Saturday, 20 March 2010

West Ham preview and thoughts on Champions League draw

Morning Gooners.

The Champions League draw took place yesterday and as well you know, we face Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

It is some draw. I'm really excited about it. If your going to win the European Cup you've got to play the big teams at some stage in the competition, and facing the Spanish champions now, is no bad thing.

We'll be the underdogs no doubt. But that's not to say we don't have a chance to beat them. After all they can only put 11 players on the same pitch as we can.

The determination our players have shown to get back into the title race since those defeats to Chelsea and Manchester United have proven to me that we have the mental strength and ability to progress and win something this year.

We've got some good players, as have they. Are their players better than ours? Maybe. But no matter what you put in front of these players, more so in Europe than in the Premier League, they will try to overcome it. Who would have thought we would have won at the Bernabeu in the quarter-finals on the way to the 2006 final.

It's big games like these – winning them obviously – which prove to the players that they can win things with Arsenal.

Anyway there is still 12 days till the first leg at the Grove, and plenty of time to go into more detail about the game.

A more important game at this moment in time is the visit to the Grove of West Ham.

We have to take three points from them today. It is a must win game. It's not going to be easy, that's for certain. London derbies never are. They are fighting for their Premier League future as much as we are fighting for the title.

Arsene told the official site:

“The Premier League is very difficult. Nobody can be surprised by what happens to any team, because it is unpredictable and is so difficult for everybody. But it can happen that when confidence drops, you lose unexpected points.
“I have a lot of sympathy for Gianfranco Zola, because I like him very much as a person, but my target is to win the game. For him, it will be exactly the same problem - they will try to win, we will try to win.”

It's good that Cesc Fabregas is fit to play. As I wrote earlier in the week, if there is even a slight doubt about his fitness, Arsene shouldn't risk him. He is too important to have out for the remaining games and missing this one wouldn't be the end of the world. I think the team would be able to muddle through and get a result.

Tomas Rosicky is also in contention as is Alex Song who returns to the squad following suspension.

I expect the team to be: Almunia - Eboue - Campbell - Vermaelen - Clichy - Fabregas - Song - Diaby - Walcott - Bendtner – Arshavin.

I'll give you my thoughts on team news pre-match in an audio blog, major updates on twitter and post match thoughts on another audio blog.

Come on you Gooners!

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