First thing first today, I just want to say thanks to everyone who listened to and provided feedback from yesterday’s Arsenal FC Weekly podcast. The general feeling I got was that – a couple of sound problems aside – it was a pretty decent first episode. People seemed to like the topics that Panda Bear and I discussed and also liked the format of the pod, which was certainly nice to hear.
Personally I thought it was a good start and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. I’ve already mentioned that I want to have regular reader interviews on the pod and it looks like I’m going to kick that off next week with some discussion with a Manchester United-supporting mate of mine who reads the blog. I’d also love to do a segment where I answer any email questions you guys send me and discuss some of the comments that have been made on various posts during the week so there’s certainly a chance of that happening to.
I should remind you that if you missed the podcast from yesterday and want to listen to it now you do so by clicking here. I should also remind you that SoccerPro.com have been kind enough to give me an Arsenal home shirt to give away as a celebration for the first episode of Arsenal FC Weekly and you can find details on how to enter that in the podcast. At this stage not too many people have got the question right so if you can send in the correct answer you’ll be in with a pretty decent chance.
Anyway, that’s all I’ll say on that.
We’re just a day away from the first leg of the United tie now and it would be something of an understatement to say that things are getting exciting. It’s been a few seasons since we’ve played Manchester United in a game that really means something but with a place in the Champions League final on the line this certainly means something.
There’s been no fresh injury updates from Arsene Wenger and I suspect we won’t hear much from him about that until tomorrow. My feeling is that with Mikael Silvestre a 50:50 chance to play and Johan Djourou getting through a half of football without any problems, it will be the Swiss defender and not the ex-United man who gets the start. As for the other key defensive positions you have to think a rested Bacary Sagna will return while Kolo Toure and Kieran Gibbs should keep their places.
There is also the option to move Sagna to the left and bring in Emmanuel Eboue on the right, but Gibbs received such a glowing endorsement by Toure today that I can’t see him missing out. Should he start then Gibbs will be up against Cristiano Ronaldo, and what a test that is likely to be. He’s certainly got the pact to go with the Portuguese man but you have to wonder whether Sir Alex Ferguson will target Gibbs in the hope that he crumbles under the pressure.
Wenger’s preference for the rest of the side remains a mystery. I mentioned yesterday on the podcast that I think the manager will stick with Samir Nasri in a deeper role and bring back Alex Song to add more bite into the midfield and allow Cesc Fabregas a more attacking role. That would mean Abou Diaby would start on the left, a position he’s played many times in the Champions League, while Theo Walcott would start on the right.
It’s an interesting line-up and one that I feel is good enough to get a draw or even beat United at Old Trafford. And what a thought that is: beating United at Old Trafford in the semi-final of the Champions League. Wow. It’s enough to make the hairs stand up at the back of your neck.
That’s all I’ve really got to say for today. I’ll leave you with three great Arsenal v United clips to get you in the mood. The first is Nasri firing in the second goal at home earlier in the season, the second is Emmanuel Adebayor poking home to score the last time we beat United at Old Trafford and third *tears up with happiness* is Sylvain Wiltord’s special goal that made us Premier League champions in 2002.
Enjoy – and I’ll speak to you tomorrow.
Have your say on Arsenal v United by leaving a comment.