I must firstly apologise for my lack of attention to the blog over the past few days, I make no excuses for the improved quality of writing in my absence courtesy of Obsinho, I was simply sunning myself and enjoying not working for a few days, unfortunately I have now returned to the grind and a combination of alcohol/caffeine withdrawal leaves my head sore and my mind bitter.
Anyways onwards and upwards, we take on the 'mighty' and 'magnificent' Manure tomorrow, if one believed the hype then Manu are already in the final, they have virtually a whole team of player of the season nominees and a goalkeeper so 'solid' that they call him the Northern Rock. Luckily the hype is a big steaming pile of horse manure and we are very much in with a shout of making it to our second ever Champions League final. Manu's form has been rather shaky of late, fortune has been on their side with dodgy penalty decisions, while their victories have been far from convincing following on from their humiliation at the hands of Liverpool.
Trying to predict Arsene's hand these days is a bit like foreseeing the scrawling of a nutty professor, certainly our line up against Chelsea was unexpected, as well as being rather ineffective. The money will probably be on the 4-5-1 formation again (sigh), although personally I wouldn't mind seeing Bendtner and Ade paired together up front, something that would potentially give the Mancs a lot to think about defensively. If 4-5-1 is the weapon of choice, then Nasri will have to play on the left with Walcott on the right, Fabregas and Song are certainties, meaning the choice will be between Denilson and Diaby in make up the midfield trio. With Arshavin cup tied the only other option I could guess would be that Walcott be switched to the left, Nasri plays centrally with Eboue slotting onto the right side of midfield. Was the Boro game a dress rehearsal or just a cunning ploy to throw the red nosed one off the scent?
In my opinion Diaby has performed best in a more disciplined role in a 4-4-2 formation, he definitely has more in the way of attacking prowess than Denilson. Having seen the 4-5-1 fail so emphatically against Chelsea I do fear that the same line up may well see us inviting a lot of unnecessary pressure, leaving our weakened defence subjected to too great an attacking load. This also seemed to happen against Liverpool, we could not retain possession, our lone striker was too isolated and the pressure became too much to take, the defensive errors become almost inevitable as the pressure is cranked up. It's great that Almunia is back in goal, he gives us that commanding presence that is needed at the back, there is a big worry over Silvestre, making the return of Johan Djourou look even more likely despite his knee not quite being 100% as yet.
It's an enormous game, I am getting just a little nauseated thinking about it now, the atmosphere will be electric. Hopefully the ref will not be afraid to make big decisions against the home side, history suggests that he won't. We will need to defend well, an away goal or two will also be very useful, for this reason I suspect the first leg may be a rather cagey affair as Manure will not want to concede at home. There is certainly nothing between the two sides as judged on recent encounters. It is time to stand up and be counted, come on you Gunners.