Eleven Arsenal players will step onto the Stade Louis II on Tuesday night knowing that something as great as they ever have achieved lies at stake. There will be World Cup winners, a European Championship winner and some others who have got a medal or two but surely none had ever been involved in a task of this magnitude.
Arsenal must score 3 times to stand any chance of qualifying for the last 8 of the Champions League this year, against a side that boasts the best defence in the competition. Riddle me that.
The memories of the horrendous display at the Emirates have been pushed to the back of our minds with four straight wins. There is now talk of the Gunners mounting a deadline-day-esque bid for the Premier League title while the FA Cup looks set to remain in North London but there is simply no way those two can surmount the enormity of this particular challenge.
Between Welbeck and Walcott
While a few players have entered the final stages of their recovery, it is good news that no players were lost from the weekend game against West Ham. Perhaps the absence that will hurt most will be that of the Ox whose cameo in the reverse fixture handed the Gunners a lifeline, before somewhat denting it. For pace’s sake, Welbeck and Theo would now be in the equation for a start but if Welbeck cannot stick to the wings when asked to play there and Theo hasn’t got his confidence back, is there any need to have either one start?
The making of Giroud
It, then, could be of more benefit to put more trust in Giroud. He is gaining universal acclaim as the Patron of bouncing back and there could be no better stage to repair his costly (non-) contribution to the defeat. He will have a new headache to deal with in the person of Ricardo Carvalho. The former Chelsea man was unfit to play at the Emirates and will be the one to handle Giroud this time, but the Frenchman could prove who is boss when he returns to play in the presence of fans who will be expecting big things from him when France host the Euros next year.
A Night to Remember
Football has become the world’s most thrilling sport over the years, more due to its miracles than for its goals but only an abounding of the latter will produce the former. The task is pretty simple: go and have a fill of your boots, but that would only be simple if it had not been against a team who usually don’t ship that much. Yet, if it is true that something new and exciting is brewing in this current Arsenal generation, it is nights like this that make the stamp irrevocable.
In the end, the Gunners might still not be in the final by June but surviving this stage will send the clear message that Arsenal could finally be up to something in the future.
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