Tonight is a big night for all concerned down at the Emirates – we play Partizan Belgrade in a must win game… Technically, we can still qualify if results go our way – but when do results go our way? For me, there is nothing else required than a win. As I said in yesterday’s blog, the two away defeats were points we should have never have lost… but we are where we are and it’s time to put this one to bed.
Ahead of the game, Arsene has revealed the team news and there was some good news regarding our two midfielders Abou Diaby and Cesc Fabregas – whom are both back practising – which is absolutely brilliant news
“He was out to practise today. In fact he is still out there now. He has a small chance to play on Monday. That means it is a bit under 50 per cent at the moment. Diaby is out practising as well with him. He has a very small chance.”
If Cesc is available and 100% fit then that would be an awesome bonus for Monday’s game. A game that would really catapult us into the title race with both feet… but for tonight’s game, neither Diaby nor Cesc are available – news is that Djourou has a small strain and Koscielny has recovered from concussion to return to the starting line up. We may just see RvP back into the starting line up…
Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Nasri – Van Persie – Arshavin
With a bench of Szcznesy, Eboue, Gibbs, Denilson, Rosicky, Bendtner and Vela
It was interesting to see the pre-match press conference with Arshavin by Arsene’s side… he was in full chorus and talked about the position we find ourselves in the Champions League…
“We will get a difficult draw, but Arsenal want to win the Champions League and if you want to win it you have to play the best teams, like Barcelona and Real Madrid. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the last 16, the Quarter-Finals or the Semi-Finals. We’ve lost two games and now only have the chance to finish second, but what can we do? We have to win tomorrow and see what the draw will give us. I think we have no chance of topping the group. I think Shakhtar will be first. It’s disappointing but we always knew Shakhtar and Braga were good teams, especially at home. Unfortunately they showed that against us.”
The next thing he said was something which was brutally honest… he talked about our defensive frailties… and his contribution towards them – you know? The moments where we think, why isn’t Arshavin tracking back? He should come back and close the player down – at least he acknowledges this…
“We struggle in defence so we have to score more than we concede. It’s very frustrating and we’re trying to improve. Normally I can’t go through our defenders in training, but we don’t just blame our defenders. Sometimes I can’t run [back], and I let defenders cross so the forwards score a goal. So it doesn’t always depend on defenders. As a team we need to improve defensively.”
It’s funny how he just says it like that – but it’s true! He is a very talented footballer, but he needs to remain consistent, and needs to help out defensively where possible. One of the key elements to Barcelona’s 5-0 victory over Madrid last week was the outstanding work-rate that all the players, including Iniesta, Villa and Messi put in. That is one of the key differences – the Barcelona trio never stopped running, they never gave up – where as our tracking of players and pressing of the opposition doesn’t happen like that up top.
Down at the Emirates tonight, it will be a massive game – a must win game and we’ll need the players on song and the fans cheering them on… all I can say is… come on you Arsenal!!!