The Squad

The last time Sol Campbell played for us in the Champions League, we were mere minutes away from winning the trophy with the big ears. It would have completed Wenger’s quest for European glory. Alas, due to two goals which could have been prevented by a better goalkeeper, we were defeated by Barcelona and it led to a night of heavy drinking on my part.

Despite the fact that Sol Campbell walked out of Highbury against West Ham, he eventually returned to the side and started for us in the Champions League Final. Instead of players like Flamini, Senderos, and Lehmann, all players who were crucial to the CL run that year, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, and Manuel Almunia played large stretches in that match. Now Almunia was down to Jens being sent off, but Ashley Cole and Campbell were picked over two players who helped to set a Champions League record. That is some mark of the faith Wenger has in Campbell, regardless of his terrible past deeds.

Today, we’ll face Porto, a dangerous side, without our “spine.” Arshavin, Alex Song, Gallas, and Almunia are all injured. I’m almost glad that the latter is out, but the former three players are all crucial to our side and it will most certainly be a loss.

When critics judge our side as one that lacks depth, today is the match where we can prove them wrong. Fabianski has been unconvincing, but yesterday Wenger once again stated that he believes in him. It’s time for him to show us what Wenger sees.

Porto’s most dangerous player is Radamel Garcia, not Hulk. Garcia has been a prudent buy, and he’ll be sold off to a bigger European club sooner than later. Porto, as fine a side as they are, tend to be a bit of a feeder club, although that charge could (inaccurately) be leveled at us as well. Bruno Alves provides a dangerous option on set pieces, and he tends to score important goals.

Perhaps though, our injuries will cause FC Porto to be slightly more ambitious than usual. Last year, after mauling them at the Emirates in the group stage, they played for a draw at home and they got it. If they want to get on the front foot, they would be wise in trying to attack us, but a nil-nil draw would do fine for them as well.

Diaby and Cesc must provide the thrust for the team, and Denilson MUST give a performance if called upon today.

Sol Campbell returns to the Champions League. Let’s hope this time, with a different goalkeeper, the result won’t be the same.

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