Let’s Prove the Critics Wrong Like We Did in 1980

On 23rd April, 1980, Arsenal shocked the football world by beating Juventus 1-0 in their semi-final, second leg, Cup Winners Cup clash in Turin. It was the first time a British team had beaten Juventus at their home stadium.

The first leg at Highbury had ended 1-1 with Arsenal scoring an equalizer in the 86th minute after Juventus had scored through a twice taken penalty. Arsenal suffered injuries during that game with Roberto Bettega taking out David O’Leary and Marco Tardelli being sent-off for a similar challenge on Liam Brady.

Three days later, Arsenal played out a 0-0 draw against Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final. A week later, in the second leg in Turin, Arsenal left it even later to score, with substitute Paul Vaessen heading in the winner in the 88th minute. What makes this result even more remarkable is that the Italian club had not lost at home in Europe for 10 years.

Five days after their historic win in Italy, Arsenal drew 1-1 with Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final replay, eventually winning the third replay 1-0. They would meet Valencia in the Cup Winners Cup final that year, who had knocked out Barcelona 5-3 in the quarter-finals.

Thirty years have passed since Paul Vaessen’s winner. Vaessen tragically died of a heroin overdose at 39 in 2001.

Arsenal are expected to lose against Barcelona in tomorrow’s Champions League quarter-final in Spain and the latest injury news isn’t good. Song is out and Campbell is doubtful. This means that Denilson starts alongside Diaby and Nasri.

With Fabregas injured the onus is on Nasri to produce. Fabregas absence isn’t as bad as that of Song. Arsenal have played very well without Fabregas in the team. But in Nasri, the Gunners have a ready made replacement. Nasri plays better when he is in an attacking central midfield role. He has improved a lot over the last few months and is justifying his 14 million pound transfer.

Ex-Arsenal and Barcelona player Emmanuel Petit thinks the absence of Fabregas will help Arsenal.

“When he plays he is always asking for the ball and every ball comes through him. That’s quite easy for an intelligent team to defend against, as we saw against Manchester United, Chelsea and Barcelona.”

Tomorrow’s game is also a big game for Denilson who will fill in for Song. The young Brazilian seems to play better against teams with a South American style of play and therefore could surprise us.

Back in October, Rubin Kazan beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Nou Camp. Playing that day was the Mexican centre-back Rafael Marquez. He starts tomorrow.

Keep It Arsenal

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