From Sunderland to Milan, the business end of the season is officially underway.
The winning goal in Saturday’s game has been described as fitting end to a fairytale return. You can’t help but agree it was a special way to sign off from the Premier League (part 2) by King Henry. Some of the negative fans out there (and believe me there are plenty!) will cite the games he was unable to help us out in during a tough January period. Never the less, with an amazingly low 3 touches in the opposition box since his PL return, Henry scored two very special late goals for The Arsenal.
The Sunderland game is now firmly behind us and regardless of how well we did or didn’t perform; we picked up 3 very special points and moved up into 4th thanks to losses by Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle. The key challenge now is to stay in that top 4.
Tonight it’s back to the sexy stuff of the Champions League and it doesn’t come much sexier than Milan away. Unfortunately I won’t be making the trip but I was there in 2008 when we won 2-0 to knock the then holders out. It was a special night with a team that had promised so much throughout the whole season but delivered little.
Our record in Italy under Wenger has been fantastic. We’re yet to lose a game in Italy and already have a win under our belt this season at Udinese. That said, we face a tough task tonight against talented players such as Robinho, Zlatan, Pato, and Prince Boatang.
We know that Mertesacker will now be out for an indefinite period due to the ankle ligament injury suffered at the mercy of the shite turf at the Stadium of Light. Wenger has already said Djourou will come straight in; meaning Vermaelen stays at left back. I am slightly surprised as I felt Le Coq may have come in at LB and TV5 revert to CB but experience seems to have got the nod.
I expect the offensive line up to be much the same with potentially Ramsey getting his place back after a much needed rest and a goal. I’d expect AOC to start and terrorise the Milan back line along with Theo but if experience is going to be preferred, don’t be surprised to see Arshavin start.
With the fairy godfather lurking on the bench, Henry and every Gooner alive will love for him to add to his 229 record haul for the club. Vermaelen spoke about the influence he has had since he re-joined:
“He has a big influence on the players. He is a leader: he talks a lot in the dressing room,”
“He has a lot of experience and because we have a lot of young players and he has that experience, he talks to them a lot.”
“We wanted to keep him for two weeks longer but it wasn’t possible,” he said. “Thierry is captain of their team and they start the championship in two weeks.
“It is difficult for a player to come the day before the championship starts when he is captain of the club and has not played at all with the team in pre-season.
“I believe that it was just common sense. I am OK with that because I accepted that agreement at the start.”
You can’t really argue with why Henry is leaving ‘early’ but if a player has so much influence on the dressing in such a brief period, then what will be the impact when he leaves? I can confidently say all Arsenal fans will miss seeing Henry on the pitch/bench/touchline from Saturday but how will this affect the players who have looked up to him over the last few months. Hopefully he will have galvanised them and prepared them for a crucial period ahead. Time will tell.
The game against Milan is the 2nd of three games in a decisive week for the club. After defeating Sunderland I’m hoping we can come away from the San Siro without defeat and a goal to our name. It is games like this that makes the Champions League what it is.
Come on The Arsenal!
Comments Welcome – @Tottz82