Evening all, and it’s been a relatively quiet day on the Arsenal transfer front, although slightly busier for our Premiership rivals, as Liverpool sold Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid and replaced him with Alberto Aquiliani. Considering we were very close to snapping up Alonso for £12m last summer, Real Madrid’s £30m deal shows how extortionate this summer has become.
Today I will take a look at at the Champions League draw which is happening this Friday in Nyon and preview who we may be drawn against and what our chances are. Our chances of course of progressing to the third round should be relatively high, and although I am confident we can all the way, often the first hurdle can become the biggest stumble. Fortunately and hopefully Arsene’s career so far of always qualifying will remain in tact and we’ll be in the hat in a couple of weeks.
The top ten teams in the “best placed” finished side of the draw are here (of course, we top this chart)…
3. Shakhtar Donetsk
4. Sporting Lisbon
The top five and the bottom five of the ten can’t face each other, so this means we can’t face Lyon, Shaktar Donetsk, Sporting Lisbon or Panathinaikos.
This means that we could get one of the following teams:
- Atletico Madrid
Of course, pretty much all of the teams listed will he hard, so it’s going to be a tricky affair. Except Timisoura, who only appear here because somehow they managed to beat Shakhtar Donetsk. I hope we get Timisoura. And Celtic today came back from 1-0 down in the first leg to beat Dynamo Moscow 2-0 at their ground. Impressive. I would prefer to avoid Hleb’s Stuttgart, Fiorentina and Athletico Madrid, but if we are going to win it, I suppose we have to take everyone on eventually!
I do think we have a stronger squad now than we did last season, mainly because I’m looking ahead to a season with Eduardo, Arshavin and Rosicky primed and raring to go – something which I was not doing this time last summer. Talking about Rosicky and Arshavin, the former has been in the press talking about the latter and the Czech international had this to say:
“Everyone can see that he [Arshavin] is a very intelligent and dangerous player for every opponent. I think he made an immediate impact last season when he came. It was only six months. I hope we can achieve something together and we will fight for trophies this year. Of course this is a very important season for him but the same thing can be said for all of us.”
And an attacking quartet of Rosicky, Arshavin, Van Persie and Eduardo is certainly something very exciting, coupled with Cesc sitting behind them, it could be magic! However, as I write this article, I’m hearing that Rosicky may be sidelined until the end of September with a hamstring injury, but all are unconfirmed, well, confirmed by Ian Wright, if you believe the talkative ex-Arsenal striker!
In other news, Cesc Fabregas has been in the news and the captain Fab-tastic (sorry about that) is confident that we’re strong enough to challenge this season…
“We will never start the season thinking that we are going to finish fourth.Every big club goes through difficult moments and we are in one at Arsenal – but we have to be stronger than ever and stick together and I am sure we will be fine. For the last three seasons, we have been unlucky with injuries so hopefully this year we can all stay fit. The quality is here and I believe we can do it. Individually, my target (for this season) is to improve everything, because at my age, I believe it is the right thing to do. Of course if I can score more goals than ever, the better it will be for the team.”
And Cesc is right of course, we have been unlucky with injuries and all it would take this season was for our team to stay fit and we’d have a serious tilt at the title… Cesc continued and touched on the signings and of course the emergence (again) of Jack Wilshere!
“For every club you can have big names coming in, but when you have a talent that comes through the youth system, I think it is one of the proudest things for a club. You have seen Jack Wilshere in those two games and Fran Merida came here from Barcelona when he was 15 – now he is 19 so he has been working with Arsenal for four years and he has improved a lot. When I was injured I was training a lot with the reserves, and there is some really great potential in there.”
Fighting talk from the captain and if you take what Cesc is saying and add in a super duper DM signing, surely the title is ours?