Tomorrow sees us play AC Milan having suffered a 4-0 defeat at the San Siro.
It is really mission impossible.
I’ll start with quote from Arsene and then share my thoughts with you afterwards:
“I can see on your [reporters’] faces a lot of scepticism, so it is important we do not share that. It is important we have a strong belief and that we show we have enough belief to make what looks impossible, possible. We do not have to speculate on any weakness of Milan because they are a good side. But we know that only one thing gives us a chance, and that is to play a top-class performance for 90 minutes. That is what we will try to put in. The task is a very high one, the level of the performance that is demanded is very high as well, but we want to be top-level performers and that is what the target is tomorrow.”
The task, should we choose to accept it is to beat Milan by 5 clear goals, or 6 if they score. It means we need to win 5-0 tomorrow or 6-1 or any difference by 5 goals. Simple as. Personally, I think it’s a stone too far away. In Milan, we didn’t need to concede the last two goals, but we had a broken mentality, we were mentally weak, and went home with nothing, well -4.
Tomorrow, the motivation will be there, I’m sure – it will be one of those games that we have nothing to lose. And “nothing to lose” is a good type of game to play. Arsene will play everyone who can possibly play and make a difference. What would you do if you were Arsene? Would you rest the first team and resign the loss, would you risk the first team against a team that have the likes of Gattuso and other battlers in their ranks? We’ve finally got to fourth place in the league – any major injuries could disrupt our top 3 / 4 challenge – but then again, we could get injured against Newcastle or Milan – they say you should never play the game in fear of injury.
Arsene commented on whether or not he would rest the team:
“It is not an argument for us. We want to have a real go tomorrow, we want to make it possible. I would not be very credible to tell you we want to score five goals and then leave Robin van Persie out. We will not accept going out of the Champions League because we want to stay in. We will give it our best shot tomorrow.”
Which makes me think Arsene will go for broke. Are we capable of scoring 5 goals? Yes. Are Milan capable of conceding 5 goals? Maybe. So based on the injuries, we know we’ve lost Arteta, Benayoun and Diaby, we know we already have Ramsey, Coquelin and Wilshere out… it’s going to be a thread bare midfield, but I think we’ll see the following line up:
Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Jenkinson / Gibbs
Song – Rosicky
Walcott – Oxlade – Gervinho
Gibbs is a doubt, and if he doesn’t make it, then I’d expect to see Jenkinson deployed at left back. I think the boss will choose Oxlade behind Van Persie, rather than throw a Chamakh or Park in – both players severely lacking match practice for sure.
Tomorrow really is mission impossible. If we do it, it will be our greatest victory in the modern era. If we don’t, let’s not over-react. The one thing I pray for is no injuries. No matter what happens, it will be a great atmosphere at the Emirates tomorrow night for sure…