Afternoon, intrepid readers.
Matches don’t come much bigger than today. Maelstroms of bitterness and discontent can be put aside, petty bickering and waring factions can temporarily relent; Bayern Munich are in town. Having blundered so spectacularly on Saturday, tonight is the perfect stage to show the world the real Arsenal.
Adversity can often become our greatest ally. The players and manager will know full well how daunting and formidable our opponents are. The chips are down at present, positivity is something of a forgotten mindset. Unification often comes from the darkest of hours, and I’ve got faith in us seeing a real response from the players, and a vociferous, inspiring one from the home support. Losing with such shame to Blackburn might just be the tonic for a win tonight.
On the team news front, Vermaelen and Jenkinson will return to the squad, but Laurent Koscielny again faces a late fitness test. With Gibbs injured, Monreal ineligible and Santos sunning his considerable frame in Brazil, the left-back position is the main area of concern. I expect Arsene to deploy Vermaelen there, and use Sagna in the centre with Mertesacker and Jenkinson at right back if Koscielny doesn’t come through his test.
My guess at how we will start – assuming Koscielny plays – would be:
Of course, that may not necessarily be the case. The Boss may chose to play either Ramsey or Diaby in one of the wide positions enabling them to drop in and support the midfield. Bayern have some monsters with the likes of Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez, and we will need to compete physically as well as technically.
There’s a great deal of pressure on this game. After Arsene’s uncharacteristic outburst toward the media yesterday, it would appear that even the usually calm and gregarious Mr Wenger is feeling the walls close in on him. Few of us fans realistically expect triumph in this competition, but to exit with a whimper and not a fight will only and further fuel to the growing fire of discontent surrounding our manager.
Fixtures like this one can make or break a season. A stirring performance and a win could become the catalyst for better things to come. A resounding defeat might send an already disappointing season spiralling into greater realms of shit. Often we approach matches wondering which version of our beloved Arsenal will turn up – the team capable of great attacking fluency, or the version unable to muster a decent shot on goal against infinitely beatable opponents.
We can ill afford anything but the real Arsenal turning up tonight.
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That’s all for today, folks. I hope you’re all prepared for the game. Wether you’re attending or watching amidst the jostling jocundity of a local bar, let’s all stick together on this one. There’s a time for protests and a time for support. Tonight is certainly the latter.
Thanks for reading today, you beautiful bastards. I shall return tomorrow hopefully able to effusively ramble about a scintillating performance.