Let’s Make History

– Our colleague yesterday made reference to the fact that the last time we overturned a deficit in Europe was in 1978. Today, Arsenal.com told the larger public the same. We were poised for a majestic night in Europe last year before Kieran Gibbs slipped, Almunia gifted the second goal, and we virtually capitulated against Manchester United. The only positive from that night was watching Darren Fletcher look like death after receiving a red card (rightfully, despite what the pundits say) for a foul on Cesc. The Emirates was poised for a blockbuster, and all we got was a damp squib that blew up in our face. The Emirates is often accused for being soulless and artificial; we need a massive night in Europe to christen the place officially. Today can be that day.

– With Cesc and Gallas ruled out already, Wenger revealed that Andrey Arshavin won’t last for a full 90 minutes. Does Wenger bring him off the bench? If that’s the case, the only question will be whether Denilson or Rosicky will start. Additionally, I would personally prefer Eboue starting on the right flank rather than Theo (despite his positive show against Burnley).

– Samir Nasri will be the key point in our attack. He has been all over the pitch the past few weeks, and he’s elevated his game to another level when we needed him to. He still has a tendency to scuff the ball instead of striking through it when he chooses to shoot, but he’s now showing the form he had when he was the leader of Marseille at a young age. Let’s not forget, he’s only 22.

– 22 is also the same age as Nicklas Bendtner. I am not one of those people who made a definitive judgment on him after his performance against Burnley. To me, it was more important that he got into those positions, rather than rip him for all those blatant misses. He didn’t mean to, and it doesn’t mean he’s “lazy” because he missed. It was just one of those days. It wasn’t even the type of thing where he’s showing timidness and fear when trying to beat a defense; it was as simple as having an awful day in front of goal. He’s buried the chances he’s needed to bury in the two weeks previous, and he scored an identikit goal with his head for Denmark as he did for us against Stoke. We want him to do his business against Porto. That will prove that he just had a bad day and that he’s still in the ascendency.

– That brings me to another point. A frequent moan I here from the morons at the pub is about Nicklas Bendtner not being in the center when we’re attacking the opponent’s goal. As the chance he’s missed show you, he does get in those positions. It’s just that he starts wide left, similar to the way Thierry Henry used to when he played for us. Such an ignorant comment just let’s me realize something remarkable. We’ve actually picked up fans after Henry’s departure, even though we haven’t won trophies. That’s a testimony to Wenger’s work. On the other hand, maybe this type of fan was here when Thierry was and he just has no idea what he’s watching. Both statements are probably true.

– Porto have rested six players in their last league fixture. They will not be Portuguese champions. They want to win the Champions League very badly. They will play a balanced game. They are beatable.

– The absence of Cesc will impact Porto’s game plan. In the first leg, Cesc was kicked systematically and routinely. They rotated the tacklers so they would never pick up two yellow cards. The referee took way too long to produce those cards, so they got away with it and Cesc shrank on the pitch. He did not have a good performance in the first leg. Basically, they decided that they needed to nullify Cesc. Now that he’s not playing, what do they choose to do? Do they shift that tactic towards Nasri? I doubt it. Sometimes, an injury can confuse the opposition. That means others have to step up. Abou Diaby has to impose himself on Porto.

– The first goal will be very, very important.

– Let’s make some history tonight at the Emirates.

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