That was a very interesting night in Europe. A good night for some Manchester club haters (i.e. me), a bad night for the English Champions League coefficient. Personally, I am very happy that Man City have been knocked out – it shows there is more to the Champions League than money, money and more money. In reality though, how seriously will both Manchester clubs take the Europa league? It does make the Europa league much more interesting now though. Will it help their their ambition of winning the league and hinder ours? Will it affect the coefficient, which in affect could hinder our chances of qualifying for the Champions League… who knows…
Arsene knows… and he spoke ahead of last nights game about the possibility of the Manchester teams losing:
“That is a catastrophic scenario for England and would basically harm our places in Europe for the future. That’s what you don’t want — that you go from four to three places. Hopefully that will not happen. Of course the teams like Man Utd would then focus on the FA Cup and the [league] Championship but let’s see. I don’t think that will happen.”
But it has happened and it’s a shock to Europe. For Man United, it’s much more embarrassing because of the calibre of the opponents in their group – the likes of Basel beating them last night – not the results you would have expected. The Man United teams of old would have won that tie…
But back to all things Arsenal, and we’re through to the next round of the Champions League – and the only really hard team we can face would probably be Milan, and after that most of the teams look beatable. The gap between the top European teams has closed, and the quality of players have increased across Europe – so despite what I just said, we shouldn’t take any team for granted and must respect every opponent.
Real Madrid & Barcelona are the two teams on form in Europe and both are playing so very watchable and attractive football, despite Mourinho managing Madrid. Arsene thinks both the Spanish teams are the teams to beat at the moment and commented on the game this weekend – the first El Classico of the weekend:
“It’s certainly the game at the moment between the two best teams in the world, so that’s the game we want to see/Nobody wants to lose it. The nerves maybe play a big part because the pressure is always massive. Overall it is an opportunity for Real Madrid to show how much they have reduced the difference between them and Barcelona. We know already today that these two games will decide the title in Spain. The key is to decide whether you play very high or very deep,” he said. “You have to attack them, expose them defensively and Real Madrid have the opportunity to do that. I am sure they will. In a pre-season game they decided to play very high and they gave many problems to Barcelona. But can you do that for 90 minutes against Barcelona? For the few times you do not win the ball very high you are exposed to [Lionel] Messi’s runs. That’s what they have to decide. Or do they start with a really cautious approach and have a go at them in the second half?”
If you are free, the game is this Saturday evening.
But before that game, and much more important is Arsenal vs Everton at home. With Santos out injured, there is a bit of defensive dilemma. Miquel could start, with Vermaelen, Mertersacker and Koscielny playing across the back four too or Vermaelen could move left and Djourou could come back into the team. I would hate to see Djourou come back in because his form has been really bad whereas Miquel has played very well when used.
Let’s see what happens, I’m sure we’ll hear more team news tomorrow.
We’re currently 5th in the table and Sp*rs have a difficult trip to Stoke and Chelsea and Man City play each other too – potentially some points have to be dropped somewhere…