Tuesday 6 March 2012

Do miracles happen?

Arsenal vs A.C. Milan - Emirates Stadium - 7th Feb 2012, 0115hrs IST

We won't try to get into statistics of how AC Milan have squandered their first leg lead and let themselves down in the second leg. Although, it might serve as a good tonic to relax your nerves and give you that extra hope, it's not a good idea to lay your hopes on those kind of numbers. The fact that almost everyone from our team is talking about wanting to win tonight's game is good enough.

Our squad condition puts us in an uncomfortable position due to the injuries we face. Arteta has been ruled out and needs rest to play on Monday against Newcastle. Rosicky is still doubtful because of a groin strain, and Benayoun is not keeping well, which is a refreshing change from our regular injuries. Add to that, even Gibbs has a groin and calf problem. Worse comes to worst, we might not see, Rosicky or Gibbs, either of them on the pitch. Which means that our formation will have to change and that means including attackers, because I don't see any more midfield cover that we have. We still have Song playing as defensive cover but we will be missing the lynchpin in the midfield.

Wenger has accepted that he might need to shuffle his formation, and experiment with the formation. Given the task on our hands, it might not be a bad idea playing four attackers upfront including, RVP, Walcott, Gervinho and Ox. It will be interesting to see Walcott play behind RVP, but I am not sure if he can spray passes in front of him, he might act more like a second striker. With Gervinho and Ox, we certainly have the width, but the thing is that the defensive cover, in shape of Song, NEEDS to be steady. I won't complain if he repeats the kind of assist he produced against Liverpool, but his main job will remain protecting his defense and linking between them and the attack.

It might not be an ideal scenario but the timing is right. We are having a great run, and who knows what we might achieve with the right attitude. It has been long time since I have seen Wenger so excited and charged up to win the game. Just a month back we were looking to win the fourth place trophy and here we are talking about 5-0 and the third spot and so on. Maybe that's what couple of good games and a "Manager of the month" trophy can do to you.
Arsene says,

It is not an argument for us. We want to have a real go tomorrow, we want to make it possible. I would not be very credible to tell you we want to score five goals and then leave Robin van Persie out.
Wenger said that he might even try to use six strikers if needed. Frankly, I don't see them playing all at one time, but you never no, if the need is absolutely there, why not? But at least a win here would add to our already boosted confidence. The thing is that, even Milan are on a good run especially Ibrahimovic after his hat-trick in the Serie A. If you remember the first leg, he didn't exactly play as the lone striker, which means our defense will have to keep an eye on him. I don't think there is any need for them to play high up, considering we will be having lot of attacking options.

Arsene reminded of the times when this has been done before, he says,
Sometimes when you made a big score, the difficulty is always psychological problems. When you have made a big difference you think you just need to turn up and make sure you defend well. And the other team has nothing to lose so they just go for it.
The point is that, we have not much to lose. Of course, we will miss out on a quarter final berth, but then look at the positives. We could concentrate more on our league games and about the third spot, so that we ensure Champions League for next season. We have seen this team, more precisely RVP, do unbelievable things this season, and no one can blame them for believing that we could go through. A win would be the minimum requirement, but we need to make sure that even if we don't go through, the manner of the win should do our confidence enough good. If anything, the criticism has only brought the team closer and if our main players react positively, it will definitely reflect on others.

My prediction and formation for the team would be..
Sagna - Kos - TV - Gibbs
   Walcott - Rosicky
Ox - RVP - Gervinho

There we go, nothing to lose, everything to gain. Maybe I am too optimistic, but a goal each from our front five would do just fine!

-Ryo wins Bolton's footballer of the month.

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