Well the big day is here, Arsenal v Porto for a place in the Champions League quarter finals.
It’s a massive game for Arsenal – win and we’ll be in the draw for the last 8, with a good chance of going further in the competition. Lose, and we’ll only have to the Premiership to go for and people will be saying we’re not the team we think we are.
Team news is that from the weekends squad it’s two in one out, with Campbell available again after injury and Song available after missing the Burnley game due to suspension. Vela may also be free to play after being left out of the weekend game because of jet lag. Wenger confirmed yesterday that Cesc would not be ready to play, which is of course a huge miss. We do have players who can cover though, namely Samir Nasri and Abou Diaby.
I’d expect to see Bendtner lead the line for us tonight, despite the outrageous amount of chances he spurned on Saturday, with Walcott and Rosicky either side. I’ve gone with Rosicky over Arshavin simply because of the fact that Arshavin’s been out for the past few games with injury and although he scored a cracker against Burnley, we need every player to be at 100% tonight.
With this news, here’s my prediction for tonight’s line up:
Sagna – Campbell – Vermaelen – Clichy
Diaby – Song – Nasri
Walcott – Bendtner – Rosicky
That XI should be good enough to get past Porto at home. The back four looks solid, and with Song in front of them, they should be largely untroubled. Nasri is a great replacement for Cesc in midfield and as we saw on Saturday, has the ability to provide that little bit of spark. Up front, both Walcott and Rosicky have pace and trickery which should cause the Porto full backs a few problems, particularly if they’re bombing forward like in the first leg. With players like Eduardo and Arshavin on the bench, we’ve definitely got the talent to win tonight, I think the players just need to believe they can do it.
The key tonight is not to concede an early goal. The atmosphere should be buzzing tonight, and hopefully that will get the lads going. If you look back to the Semi-Final against United last year, the atmosphere before kick off was electric and we really started on the foot but as soon as we conceded, the belief of both the players and the fans just dropped. That can’t happen tonight, if we get an early goal, we need to push on for a second. Everyone knows that Arsenal are more than capable of scoring at home, and I’ve no doubt that we will tonight.
If anyone’s going tonight, get there early and show your support. Get behind the lads and see us into the quarter finals.
Come on Arsenal!