van Persie(30) Walcott(73) Nasri(77)
3 - 1
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I wrote yesterday that it’s the fans who seem to push the panic button when the opposition scores, not the players on the pitch. As it happened, last night with 6 minutes gone in the second half the oft maligned Arsenal back four —incidentally a four of which only one is a guaranteed starter— contrived to set fans running to panic stations.
This Arsenal will always do their best to keep fans on the edge of our seats, Wenger pretty much guaranteed a win over Partizan Belgrade, but the result wasn’t put to bed until the 73rd minute, when Theo Walcott hit a sumptuous half volley into the back of the net.
Now thoughts turn to the round of sixteen, where there is a 50 percent chance of a meeting with one of the Spanish giants. As such much of the talk this morning revolves around the possibility of an Arsenal Barcelona rematch. Something which we are equal parts apprehensive and excited about.
Avoid Barça at all costs
The question now is whether it’s better to meet the Big teams earlier on in the draw or avoid as much as you can? I must say, I’m on the side of getting the big problems out of the way first except if it’s a Barça sized problem. In other words the only team I would be unduly worried about is Barcelona, as we can take on and overcome Real Madrid.
A lot can change between now and the middle of February, by that time we could be on our way to a Wembley final, leading the league by 15 points with a fit and healthy squad, whilst Barça lost Iniesta to injury, Xavi fatigued overworked and playing injured, and Messi out for the rest of the season due to long-term side effect of those growth enhancing hormones. So who knows?
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The main thing is to have players fit for longer period than we’ve been accustomed to. In as much as we worry about some teams, no team would want to face Arsenal with a fully fit first squad. What most people seem to miss is that, we are where we are without the ubiquitous spine of the team in place. I shudder to think what would be said if we were getting results like Chelsea who are pretty much in the same situation we are in terms of injury.
Anyway we are through to the next round which doesn’t start until February 15th , our next game is the most important one so it’s time to focus on the Man United match. It’s about time we put and end to their run of victories over us. The last time we beat them in Old Trafford was 2006, last season we should have won easily but for a freak own goal by Diaby and the obligatory Old Trafford penalty.