Friday, March 10, 2006

Ok, the Liverpool comparison is just getting weird now.

So, like Liverpool last year, we have drawn Juve in the 1/4s. The rest of the comparison to Liverpool last season and us this season has been done to death, but you have to admit this is starting to get a bit odd.

No one gave Liverpool much of a chance last year, yet they beat Juve at Anfield and held out in Italy to send themselves through.

We can do the same, but lets not delude ourselves here - this is going to be a far tougher game than Real. We're not going to be playing a bunch of flabby old Galacticos: Juve are the, pun intended, Real deal. They have been unstoppable this year in Italy, and have a superb, strong team, capable of defending staunchly and breaking quickly.

And, bien sur, a certain Monsieur Vieira will be appearing - bar injury. Paddy deserves a warm welcome at Highbury and anyone who boos his name when its called out is an idiot. But make no mistake, for those 180, or possibly more, minutes, we have to forget he was ever part of Arsenal Football Club. I know he didn't want to go last summer and I've no doubt he'll feel a pang of nostalgia (or even confusion?!?) when he runs onto the field without the canon on his chest, but if we as a club are serious about this trophy he has to be given no quarter. We can clap him off afterwards: during the game he must become merely another opposition player. And don't forget - he'll be treating us in exactly the same way.

Indeed, many of the key battles of the game, as ever, will be fought in midfield. Frankly, its going to be a huge ask for Cesc and Gilbs to shackle and dominate Paddy and Emerson. They can do it - but we will have to play 5 in midfield again. Having Freddie as a wandering link between midfield and attack could be the key if he continues in this new energetic form. Even if RVP is fit I don't think playing 4-4-2 would be wise. Same team that started the Real game - but with Ash back if possible.

It will be a tremendously tough game. Personally I think Juve are the team to beat this year. They would certainly beat Barca. We can win though. A key factor in the first leg will be away goals: we cannot concede any. We need to really push to win the first leg. If we go to Turin with enough of a lead we can win the game. However I would even fancy us to win if we went out there at 0-0. We need to keep it tight, play fast, not give the ball away cheaply away in midfield, and bide our time. When the chances come - we have to take them. We won't be able to afford the near misses we had in the opening 10 minutes in Madrid, or Jose's at Highbury.

Speed, accuracy, and clinical finishing. Not too much to ask!!!

Having thought about this while writing my post, I've realised this is what the CL is all about. You fear the big names in the draw - but, this year especially, it's a type of nervous excitement, not anxiety or dread. It's excitement because we have shown that we have the quality, ability, and the belief to win this cup.

Now let's go and show Juve.

P.S. Wenger's reply to Pardew, which makes me even prouder to be a gooner:

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has shrugged off criticism from West Ham counterpart Alan Pardew.

When Arsenal knocked Real Madrid out of the Champions League Pardew said: "I saw a headline saying Arsenal are flying the flag for Britain.

"I kind of wondered where that British involvement actually was when I looked at their team."

But Wenger responded: "We represent a football club which is about values and not about passports."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Juve plays like they did against Werder bremen, we should cause them some problems, i think.

You sincerely:

Swiss Gooner