A 1-0 away defeat in Europe is a tricky one to overcome. Arsene Wenger is right when he says a balance must be struck – if the Emirates norm is followed and PSV score first, it will be a long and uphill battle against a defensive team, even though they are missing a couple of key players.
The ideal situation would be the Leverkusen game from a few years ago – two early goals killed them off that day, and it would certainly make the Dutch come out of their shell. Make no mistake about it, we can score three, but the worrying fact is that three might be required as keeping clean sheets hasn’t exactly been our forte of late.
The other question mark is the fitness of Thierry Henry. Wenger’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t here, especially in the eyes of the media. If he plays, and is ineffective, Wenger will be deemed wrong to have played him. If he doesn’t play, and we lack a spark up front, he’ll be wrong for leaving him out. Personally, I hope he only plays if fully fit, and if he’s not 100%, he should probably be left on the bench as an impact player for half an hour if required. Adebayor will be hungry, and Baptista has the potential to spark. The Brazilian does blow hot and cold though, and if he starts and doesn’t look in the game, he should be hauled off before the usual 70-75 minute mark. It may be too late by then.
That said, I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s been a while since we had a thumping home win, and tonight would be the perfect time for it. With the potential of half the quarter-finalists being English (I think United will cruise through), it would show the continent which league is currently the strongest.
In other news, goodnight Barcelona, who were extremely lucky to escape with an away goals defeat after being outplayed in both legs by an impressive Liverpool side. It was bizarre to see the team touted as the most deadly attacking force in the world look so toothless.