You Cannot Let The Past Dictate Your Future

When we went to Villarreal in the 2nd leg of the Champions League semifinal in 2006, we played to protect our one goal lead. That day, we seemed incredibly timid. We knew what was at stake, and the players seemed petrified in the moment. Arsene Wenger revealed today that he told the team to attack in that game, and they responded, “No chance.”

We were bombarded and assaulted by Villarreal. That they failed to penetrate our goal is due to the heroics of Jens Lehmann.

Wenger has asked this team to listen to him this time around, and he is ordering them to attack Villarreal. There are similarities in the sense that Villarreal will come out to attack. We have the luxury of playing at the Emirates, but we had that same luxury when Wayne Bridge broke my heart. That goal told me everything about football in a nutshell. Being a King means nothing if you show any sign of weakness. The best team in the world had succumbed to a team that had been beaten by us thirteen previous times before.

With a patchwork defense, we needed this tie to be at home in order to give us an added boost. We can expect to see Silvestre step in, and methinks that Wenger will trust Gibbs to play on the left. He was given a torrid time and targeted by Valencia on Saturday, but the lack of pace in Pires will benefit Gibbs. That being said, the only added benefit Gibbs gives us at this moment is his ability to deliver a peach of a ball. The truth is, the injuries have again hit us at a bad time.

But, we cannot look on that and feel it as a weakness. The last time William Gallas went missing, we capitulated. In what Arsene calls the worst game of the season, our defense was shredded by Ireland and Robinho.

On Saturday, we were in line for a similar result. We were 1-0 down, and fortunate to escape a red card. However, we refused to crumble and held our own. This team has learned from their mistakes.

Tomorrow, Villarreal will lack the physical presence of Senna, a player that many fans covet. He claimed that in a few years time, this Arsenal team can dominate. He, of course, feels that his team has a chance in this tie. And of course, he’s absolutely correct.

This is an incredibly dangerous tie. Any goals they score, we will have to make up for. A draw doesn’t guarantee you anything if it’s a score draw.

What we require is poise, confidence, determination.

This is the moment for the players to realize why Arsene Wenger bought them in the first place.

It will require Fabianski’s decisive thinking, Sagna’s no nonsense defending, Toure’s manic aggression, Silvestre’s experienced head, Gibbs’ young confidence, Alex Song’s toughness, Denilson’s cool, Cesc’s genius, Nasri’s skills, Walcott’s pace, van Persie’s precision, and Adebayor’s work ethic.

And what awaits us after a solid 90 (or 120) minutes is a potential mouthwatering tie against United where we’ll play the second leg at the Emirates.

This game, and that potential game, is what football is all about. If you’re not excited, you are not an Arsenal fan.


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