Still feeling that warm glow from the fairy tale ending to the home tie? Me too. The Eduardo goal was the icing on an excellent cake. Think that we will achieve the same scintillating performance tonight? No? Me neither !
It’s not the warning signs emanating from Wenger’s press statements, nor is it the absence of Cesc, Song, Diaby, Arshavin and perhaps Denilson. No, it is the fact that a decent team like Shakhtar cannot possibly play so poorly at home. We overwhelmed Shakhtar at the Emirates with a performance of staggering efficiency and panache; with 4 goals coming from our midfield Donetsk were left bamboozled. Yet Shakhtar are a side dominating their League and will almost certainly accompany Arsenal into the final 16.
The Shakhtar coach has been entertaining the press with his opinion that Shakhtar were the equal of Arsenal at the Emirates. Apparently the main difference was the referee – we were clearly watching different games. Their recent record is excellent with only 2 defeats in 30 games (one to us) and 18 wins out of their last 20.
It was my fervent hope that Mr. Wenger would send out our first choice 11 with the aim of taking the three points, thus negating the need to use his first team in the remaining League ties, however a few of the team need a week off.
Wilshere is back, much to the delight of Mr Capello, and I expect to see Theo start alongside Bendtner. Rosicky will almost certainly play in what will be his 5th CL game against Shakhtar, having played them with both Dortmund and Sparta. Who plays alongside Jack and Mozart is anyone’s guess, but here is mine …
Sagna Squillaci Koscielny Clichy
Eboue Nasri Wilshere Rosicky
It must be admitted that we do not travel well in Europe, particularly to the frozen East. The win in Belgrade was our first in some time. However, with the above team I believe we can get a result in Donetsk. We must continue our defensive solidarity and rely on Theo’s speed to create chances for the Dane. Mr Wenger has been talking up Walcott in the press, saying that he is ahead of TH14 at the same age, one can only hope he develops in the same manner. Games like tonight are made for Walcott, and his early season form suggests he is ready to step up to the plate and become the player we all so fervently wish him to be (if only to shut up Hansen). Nasri will once again have to show his new found brilliance. Can Eboue play as a midfield enforcer, does he have the discipline or will Mr Wenger use young Eastmond?
Donetsk has had a short but troubled history, established in 1869, it has been overrun by both Communist Russia and Nazi Germany. Prior to World War 2 there was a large Jewish congregation which was murdered when a concentration camp opened outside the city. Following the war the city was rebuilt using forced labour from the surrounding Communist held countries during which thousands died of malnutrition. The city remains an almost even split of Ukranians and ethnic Russians (wiki).
Can we win? This will be more difficult than the home leg. Will we win? Depends upon Theo