We've got a mountain to climb at The Emirates. We need to flow like never b4 on Tuesday.]]>

  • Fabrez

    *long time

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Hmmm! For as poor as some of the lads did tonight, we're lucky it's only 1-0 and not more. If it was a League game then I'd probably be more annoyed about the actual result, but seeing as its two legs, 1-0 at Old Trafford doesn't bother me so much at this stage. It all depends on next Tuesdays result now.

    Ade didn't have one of his "brilliant" nights. I know playing as lone striker isn't easy, but blimey, he didn't do much right on the night. Theo was pretty crouded out whenever he got the ball, so didn't get to run at them like he can. And Cesc didn't have anyone upfront to pass to. Not much was going forward. Not many chances created at all.

    Having said all that, there were players who did immensely well, Almunia and Gibbs being the best of them I feel. Gibbs even managed to nutmeg Ronaldo at one stage when going forward lol. But it's Almunias saves that have kept us in this tie still. He seems rejuvenated and far more composed then perhaps he was earlier in the season.

    Song played well yet again, which is an encouraging sign from the young lad, I've gotten more and more confident about his ability as times gone by. Definately the most improved player this season for me. Sagna had a pretty decent game too and Nasri isn't doing too badly as a more defending player. Defensively we looked less vulnerable ("more solid" probably isn't the right phrase just yet lol) than we did against Liverpool and Chelsea.

    It's not over til the fat lady sings I guess, and round 1 is out the way. Still a heck of a lot to do to get to the final mind, but it's not beyond us.]]>

  • Debs

    Spot on Pete…