Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gunning vs Roming: the preview

I couldn't think of a better way to preview the Arsenal-Roma game, so i got this from OleOle. Don't forget that Man United play Inter while Lyon also play Barca. And then Porto meet Atletico too. But here's the preview I'm speaking of.

Roma tonight. I'm looking forward to this, I have to say.

Not that I'm taking anything for granted. As good as the performance, result and goals against Burnley were this is a much more difficult task altogether. Still, there's a sense that the team is beginning to find its feet again, that they're boosted by the return of injured players and to me, at least, I think there's a focus and determination in the Champions League that isn't quite present in the other competitions this season.

Arsene Wenger is bullish going into the tie. He wants his players to show everyone that they've been written off too early, that they do have the quality he always said they did. In rather bombastic terms, he says:
You judge a season at the end of the season and it is down to us in the coming months to show that we have the necessary quality and that people were too quick to write us off.

What we are playing for at the moment is the destiny of this team. How much do we want to win? How much do we want to be the best? That’s what is at stake at the moment.
So, not much then? He's certainly putting it up to his squad. There must have been times this season when he was biting his tongue. We know he's never critical of his players in public but it must have been hard at times this season to defend what he saw on the pitch - not least because it made a mockery of what we all saw.

Having nursed them, protected them, taken the flak for them over and over again, he wants them to repay that. We're 90 minutes away from a Champions League 1/4 final and he expects a performance. He wants more of what we saw against Roma in the first leg and less of what we saw against Fulham or Sunderland.

There's not much in terms of team news, only that Kolo Toure is fit, and I expect the same XI in the same formation as in the first leg.

Arsene says we're going to attack Roma. I think that's a good idea. A goal would mean the Italians have to score three and while that's not impossible it's certainly difficult. An early goal for us would really settle the nerves and put Roma on the back foot.

We have the added bonus of real quality on the bench should we need it as well. Theo Walcott and Eduardo provide fantastic options, not only if we're chasing the game, but also to hammer the final nails into the coffin should it come to that. I do wonder if he might think about using Theo from the start in place of Eboue but I suspect he'll be on the bench.

There's no doubt Roma will be better than in the first leg. They were as poor as we were good and we shouldn't expect a repeat of that. It means that we're going to have to work as hard as we've worked this season but our record in what you might call 'big games' has been good.

There's no doubt in my mind that we have the ability to go through tonight, that we have the ability to win the game as well. It's a measure of how well we played in Europe this season that it would be a massive disappointment if we didn't get a result.

Here's to it. I've got some lucky beers to go with the match later on. Till tomorrow.

Yeah, tomorrow