I have read on some of the Arsenal blogsites that there are “fans” who want AFC to lose this game, their reasoning being that Arsene and the Board will be removed should we not achieve CL qualification. Or is it so we can concentrate on the PL (I stopped reading)? Whatever the reasoning I say Nay, Nay and thrice Nay, this is a huge game in our season and we need to get a result.
I cannot speak for you but I was in a state of some considerable nervousness during the first leg. After 4 minutes I was ready to bask in an easy victory against another poor Italian team. How wrong I was. Udinese found their rhythm and showed why so many pundits call them the most attractive team in Serie A; had it not been for some sterling work by the defence and Szczesny in particular, we would be going to Udine is a perilous situation. As it is we hold a one goal advantage and the luxury of defensive shutout.
1-0 to the Arsenal was a refrain heard all over Europe, it was de rigeur for us to win 1-0, and yet despite winning the game last Tuesday evening we woke the following morning to discover that many fans and pundits were disappointed by the performance and the result. Are we spoiled? You bet.
Udinese showed themselves to be a fine team. A strong midfield allied to the wily Di Natale dominated us for large swathes of the game; we will need to be fully concentrated for 95 minutes to get through.
Team selection will be a headache. If Traore is fit should he play or should we continue with Sagna at LB? Should we play Song at CB should Koscielny not recover from his back twinge? What of Frimpong? Should we go to Udine looking to keep a clean sheet and fill the team with defenders hoping for a counter attack goal, or should we attack them from the first? Gerv or Theo or both? Can we continue to justify giving a shirt to the dreadfully out of form Arshavin? What would you do?
Subs: Whoever is fit.
My concern with the above team is the lack of any creativity in midfield, but we just do not have anyone left fit in the squad to cover the loss of Diaby, Wilshire, Nasri and Cesc. My hope is that Rosicky will smack one in from 30 yards to shut up his critics (one can but hope!)
This is a huge game for Arsene and Arsenal. A loss would not be a disaster but a major blow. I do not subscribe to the theory that we will not be able to attract quality players should we lose – they are mercenaries and will play for whoever pays the most, but the season will not be the same without the CL and the thought of the Europa League (alongside such luminaries as Stoke and Fulham) is too awful to contemplate.
Tonight will will require a committed team effort. Victoria Concordia Crescit – Victory Comes from Harmony (as you all will know)