It’s here, finally. First we host, and then we go to Monaco.
The Monday we all have been looking up to. Ever since we let that lead against Anderlecht slip, we knew it would be another day of prayers and hoping for the best, by not drawing the best.
We’d rather not have it turn out being a moan-day, and irrespective of whom we would have drawn today, it remains a 50 – 50 chance of qualifying or not. Barcelona, Bayern, Madrid, Madrid, Porto or Monaco. They can only play us with 11 men at a time, none of whom can play with more than a pair of legs. We finished first in 2007 but had to face AC Milan – not the present day Muntari/Mexes type – and still advanced to the last 8 at their expense.
So why was there ever a fear of this draw in the first place? Okay, that’s easy to claim now because it’s only Monaco but there are enough reasons to be bullish about our chances now, and here are just five.
We were prepared for the Worst
It’s not quite the same as the scene when you are expecting a slap but end up with a kiss, but there are enough similarities. After rolling and coasting through the group stage, and spurning the opportunity to push for the top spot, the aura of agonizing resignation vented through the Arsenal fans world over once again. Season after season, we’ve been drawn against the top sides after finishing second and the outcome has almost always been the same. We had made same mistake and it was bound to happen. We were preparing for the worst, hoping not to draw the best. And Monaco are certainly not the best of that league of six.
Stronger by February
A difficult season, it’s been so far, but seating two points off fourth place in the League and with a good tie to come in the Chmapions League won’t see any banners raised against Wenger for the present. Injuries have played their role in upsetting the balance of this team and we are even yet to play the XI we all believe to be the first choice. That could all change in January, with the return of a few more players back to full form. Knowing our history, there could still be a few going in and out of the treatment room before the 25th of February, but Wenger will SURELY make good use of January to checkmate any such events.
Attack vs Defence
Four goals in six group games, and yet they topped the group. It must show how good Monaco are with either defending leads or seeing out a tight game. And at the moment, those are our weaknesses. But even if the defense is not improved by January – which will be strange – we seem to have developed more fluency in attack, quick-fire goals becoming the new trademark. Scoring into submission won’t always work in the League, but over two legs in Europe, it could be the way to go.
18 years at Arsenal makes it look as if Wenger has never managed anywhere else. Yet, the Frenchman did in fact make his name in his home country, 8 years before arriving England in the summer of 1996, guiding Monaco to the league title in 1988, while seeing to the development of World beaters, George Weah and Thierry Henry to name a couple. Whether there will be ‘come-home’ banners from the home fans or not, it will be a moment to cherish for Le Prof, and there will be no better way to leave his mark on his return than a convincing performance, a victory basically.
A Chance at Berlin
A dream too early, but not to be waved away. There is a possibility that Atletico Madrid and Porto will make it to the Last 8, and if we beat Monaco, a semi-final berth could be so within reach, and after that, you never know. It will all begin with Monaco but the motivation of atoning for Paris in Berlin would be a major motivation for Wenger to go all out and seize this chance.
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