Arsenal v PSV & Arsenal v Portsmouth 16 December, 2006Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News, Champions League, Premiership.
It was the draw for the first knockout round of the Champions League in Nyon yesterday morning and Arsenal were drawn with PSV Eindhoven. It was probably the best tie we could get and when PSV’s name came out I was hoping Arsenal’s would follow. In September 2002 we beat them 4-0 with Gilberto scoring in 20 seconds and in 2004 we drew 1-1 at Highbury. It’s by no means an easy tie and I’m sure Arsene Wenger will not underestimate the Dutch champions, we should progress to the next round but lets take each match at a time. Coming 1st in our group means we get the 2nd leg at home which is always good, we travel to Holland on Tuesday 20th February for the first leg and they come here on Wednesday 7th March. Here’s the draw in full:
Porto v Chelsea
Celtic v AC Milan
PSV Eindhoven v Arsenal
Lille v Manchester United
Roma v Lyon
Barcelona v Liverpool
Real Madrid v Bayern Munich
Inter Milan v Valencia
Some very interesting ties there: Mourinho etc make the trip back to Porto and hopefully the runners-up from our group do the business over Chelsea. Celtic play AC Milan in a tough tie but I think Celtic can progress if they play well, Milan are not doing well domestically and the Glasgow outfit will be looking to cause an upset. The current holders Barcelona were drawn with the previous winners Liverpool, Barca will be the favourites but I think Liverpool has what it takes to beat them. It’ll be an interesting game and definitely one to watch.
The game isn’t for two months so I’ll build up to the game a bit nearer the time.
Today Portsmouth makes the trip north to London. They’re doing very well this season but they shouldn’t cause us any problems, they most definitely can but if we improve on the performance up in Wigan we should pick up another three points here. Pompey are having a bit of a striker crisis at the moment, in the week they had no fit strikers but ex-Gooner Kanu faces a late fitness test ahead of the game. However that’s still only one striker, there was talk of playing another ex-Gooner Sol Campbell up front as he’s the only man who has experience up front. It would be funny to see old Sol as a forward, but torture if he scored. If I remember correctly Sol scored a great goal against Portsmouth for Arsenal a couple of seasons ago in the last minutes when he was in a forward position, today he’ll be looking to do the opposite. There is alot of talk about the return of Tony Adams to North London. He was missing for the last game at Highbury, DB10’s testimonial and apparently Patrick Vieira’s testimonial. I’m sure he’ll get a fantastic reception from the Gooners and so he should, so what if he snubbed us for the last and first games at our respective stadiums, he is still a fucking legend in my mind.
Injury news Arsenal-wise isn’t great either. Tomas Rosicky and William Gallas were expected to play in this game but both are not included in the squad. Rosicky is just fit but Wenger doesn’t want to rush him back and has left him out of this one, he’ll be in the team for the next game though. Gallas is also short for today’s match, he’s at least another 10 days away according to Mr. Wenger but we’ve got talented back up so I’m not too worried. However there’s good news on Ralph Lauren, he played his first proper football yesterday in a friendly behind closed doors against Hoang Anh Gia Lai from Vietnam. He captained the Arsenal reserves against the V League side and managed 55 minutes with no problems, this is great news on Lauren’s recovery. He’s expected back next month and it couldn’t come any sooner: Eboue is getting quite sloppy at the back and I think it’s mainly down to him not having any real competition for his place in the team.
I hope we go 4-4-2 against Portsmouth, we stupidly went with one striker at Wigan and it didn’t pay off. It really was poor tactics from Arsene and even I know that a 4-4-2 is best to play a side like Wigan. Wenger switched to 4-4-2 for the end of the game and hopefully he’ll continue that for this game. I think the team should be Lehmann, Eboue, Djourou, Toure, Clichy, Ljungberg, Fabregas, Gilberto, Hleb, Van Persie and Adebayor. Walcott will probably still be tired from starting against Wigan so he shouldn’t start but maybe he’ll come on later in the game. Ljungberg will start purely because we haven’t got another Wigan and Baptista won’t be in the starting 11 simply because Fabregas and Gilberto are better. If Wenger does go 4-5-1 he might put RVP out wide and switch Hleb for Flamini but hopefully these are the names I’ll be shouting from block 123 Upper today.
Best of luck to he boys today, I’d love to see us win convincingly, I don’t mean lots of goals, just a performance where we deserve the win (unlike Wigan). I’ll try and update the site asap but I think I’m going out after the game so I’ll probably be Sunday before I publish my thoughts on the game. Until then, good morning.