Boys and Girls…
The time has come for second home game of the season and I am very much looking forward to my trip to the Emirates today – free scarf at hand, ready to twirl it around pre, during and post match…!
Okay… let’s dive straight into it… tonight it’s Arsenal vs Celtic at the Emirates for a place in the Champions League proper.
Arsenal v Celtic
UEFA Champions League, Emirates Stadium
Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 19:45
The good news coming out of the Arsenal camp is that Rosicky will be back for Saturday’s game, but he looks certain to miss tonight’s game. The extent of Cesc’s injury is still relatively unknown, but one thing we know for definite is that he won’t be back today. The hamstring injury originally feared looks like more of a muscle problem and Arsene revealed he hopes he is back for the Man United game:
“From last Saturday we lost Cesc Fabregas who did not train today. His scan was quite reassuring as he has no muscular strain but it will take a few days to settle down. There’s a chance he’ll be fit for Old Trafford.”
Which is great news… I’ve made my feelings clear – for the big games, we need the big players and Cescito, mes amigos, is one of our biggest players (not in size!)… and his presence will be very useful for what will be our biggest test of the season.
One player who looks set to start today is Welsh 18 year old International midfielder super-duper extraordinaire… aka, Aaron Ramsey, who came on for Cesc at half time against Portsmouth and played very well, scoring a goal in the process too… Arsene spoke about the midfield yesterday and highlighted Ramsey as a potential starter:
“It is another chance for him. It’s a big season for him but don’t forget he is only 18. I believe his target for this year, and I told him before the season started, is between 15 and 20 games. The way he is developing, he could get that. I am not scared to put Ramsey in [for this game],” the manager added later. “But we still have Song, Diaby and Denilson”
So, it looks like Arsene will rotate the midfield a little, we’ve seen Diaby rested originally before he was fit, then we’ve seen Song rested, Cesc rested and by the law of a rotation policy, that should see Denilson rested today! It must be tempting for Arsene to field more of the younger players today, considering our 2-0 advantage, but as this game represents such an important game for us, I’d expect a semi-strong team… so here goes my predicted team line up:
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy
Song – Diaby
Eboue – Ramsey – Eduardo
With a bench of… Mannone, Gibbs, Silvestre, Denilson, Merida, Arshavin and Van Persie. I’m thinking Van Persie will be rested to the bench and Arshavin may be rested completely, although he may feature on the bench if Arsene deems necessary. I’d also expect to see Merida come in but maybe not start. The full squad lists are:
Arsenal (from): Almunia, Sagna, Vermaelen, Gallas, Clichy, Song, Ramsey, Denilson, Diaby, Bendtner, Eduardo, Mannone, Van Persie, Eboue, Arshavin, Wilshere, Gibbs, Silvestre, Merida.
Celtic (from): Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, Loovens, Daniel Fox, McCourt, Scott Brown, Donati, McDonald, Maloney, McGeady, Samaras, Fortune, Zaluska, Naylor, Flood, O’Dea, Caddis
Personally, I’d love to see Wilshere start and think this type of game is very suitable for him – but I have a feeling Arsene doesn’t want to play both Ramsey and Wilshere in the same starting XI for such a big game. Arsene also reminded us – the fans – that of course, the job is not done, there is a fair amount still to do:
“My priority is still to get into the Champions League first and once we are in it, to try to win. We live in a pragmatic world so let’s first get in it. It’s not job done, it’s job to do. That’s how I approach it. There’s a job to do and to finish. We have done a big part of it but the most important [thing] is to get over the line and that’s what we want to achieve tomorrow.”
So, raise your scarves, tune into the game on TV, find a pub with the game on and get ready for another great European night!