Well firstly to the other night, we're through, aaaaaaaah, slow and slightly nervy exhale, it wasn't a great performance and it wasn't convincing but we did it. One has to admire our consistency in reaching the knock out phases of the Champions League, the problem is that in the last three CL games we have played I think we have seen just why we will struggle to win it this season, I hope I am wrong but I fear this is not the case.
Against Shakhtar there was some shoddy defending, the same was the case against Braga combined with some slightly reckless tactics, while against Partizan we again looked more than a tad open at the back. Firstly I don't think this is a problem with the individual defenders we have, it appears to me to be far more about our defensive setup and strategy. Against Partizan for example our defence played for offside far too much when there was no need, this frequently encouraged more danger at the back than was necessary. We have a lot of pace at the back, there is no need to play such a high line for offsides the whole time.
Arsene's thinking and comments on our defence of late have been utterly bizarre. I still can't understand the logic behind Song's advanced position, while it is certainly no coincidence that we continue to leak a lot of goals relative to the opponents number of goalscoring chances. I am not saying we should sit back and get all our men behind the ball, but I do think that we should try to have a bit more discipline in shielding the back four, while the back four should not be playing Russian roulette with the offside trap as they currently are. Mind you this wasn't the only problem against Partizan, several players were way off form, in that category I would definitely place RVP and Arshavin, poor games from the two of them in particular, Chamakh also had an off day. Overall I'm just trying to say that we need to learn how to be a bit more solid as a unit, if we can do this then we could go from being a good team into a great one.
The temperature is building ahead of our trip to the Theatre of Manure on Monday, that outspoken fellow Patrice Evra has had his say on Arsenal, Arsene has politely hinted that he is a disrespectful fool, personally I don't care what Evra says, the man has consistently proven himself to be a rather immature fool, Arsene should just pin up his comments on the dressing room wall on Monday. Gunnerblog has written an excellent piece on the way in which a large number of Manure fans repeatedly chant some rather despicable and unacceptable things about our manager.
There have been some rather poorly written and incoherent attempts to downplay what Manure players and fans have said and done by the RepublikofMancunia blog. I probably shouldn't even bother linking to a site which publishes quite a few pieces that verge on the illiterate. The author of the aforementioned site seemed to think that a relativistic argument saying that paedophile chants aren't as bad as Munich air crash chants cuts the mustard. Frankly it doesn't in many ways, including both the logical and the ethical, claiming that Hitler wasn't that bad because he was nicer than Stalin is hardly a robust argument. The fact is that some things are just obviously wrong or bad, hence trying to mitigate them just makes you look like a prized tit when you do it in an inflammatory and incoherent manner. Some people just need to grow up, it's a game of football and nothing more, there are thing far bigger than football games and we should all appreciate this.
Manu will be a tough proposition, there's no doubt of that, no Arsenal player of fan would be as stupid as Evra and disrespect the quality of the opposition before such a big game. Gibb's unfortunate injury means Clichy returns, it would be good to see Djourou return but I doubt he will. In midfield Wilshere will come in to add a bit more steel, Song will hopefully be instructed to do what he does best, while it will be interesting to see if Denilson retains his place. A tempting option for me would be to stick Nasri in the midfield three, play Theo and Arshavin on the flanks with Chamakh in the middle. We need to be tactically adept, there should be no getting caught on the break at Old Trafford, this would play right into Manu's hands.
Finally I just had to mention this, yet another example of the rank corruption that FIFA's systems openly allow, in simply terms Qatar have effectively purchased their votes from Spain. If anyone feels this can be justified then I would be interested to hear their stream of logic.