After the weekend just gone it feels a bit funny to be blogging today. As I said yesterday after the draw with Liverpool, the Premiership is now gone for Arsenal – a reality made worse by the fact that Manchester United dropped points for the first time in a number of games last night against Middlesbrough. Had Arsenal found a winning goal on Saturday then Arsene Wenger’s side would be just four points off the top and right back in it, so it’s all a little frustrating at the moment.
But while I have 99.99% given up on Arsenal chances of winning the league it’s fairly unsurprising to hear that the manager has not. Speaking in the post-match interview after the Liverpool game, Wenger was clearly frustrated by his side’s inability to get the three points but also stressed that he will not be giving up until winning becomes a mathematical impossibility.
“It depends on the results of the other teams. In my brain it’s not over because mathematically it’s not over.”
It’s a fair point, but at the same time I think the Champions League now has to be the main focus. Of course, that could be all over as well if Arsenal can’t get past Liverpool on Tuesday night, but should they do just that then I think the manager will have to rethink his approach to the rest of the season. Certain players will need to be at 100% physically and mentally for the semi-finals should the club make it that far, and that will mean rotating the squad from game to game a little bit more than the manager has done previously.
As I said though, a lot depends on whether Arsenal can get the result they require to knock out Liverpool and it’s far from certain that they will. The Merseyside club will start as favourites after grabbing a 1-1 draw at Emirates Stadium and resting key players like Fernando Torres from the weekend Premiership clash.
Two players who will be key figures for Arsenal – Cesc Fabregas and Manuel Almunia – have been talking about this week’s Champions League clash, with the latter hoping that Liverpool show a little less Jekyll and a lot more Hyde and the former expecting Rafa Benitez’s side to defend strongly and hit on the break.
“I think it is going to be very difficult because they defend very well. All they’ll want to do is defend and catch us on the break. We have to stick to our policy of playing good football, attacking and trying to create chances.”
I think the little Spaniard is pretty much spot on; I can’t see Liverpool playing any other way then by defending and counter-attacking and the Arsenal boys are going to have to put in an AC Milan-in-the-San-Siro-esque performance to progress to the semi-finals. With the league virtually gone and a decent rest for some of the tireder players surely on the horizon, Wenger will be wanting his team to give absolutely everything they’ve got to get past Liverpool. Let’s hope they can do it.
That’s about it for today so take it easy and try and keep a smile on your face. After all, there’s still a Champions League to be won.
What do you think?
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