Over the past few years, we’ve got used to playing European matches against sides close to home – Chelsea, Liverpool and United have all been recent opponents in the Champions League, and all three have knocked us out.

This time our opposition do not come from the Premiership, but north of the border, and some will say Celtic should be a breeze after watching us dispatch Rangers so ruthlessly in the Emirates Cup.

But football doesn’t really work like that. A poor Rangers side are nothing like a Celtic team playing in front of their own crowd in a Champions League match. The biggest names in Europe have been defeated there and it would be beyond foolish for us to presume a positive result.

That said, I’m confident. We’ve gone to tough places before, memorably when we silenced the Fenerbahce crowd last year, and I see no reason why we can’t do the same again. Keeping the ball is essential tonight, to quieten the crowd and take some intensity out of Celtic’s play. Do that, and the battle is half won.

But no matter how confident we are, it is fair to say this is the toughest qualifier we’ve ever had, and perhaps, given the national rivalry, the most difficult draw we could have had. Don’t underestimate the media – despite them swinging in our direction after Saturday’s result, expect doomsday reading if we look like we might miss out on the group stages. The Cesc to Barcelona stories haven’t even finished yet, despite all parties ruling it out, that would be one of a million ‘crisis sale” rumours if we crashed out.

Speaking of our captain, he is a doubt for the match, along with Denilson and Sagna. Eboue and Diaby may feature, but I would be surprised to see Cesc miss out, so those should be the only changes from the weekend.

Predicted team:

Almunia

Sagna/Eboue-Gallas-Vermaelen-Clichy

Cesc-Song-Diaby

Bendtner-Van Persie-Arshavin

I’d take a score draw right now if you offered it to me. That isn’t to say a win is out of the question, but unless Celtic take a lead to the Emirates, we’ll be heavy favourites next week.

My prediction? 1-1, with Arshavin marking his first European appearance for us with a goal.

I may be following the game on Twitter, or I may not – it all depends on whether I get to watch the match live or not – having a young family can often mean I’m pausing the action and watching it 15-20 minutes behind, in which case my phone gets switched off.

Wherever you are, enjoy the game tonight, it should be a cracker.

  6 Responses to “Celtic preview – tame the crowd, and the result will follow”

  1. from a celtic fan a fair and balanced view for a change,let’s have a good couple of games of football and may the best team win.

  2. Good honest preview that is. Fair play. Delighted to see that the Gunners fans have a healthy respect for Celtic – some fans down South just simply wont allow themselves to admit we’re not rubbish.

    Enjoy the game – though not too much yea! Lets hope we have something to take to the Emirates for a cracking 2nd leg next week!

    Hail Hail and good luck for the season!

  3. Your predicted line up is stop on.

    I think we’ll be winners tonight.

  4. My predictioms: Celtic 1 Arsenal 3

  5. Cheers folks, and fair play to Celtic, we were lucky with the goals but delighted with the result.

    Most impressive thing from an Arsenal point of view was the lack of chances Celtic created. Not many at either end to be honest, but I guess we got the breaks.

  6. Yea fair result in the overall anaysis. Second half the gulf was there for all to see…we were toothlsss.
    The timing and nature of the first goal was something we were never likely to recover from. Up until that, I was happy with the way things were going, neither side had really assumed a grip on the game. Which would have suited us ok at HT. We had to score first to stand a chance.

    I thought it was physical without ever being dirty. The Arsenal midfield settled to the task of getting stuck in pretty well and battled for everything. Good sign that for your season.

    For the current stage of Mowbray’s sid…a run in the Europe Cup might be no bad thing for us.

    See you in the Supercup next August then eh!

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