What an exhilarating performance against Porto, from the off we started with the zip and tempo that we needed, Porto couldn't live with us, it was as simple as that. It was a decent Porto side but no more, they have lost key players since last season and are not the force they once were. I was thinking to myself during the game, if we could put out something resembling that eleven every week then we could beat anyone on our day.
The quarter finals will be mouth watering, a tie against a fellow Premier League opponent looks likely according to my gut. If we can keep the right players fit then anything is possible, it really is. The problem with our squad is that if certain players get injured then we don't have adequate cover. Song and Diaby are essential to the midfield, there is not the quality defensive cover to replace them. Strangely Cesc is not the greatest of losses, Nasri and Cesc can play that role to a high standard. Having someone big, strong and physical up front makes the world of a difference to our balance, keeping Bendtner fit is also key. At centre back I am liking the look of the Campbell-Vermaelen partnership, it has a good balance to it, if Gallas can get fit to provide cover then great, if Silvestre has to play then we are in big trouble.
The midfield trio of Song-Diaby-Nasri found a perfect balance between defense and attack, Song was snapping at heels and breaking up attacks, Diaby did a bit of everything, while the outstanding Nasri provided that creative spark which inspired so many great chances. It was our midfield that stood out against Porto. Bendtner gives us a fulcrum that we have so lacked with RVP's prolonged absence, Arshavin is free and unleashed again. Nasri's goal was one of those that leaves your jaw hanging open even if you've seen it a hundred times already, the drop of the shoulder and the balance he showed were on another superhuman level. A special mention must go the reformed figure that is Emmanuel Eboue, brilliant goal, lovely run for the penalty, it just goes to show how people can change their ways if given a chance.
It's time to keep our feet on the ground, bigger tests are just around the corner. It is to Hull that we travel this weekend. Hull will be desperate for the points, they play a very bustling high tempo game that is very much in their opponents' faces, but they do lack that real quality in the final third to turn pressure into goals. The key will be to fight as we did against Stoke, it will be a great game in which to deploy super Sol, it is also not a good game to be missing Alex Song through suspension, Diaby will have to step up and cover for the defensively weak Denilson. In my opinion it is no coincidence that the side that dismantled Porto was a relatively big and physically strong eleven, if we can keep this momentum going you never know what may happen come May.