Hands up who thinks we will win tonight? Mmmmmm seems I am in the minority. OK, Schalke dominated the game at The Emirates and were deserving winners, but tonight is a chance to rectify those mistakes and continue on our path to winning the Champions League ….. And before you start to say BR is 3 sheets to the wind, may I remind you of who is the current CL Champions and how they won Big Ears?
We can win and here is why ……
First and foremost, Mr Jack Wilshere. We are unquestionably better with him in the side. I guess that under normal circumstances AW would rest Wilshere for tonight but given his coming enforced rest, Jack must start. I would like to linger on Jack for a moment. How did he escape media and fans rebuke for getting sent off? How could it be that it was Mr Wenger who took all the brickbats for JW’s stupidity? Wilshere is an established International, he has played over 60 games for Arsenal, yet at Old Trafford he was on a yellow, had been warned by the referee as to his future conduct and still committed a foul that in the ref’s view deserved a yellow. Why was he so reckless? To say AW should have taken him off is unreasonable – should every player on a yellow get subbed? No, of course not. A great player needs to be on the pitch to assist his team and JW let us down, tonight he will make amends.
Another plus: Bacary Sagna: At least BS should get some decent crosses into Giroud who I predict will score tonight.
The second Leg: Mr Wenger will address the way Schalke double teamed Santos. Gibbs remains unavailable so a different solution must be found – perhaps playing Coquelin in place of Podolski?). Much mooted is the idea of playing Vermaelen at LB and bringing back Koscielny. My concern with this tactic is the pace of the Schalke’s wingers. TV is a fine player in a poor run of form and works best as a CB. I would prefer to continue with Santos and make TV aware of his covering responsibilities.
Schalke are good, very good but we should remember that for the first 20 minutes of the last game Arsenal were well on top, we looked comfortable and the following hour remains a shock . That Affellay, Farfan and Huntelaar are quality players should come as no shock.
The injury list is just so annoying – Ox, Gibbs, Szczesny, Diaby , Gervinho – all fine players, all would be vying for a start tonight. And that is without important squad members Rosicky, Fabianski, Ramsey etc. Will there ever be a time when we can choose from an injury-free squad ?
My team: …. I was asked whether this my ideal choice or those I anticipate AW will make – it is the latter.
The news that Walcott is doubtful due to sickness came after this post was written, your guess as to his replacement is as good as anyone’s
We have to be more attacking than we have been in the last few weeks. I understand the need to secure the defensive side of our game and in the absence of both Ox and Theo there were few alternatives but the team has been dreadfully short of creativity.
The Schalke fans were superb at The Emirates and they are fervent at home, 60,000+ will be willing their team on. We almost silenced the German fans at Borussia Dortmund, we can do the same tonight.
Today’s explorer: John Rae (1813-1893). Rae’s speciality was ice – lots of it. He tried to find the Northwest Passage – some say he did find it – once walking 1200 miles through forest in two months during a Canadian winter. He learned Inuit and explored Greenland and Iceland .
Dr Rae anticipating a good performance tonight
Schalke have only kept one home clean sheet in 14 games in Europe. As another great Scot Dave Mackay once said “Attack is the best form of defence ” (Charles Buchan Football Monthly Feb 1964).
Written by Big Raddy