Feb 172010

A seven day break was supposed to ensure that our walking wounded had the chance to recover for tonight’s Champions League resumption. Unfortunately, the opposite has occurred, and the squad have flown to Portugal without Almunia, Gallas, Song, Eduardo and Arshavin.

Most have ready made replacements who will be determined to prove a point. Fabianski will be relieved to get another chance in goal – his performance at Stoke in the FA Cup was wobbly at best, a surprise to many who have been impressed with his progress over the last couple of years. Tonight, he gets another opportunity to prove not only that he can challenge Almunia for the number one jersey, but that he is superior to the promising Mannone and Szczesny, especially important given how well the latter is playing on loan at Brentford.

Denilson will return for Song in midfield, while the absences up front mean two of Rosicky, Nasri and Walcott start. I suspect Walcott will come on as an impact substitute, with the other two ensuring that the 4-3-3 formation becomes a tight 4-5-1 when we lose possession.

Gallas’ injury means a return to Champions League football for Sol Campbell, an extraordinary culmination of events since his inauspicious start to the season at Notts County. And don’t forget – last time Campbell played a Champions League match, it was the 2006 final, and he scored. It would be something of a fairytale if he repeated the trick tonight, but at 12/1 with Sportingbet to score at anytime, I can’t resist. His threat from set pieces cannot be discounted, and so that is my bet of the day.

Tonight is likely to be a tight affair – first legs usually are – but an away goal would be priceless. Wenger would probably take a score draw now if you offered it to him, but I think we can nick it. A 1-0 victory is 13/2 with Sportingbet, and would represent a terrific night’s work. I’m backing the team to get it.

Elsewhere, the Cesc to Barcelona ‘stories’ refuse to go away, and won’t as long as he is used as a pawn in Barcelona’s presidential campaign. Undeterred by the player’s consistent denial of the story, the Mail lead with a ‘Arshavin demands Cesc decide on Barcelona‘ headline, despite the Russian simply saying that Cesc will always be in control of where his career takes him, but right now that is to be captain of Arsenal.

It is only two weeks since the transfer window closed, and the next one doesn’t open for four and a half months. But I guess silly season never goes away.

Fortunately, we have a rather important game to distract us. Enjoy it, wherever you are.

  7 Responses to “Porto preview – injuries disrupt the preparation as the Mail talk garbage again”

  1. Cesc will leave inthe same way that Henry did due to the lack of ambition shown by the club in the tranfer market. Unless we compete or at least try to compete in signing some of the worlds “better” players then Fabregas will leave and no one can blame him.

  2. I am really looking forward to it and i hope hope Sol has a good game! 2-1 to the Arsenal!

    To all german speaking gooners check out my first blog post http://gooners-weekly.blogspot.com/

  3. George, you’re forgetting the age difference – both players want to play for Barcelona before the career is over, but Cesc is only 22, is the captain of the club and feels a responsibility not to leave without bringing tangible success. He has plenty of time to do that AND then move to Barca, at which point we won’t begrudge him.

    He knows as well as anyone that if he leaves before the team rises to the top, his time in the Premiership may ultimately be seen as ‘what might have been’.

  4. I hate Barcelona and Real Madrid and their arrogant attitude they have towards pretty much trying to force players to sign for them. There are two people in world football who can stop this, but lets face it Platini and Splatter will do nothing all the while it’s English clubs who are being unsettled. If the boot was on the other foot you would find transfer bans and bans from European competitions being placed on the English club in question.
    The only way to stop the total disrespect these Spain A holes show is to ban them and fine them, but to do that we need to replace the heads of UEFA and FIFA who are both spineless!

  5. JSP, the way they get away with it a lot of the time is through disassociation:

    a) the papers have no official ties to the clubs (even though in reality that is not the case), so the clubs cannot be accused of tapping up through them.

    b) Potential presidents have no association at the time they make these outlandish remarks.

    They also do a lot of tapping up through their own players (Xavi forever going on about Cesc’s Barca DNA, for example).

    On the most part, it is very clever tapping up, because it is not the club officials. But sometimes, even the officials join in. But they always add the ‘but at the moment he’s an Arsenal player’ caveat. It’s infuriating.

  6. YAWN

    Getting very tired of the Cesc rubbish. If he goes, he goes. Life will go on.

    This reminds me of a situation many moons ago. A friends of mine was a virgin, and he had been seeing a girl for a few months (young love – aghh). We were sat in a pub having a chat, and he was telling me he felt he would sleep with his girlfriend very soon. The boy was riddled with nerves about how it would go and if he would be any good. He had the fear of God in him that she would dump him if he was no good.

    Two days later he got drunk at a party, met some other girl, got drunk with her, went to bed with her, dumped his girlfriend (the one who he was worried would dump him), and started dating the girl he met at the party.

    Morale of the story…. Well, if you need me to explain it for you, you should probably be a spuds fan.

  7. Richard I know the morale of the story!!!!!!

    There’s no such thing as Brewer’s Droop!!!! :-)

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