First the injury news. Gallas is still out but should be back for the Chelski game, Tomas Rosicky will miss the match and will probably be out until the new year with a hamstring problem, as willl captain Thierry Henry with his neck problem. Although whether he’s been a pain in the neck for Wenger is another story…
But Arsene and Titi have put the so called ‘row’ behind them, with Wenger saying:
“I just feel that it’s important to reiterate that there’s no problem between us, in fact, we have always had a strong relationship and that remains the case.
“I wanted to clear this up and end any further speculation as it is a pivotal week in our season.”
So hopefully all the speculation and hearsay can stop and we can all focus in the upcoming matches.
With Henry being sidelined for the next few weeks, Wenger has said that he will use Theo Walcott much more than previous months which is a good thing – considering he has the ability to change a game with his fantastic pace.
With both Arsenal and Porto needing just a draw tonight to progress, both teams have said that they are playing for the win which is expected really. What else can they say?
Tonights game will be really tough and I’ve got a feeling Arsenal will need to score a couple of goals to get at least a draw. Porto are at home and although we comfortably beat them at the Emirates earlier this season this game will be totally different.
They are top of the Portuguese league, are unbeaten in 10 games and haven’t lost at home this season – and have won every one of them excluding the goalless draw against CSKA Moscow!
There’s no doubt that without Henry Arsenal play differently and like the games against Spurs and Manchester United I hope the players on the pitch take more responsibility and really perform. With Thierry playing there’s too much expectancy on him to win the game single-handed so Henry’s absence should give Arsenal that edge tonight.
Sky Sports ‘expert’ Phil Thompson has predicted that Arsenal will lose with Porto nicking it with a 1-0 win and therefore knock us out of the Champions League.
I don’t share that view at all – I certainly think Arsenal can score a couple of goals out there but obviously Porto will be dangerous in attack playing in front of their own fans. But Arsenal have performed at their best this season when their backs have been against the wall and I expect exactly the same tonight.
The only questions on the team tonight are in midfield and in defence.
Lehmann, Eboue, Clichy and Toure will be at the back, with Gilberto, Fabregas, Hleb, Van Persie in a 5 man midfield with Adebayor up top by himself. So it will either be Senderos or Djourou to partner Toure and Wenger has several options to complete the midfield 5, including Baptista, Walcott or Mathieu Flamini.
With Van Persie pushing on to support Adebayor I would expect Flamini to play with Gilberto to protect the defence and make sure we don’t concede a goal. But Baptista has strength to impose himself on the game and Walcott offers an outlet on the break if needed. It’ll be interesting to see who plays in that 5th midfield place tonight.
Well I thought we’d beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and even though I might be tempting fate I see the same happening tonight. Porto will be under pressure to attack tonight and I think Arsenal will take advantage of it.
But I don’t think we’ll keep a clean sheet, and Arsenal are likely to give away another stupid goal which is usually against the run of play.
It will be a tough, tough game but I think Arsenal can come out 2-1 winners and qualify for the next stage. Although I would be more than happy with a boring 1-0!