Wow. This is a big day. A really big day. The butterflies have been going all week. There will be very little productive work done today by Gooners worldwide, thats for sure.
This is one of those days where nothing else really matters. So what if some Mexicans have a bad cold? The government should cancel the order for pointless facemasks and start handing out aspirin and beta blockers to football fans for tonights game - there is a significant risk of a heart attack tonight. I hope a good dose of numbing lager should see me through.
My anger after the FA Cup semi-final has now subsided to something of a simmering realisation that Wenger has staked almost everything on the Champions League this season. I would have hedged my bets and put our strongest XI out against Chelsea as well, but Arsene rested Song and kept Arshavin on the bench. No-one saw that team selection coming and I have a sneaky feeling there will be a surpise when the teams are announed at about 7.15 this evening.
Either way, and whatever the team selection is, the game will come down to which team wants it more, which team works harder and keeps its discipline. I don't doubt our attacking ability, but our discipline is a worry. Even if we were to go 2 or even 3 into the lead tonight, you have to think ManUre will fancy their chances for a come-back.
The one thing we have to do is play our own game. Arsenal are rubbish at sitting back and trying to defend. If we play too deep then its curtains for us. Instead, we want to get possession of the ball, play our passing game and hope to create an opportunity.
I fully expect a roller-coaster ride. A quiet start could see a deluge of goals in the second half (a la Liverpool), whereas an early goal might not indicate a goalfest is approaching. Either way, given both teams propensity to score in the final seconds of games, this is going to be a heavyweight slugger.
I suspect Arsenal are sitting in a hotel conference room somewhere in Manchester at this very moment, with Martin Keown and Giles Grimandi giving an informative lecture, with demonstrations and Q+A sesssions, of just why ManUre are the biggest bunch of jammy, cheating, over-spending, over-inflated, over-paid, diving bunch of cock-smokers ever to walk this earth. Its been too long since I truly hated ManUre with a rage approaching beserker levels. Arsenal need to find that rage today. I have been a massive fan of Song, Ade and Denilson all season. Those guys need to deliver tonight.
That said, whatever happens tonight, we cannot win or lose the game in the first leg. Yes, you can give yourself a head start for the second leg, but lets not get too carried away if we win, or too depressed if we lose. Both teams can score, and concede, a lot of goals - a single goal is an advantage, but not that massive. Even a two or three goal lead/deficit can disappear pretty quickly.
Anyway, thats enough guff. Get up for it Arsefans. We cannot make history tonight, but this is a great opportunity for Arsenal to punch a massive hole in Operation ManUre's plan for world domination. The fuckers. To pass time in the next 9 hours, I suggest you give serious thought to which Manure player you would like to punch in the face. You only get one punch.
Rooney or Ronaldo? Or Ferdinand? No, wait, I would love to smack Scholes in the nose. Or Nani. God, Berbatov deserves a punch as well....