Arsenal's performance was the best from any English team in Europe this week. We outplayed Fenerbahce for 90 minutes and were far the better team. Compare that with Chelsea, who were woeful away at Roma and got thumped 3-1. The Scousers were also quite poor against Atletico Madrid and outrageously lucky to get (yet another) late penalty in front of the Kop to scrape a 1-1 draw. ManUre also underperformed against Celtic and had to rely on their usual late flourish to earn a point at 1-1. Celtic can also only dream of having a striker like Guiza playing for them. Fenerbahce are not a great side, but I think far too many Arsenal fans wrongly saw them as a walk-over. Aragones was heading for the sack last night if Fenerbahce lost, so its no wonder they fought hard for their draw.
Looking now at some of the individual performances, the mighty Arseblogger has rightly applauded Aaron Ramsey's performance. Well played Rambo - you look a class act and its a great testament that I would have preferred Cesc to go off and be rested so that you could have played the last 30 mins in the central role. Keep it up.
I would also like to praise Denilson's performance last night. His work rate was excellent and I lost count of the number of times he mopped up around Cesc's loose touches and made a pass. There is an enormous burden on his shoulders this year and last night was an indication that he can perform at this level. If Denilson had been signed for £15m over the Summer, people would have been raving about him this morning.
RVP was unlucky not to score, the back four had little to do but looked solid (Djourou to keep his place against Manure please). Cesc, Bendtner and Nasri were relatively quiet and ineffectual, so I won't dwell on them.
Perhaps the really positive spin is that Cesc has learned a trick or too from AW, whose cunning masterplan with the press was revealed this week to take pressure off the players by talking rubbish to the press. In a similar vein of genius, Cesc's half-steam, give-the-ball-away, head-down-and-look-depressed performance was actually a masterstroke to divert more attention away from the other players, to take even more pressure off them so they can really perform. What a clever quadruple bluff that is. (cracks in the positive spin are showing now. I certainly don't buy this clever double-bluff the media to help the players mumbo jumbo - AW got mugged by the press and Cesc needs to play far better than that against Manure.)
Right, back to the positive thinking. We kept a clean sheet, which is good. I don't think there are any new injuries to report (although Silvestre must be doubtful), which is also good, and we now have the rotated Diaby and Song fresh to unleash against Manure. (I am struggling to be positive now - what the **** is the point of rotating Diaby and Song? They have barely played this year. Cesc blatantly could have done with an early bath).
Its not clear yet whether either of Walcott or Eboue will be back for Saturday, but I expect Sagna to play, possibly allowing Toure to partner Djourou at centre back. Since that combination was the run-away winner in the blog-poll (top right), then I simply don't see any possibility than Manure can score a goal on Saturday, let alone actually win the game.
So its time for good old blind faith again. Strap yourselves in. Toure and Djourou will form the sort of defensive shield at the Emirates that we have not seen in London since the Spitfires downed the Luftwaffe. It will be a glorious celebration as Shrek-Rooney is felled by perfectly timed tackle after tackle, every long ball will be cannoned back by Johan towards Ferdinand's mutant head. At 0-0 and with seconds to play, the mighty Kolo will thunder in a free kick (RVP can't mess it up for him on Saturday) that goes straight through Van der Sar's hands, breaking each finger off at the knuckle, before smashing the net into ribbons. I simply can't wait.
So get up for it Arsefans. ManUre is a mere 48 hours away and as long as I have drawn breath, I have hated losing to those Manc bastards more than anything else on God's good earth. Draw on your own furies and sharpen your swords, because the team will need us on Saturday.