The Magic That Is The Champions League..
Arsene Wenger prefers to play the first leg of European competitions away from home, as he feels that the decisive 2nd leg can be the different from progressing and leaving the tournament – but this years competition has shown that the 1st leg is the more important of the two.
Arsenal shocked most of Europe with their impressive win at the Bernabeu against Real, and when the Galacticos arrived for the return leg at Highbury they knew that Arsenal would continue to play their high tempo game, run them ragged and not give them a chance. Arsenal progressed with a draw, but should have scored a few goals through Reyes.
Then the mighty Juventus who are cruising Serie A couldn’t handly Arsenal’s ‘Premiership Pace’, and the second leg was another draw to the Gunners.
It shows that if you do well enough in the first leg then the second is much easier.
And that’s stating the obvious!
Arsenal can score big tomorrow night and have a big hand in the final, but Villareal will be a different test.
Juventus and Real Madrid are used to controlling games, scoring the first goal and dominating until the final whistle. Villareal would be happy to sit back, soak up the pressure and steal a couple of goals on the break.
The referee will have to be strong tomorrow night, and expect the Spaniards to win freekicks around the edge of the area and be dangerous from crosses. It wouldn’t surprise me if they tried to get a penalty for that vital away goal.
Arsenal cannot afford Villareal to score at Highbury. Juan Roman Riquelme is a great player and will expose more frailties than Nigel Quashie did at the weekend so Arsenal will have to be outstanding defensively.
Arsenal’s only major injury worry is that to Cesc Fabregas, who is nursing a bruised foot – several reports have said he’s out for a couple of weeks while others say he should be okay for tomorrow nights game.
Cesc has been awesome for us and although tomorrow nights game is massive I would rather him sit out and rest if needed than risk it against Villareal. The only concern is while Diaby has been good for us this year, he hasn’t really had many top-class games under his belt.
Villareal have their two main centre-backs – Gonzalo RodrÃguez and Juan Manuel PeÃ±a– out of tomorrows game, and first choice keeper and previous Arsenal target Sebastian Viera is also out suspended.
Arsenal have had defensive injury nightmares of their own and come through it so I wouldn’t put too much on Villareal’s absentees. They are a dynamic team who are stuggling to qualify for the Champions League in their domestic league so expect a team that will fight for absolutely everything tomorrow night.
This is Villareal’s cup final.
So let’s make the final European night at Highbury the most special yet!