A tough week
It has, it goes without saying, been a tough week for us Arsenal fans.
Whether a pessimist, optimist or realist ye be (or a pirate), Saturday’s FA Cup loss to Blackburn — a team I had completely forgotten has been relegated to the Championship (!) — was a shocker.
Aside from being knocked out of the last competition that we could realistically win — the Champions League seems so unlikely — the thing that really hurt was that we failed to learn from the Bradford lesson. It makes claims by Monsieur Wenger of improvement and learning, things we cling to as a team that seems trapped in perpetual transition, seem rather silly.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
I do think statements that the manager treated the competition with disrespect by resting Santi, Theo and Jack others were wide of the mark though. This was a team that should have won and with Bayern Munich just around the corner it was a fair decision to rest certain players. Yet the defeat means Wenger and his team move into tonight’s clash with the German juggernaut beaten down, low on confidence and with a media shit-storm invading their personal space.
Despite this, I’m cautiously optimistic about our chances. Perhaps not over two legs but certainly this evening. I’m feeling an overwhelming sense of déjà vu from two years ago, when we produced a magnificent performance to defeat Barcelona in our finest night at the Emirates, before falling short in the return leg. If you’re a betting man then that would be my tip to you.
With Laurent Koscielny reportedly injured and none of our left-backs available our defence is likely to be rather patched-up. Not Aaron-Ramsey-at-right-back patched-up but still a little bit creative. Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Sagna and Jenkinson will all play but our final combination remains a mystery. Will Giroud start? What about Podolski?
Two players who will be vital to our overall performance are Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta. Both are experts at maintaining control under intense pressure and their influence will likely be the difference between us getting a firm grip on the game or being outplayed.
Devastating in spurts
Bayern are a top team but perhaps not in the way that most people perceive. They don’t dominate games in the same manner as a Barcelona or Real Madrid. They attack in devastating spurts, like a soldier firing off machine gun rounds before retreating to safe ground to rest and reload.
Their reaction to last season’s Champions League final defeat to Chelsea — a barely-believable result made possible by incredible German inefficiency in front of goal — was to become über-efficient, an attitude brought in by key figures at the head of the club and particularly manager Jupp Heynckes. This season they have destroyed all before them in the Bundesliga, conceding just seven goals in 22 matches. Oh, and they’ve scored 57.
These are of course unbelievable figures, yet there’s no reason for us to be scared of Bayern. If Saturday’s loss to Blackburn was symptomatic of our biggest flaw as a club these days — failing to respect and turn up against smaller opposition — it simply doesn’t apply against a ‘bigger’ team like Bayern. For better or worse, our team will turn up tonight and put in the sort of application and effort we wish they would every week.
In the end there are too many variables to consider and Arsenal are too chaotic a team to feel comfortable making predictions. It should be a game that fascinates and any sort of result that keeps us in the tie for the return leg in Munich should be considered a good one.сондажи