“A game where there’s not a lot at stake”
Those are the words with which Arsene Wenger has chosen to describe our last Champions League group game for this season and as casual and dismissive as that might sound, that is exactly what our trip to Galatasaray is. The first target in every Champions League season is to get out of the group and though there was a real chance that we could be going to Turkey needing just a point to top the group, there was also a chance that Anderlecht would have been visiting the Emirates with a chance to plunge us into the Europa League.
So, let’s all rejoice. We go to “hell” with salvation already secured.
That doesn’t mean, though, that we go all the way there to fulfill a friendly. With this game the last for the Turkish giants in Europe this season, there won’t be a lot for them to fight for, but with both teams in similar downward spirals in their respective local Leagues, there may actually be a reason to secure victory. And just how do we nick that confidence boost we need?
- Awake from the Start
Perhaps it was the hangover of the news from St. James’s but how a team concedes a goal even before the man over the PA has reeled the pre-match stadium rules is of the most comical variety. It will likely be a similar back-four starting again, they must be awake from the blast of the whistle. Bellerin, if he starts, would have to get himself together as nothing but fright could be the bail-out explanation to his slip at Stoke. He should be getting used to the fact that he’ll play a part in this team, at least till Jenkinson returns.
- Cazorla, the Galvaniser
The less pressure going into a game, they say, the higher the probability of having a dud affair. And it’ll be a risk to bet against this game turning out to being the delight of an insomniac. Unless the lads do more than just pass the ball around for the game, that is. It’s could be the most disjointed of performances considering the XI of the day will be a concoction of the fringe and frequent, and it could take a lot of passes to get a forward move. This is hoping Cazorla, the middle man, can bring the regulars – Ramsey/Flamini – and the rioters – Podolski/Campbell – to a mutual agreement.
- Don’t mind the crowd
It may truly be a dead rubber but we’re not expecting a chirpy, convivial, Christmas crowd in Turkey. They may not be of the classless ones in Stoke, but ultras in stands around Turkish stadia have a reputation to protect. Galatasaray have such huge following that even relegation cannot turn them against their team. So we ignore the crowd, and play the football.
- Keep up with Sneidjer
For most of us, he is the one expected to pull the strings from the core of the midfield. Ramsey will still be looking to get himself on the scoresheet again but not at the expense of tracking the Dutchman all around the pitch.
- Campbell to win it?
It’s not a certainty that he will start but SURELY, he’ll get more than a 5 minute run-out in Turkey. Okay, I flopped with the Giroud one at the weekend, but lightening won’t strike twice before Christmas here. It will be his first Arsenal goal in a competitive game, and if Sanogo could against almighty Dortmund, why not?
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