Not many Champions League groups wait till the final whistle on MatchDay 6 to be decided and this year’s doesn’t appear to be different. With Dortmund on 9 points and Arsenal on 6, a defeat for both Anderlecht and Galatasray today in their respective games will see the big duo safely seal their passage to the Round of 16 on the road to Berlin.
For Arsenal in particular, it would be quite an amazing feat if you put into consideration how much of a disaster in store 5 minutes before the final whistle a fortnight ago at Belgium. It is a story that could prove vital if the team were to go all the way till May, but first, Anderlecht will have to be dispatched out of the way, again.
A win for us would open up an unassailable 8 point gap between we and the Belgian champions, and barring any shocker at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, a 17th unprecedented qualification to the second round of the Champions League.
After a chequered start to our campaign, it seems the Arsenal team has finally began to show it’s true capabilities. The blind have seen it, the deaf have heard, the skeptics have even bought into it, and there is indeed no doubting it; one player has been central to it all – Alexis Sanchez.
As much as it was sugar-coated, his first few games were a struggle towards adaptation to a new biome but now, he has firmly planted his tentacles on the ground to carve his niche. He is not just a fully integrated player into the Arsenal scheme but the main schemer amongst the Arsenal players. With 10 goals in just 16 appearances, we may just be living the first few years of an Arsenal legend in the making.
Besnik Hasi’s men will, of course, want to have a say in all of this and rightly so. Finding themselves in a group with Arsenal, Dortmund and Galatsaray would not have matched the joy of a return to the Champions League but if they cannot turn up against the best, then they can lay no claim to belong to the League of Champions, even if they are currently on course to retain the Belgian Pro League.
Perhaps in a world of ‘fairness and justice’, they should not have been left empty handed when they hosted us last week but in world of 90 minutes football, they got what they duly deserved.
It will be on them to come to the Emirates to show their youngsters learnt some vital lessons on the night and to do that, Hasi will be looking to Andy Najar to do as much as he did last time in attack, while Chancel Mbemba will be asked to do a better job of holding of Danny Welbeck.
But how easy will it be for them? While that game has been pivotal to the confidence curve for the Arsenal team, a win, a draw and a defeat at home to bitter rivals Standard Liege means they may not be soo high on confidence. Yet they must still pose enough danger to give us a work for the day.
Wilshere out, Walcott in, in out, in out, shake it all about. There’s enough good buzz in the Arsenal court to suggest that the evening would be a fine turn out.
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