Before we get started, please take a moment, close your eyes, head down.
Ok, that was for the 96 people who died at Hillsborough in 1989, certainly the most important moment in recent football history. A day that changed the way we all watch the game.
There’s no good way to segue from that so, let’s just get stuck in here with the football news.
First, did you happen to catch the insanity yesterday? 4-4 draw in the Chelsea v. Liverpool match? 7-5 on aggregate? No one could have predicted 12 goals over two legs, no one. I was able to watch some of it at work, where it just so happens that I can get ESPN 360, and honestly that match terrified me because it’s the exact type of game that Wenger is saying Arsenal will play today.
What’s scary about that is that as I was watching, first Liverpool scores 2 in a row and I start thinking “ok, so that makes them 3-3 on aggregate, but Chelsea has the away goals advantage” and then it hit me: a win puts Arsenal through, irregardless of the score line. 11-10? No problem, as long as Arsenal get the 11. But any draw above 1-1 puts them through and, of course, a loss by Arsenal puts them through as well. So, if Villareal score a goal, and especially an early goal, say a Pires goal in the 10th minute, then this match could turn into a goal fest.
I’m not saying this to freak you out, rather, well, rather because I’m already freaked out! and I need to get this off my chest. Thanks for listening.
So, we just have to win. Right? That’s all there is to it. My prediction is a 1-1 draw in regulation and that Arsenal win in the extra period 3-1. Also that Eduardo will nab a goal in there, somewhere.
As for lineups, I was fully prepared to predict that Song would start in defense, Diaby next to Cesc, and Silvestre would play at left wing-back but the boss squished that idea, specifically.
You don’t need a manager to pick the defence, Gibbs has no experience and Alex Song has not played a lot at centre back. But at least we can have someone close to Gibbs who has experience [in Silvestre].
So, Arsenal are playing a 19 year old at left back and a United reject at center back. OK, offensive lineup it is.
In that respect though we are in good shape; Eduardo is fit, Vela and Bendtner are on the bench, Adebayor is starting no matter what formation we use, Cesc is back, Theo has no knocks, Nasri has recovered from the flu, and Diaby is ready to go. The only question mark is Robin van Persie, who the boss (in the same link above) says is still suffering from a groin pull and will require a fitness test today to see if he can play.
The crucial thing about that is that I can’t predict the lineup without knowing if van Persie is fit. I can give two options, though:
van Persie Adebayor
Nasri Song Cesc Theo
Diaby Nasri Theo
Either way I can’t see Cesc playing in the hole since he isn’t match fit, we’ll need all the cover we can get for the defense, and when he played more forward this weekend it was nearly a disaster. I also think Wenger will favor Diaby on the left since it gives extra cover to Gibbs.
I’m sure you all disagree, please post alternate lineups to your heart’s content. One thing to consider in doing so is that Denilson has played every minute of the Champions League campaign. I considered it and still chose the lineups I chose.
Also, if Song, Nasri, Robin or Diaby pick up a yellow, they will miss the next game.
So, that’s pretty much it. There’s no word on van Persie and nothing on Senna either so what you have above is what we got. Kickoff’s at 11:45am and I managed to move my meeting so, I can be at Doyle’s. See you there, if you’re in town. If not?
UP THE ARSE!