With Panda’s 18th birthday today and some drinkies planned for this afternoon I unfortunately don’t have time to do up a full preview of the Celtic second-leg game. Instead, here is a quick summary of my thoughts on the match:
- Only a monumental cock-up will see us lose this tie. I’m not taking it for granted but I honestly think the manager could rotate a few more players and we still wouldn’t have a problem getting through.
- With Celtic needing to score at least twice they will be hugely vulnerable to the counter-attack and I think that’s where we’ll get them. And if we score again it’s curtains.
- In terms of player availability Cesc Fabregas will be out (although he may be back for United) while everybody else who was fit is available. The manager has hinted that Aaron Ramsey will come in for the captain and I certainly like that idea.
- Up front I think Robin van Persie will get a rest and Nicklas Bendtner will play as the centre-forward with support from Eduardo and Andrey Arshavin. Down back it should be full strength with Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna set to return to the starting team.
- This game will – like the Portsmouth one – be as much about preparing for Manchester United as it is about getting through to the Champions League. A solid defensive performance will see us through and I think the manager would be smart to give a few more key players a rest if we happen to go a goal further in front.
It sounds like I’m taking the game for granted a bit and maybe I am, but I just don’t foresee any problems at home to Celtic. With a strong defensive unit and Alex Song back in the side we have the strength required to nullify their threat and with opportunities set to come on the break I wouldn’t be surprised to see us win 2-0 or even 3-0.
Anyway, that’s it. I’m off to have some beers and possibly some tequila with the Panda and Co.
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