In this modern day of incessant news, our perpetual access to shiny electronic gadgets and the constant desire to create stories out of nothing that interesting, it is quite nice to minimise one's output and try not to just churn out bland words that say nothing of particular interest. Having said that I am going to drone on for a bit now, so read on and enjoy the irony, or feel free to leave now.
Firstly to the European draw. There is no doubt that AC Milan were one of the best sides in the 2nd pot of sides, on this level it is a relatively hard draw. However Italian sides are not nearly as strong as they once were, Milan are comparable to Udinese, who we beat earlier this year in qualification. I am quietly confident, if we play well then we will go through. The first fixture, the away leg on February the 15th should be after Gervinho's return from the ACN which is good.
Onto that little game on Sunday. In my humble opinion we have absolutely nothing to lose. We go into it on good form and City will be looking to bounce back from their Chelsea defeat. City have a very strong side, and they bloody well should do given how many hundred million they have thrown at it. It looks likely that Clichy's suspension and Kolarov's injury will see Zabaleta moved across to left back, we need to exploit this and Theo will be a key to the game tomorrow.
The two keys to tomorrow's game will be our ability to defend as a unit which has been steadily developing in recent weeks, and the ability of Theo and Gervinho to run in behind the City defence. Chelsea showed in midweek that City can struggle to break down a deep lying unit with men behind the ball, in fact City love to play on the counter themselves. We must be capable of absorbing pressure and then hitting City hard when we have the opportunity to counter. It will be a test of our slightly makeshift back four, in particular Djourou needs a good game and it is likely that he will be targeted as an area of weakness.
Dowd is the referee and there is a typically interesting preview over at Untold Arsenal. Personally I think Dowd is a terrible referee and he showed that perfectly at St James Park last season when he gave two inexplicable penalties against us, while letting Newcastle get away with some nasty thuggery. There is certainly room for corruption in the way referees are appointed in the Premier League, but I don't think Dowd is bent, he's just not very good.
A word for our opponents on Sunday, Manchester City. It will be interesting to see if Samir Nasri starts, judging from recent evidence it is unlikely and on his recent performances he is not a player who puts fear in your bones. Whatever praise is heaped upon Roberto Mancini, it must be remembered he has spent the GDP of a small country on this Manchester City side. I don't expect City fans or the media to paint anything in a fair context, that's why I will always endeavour to do precisely this.