‘Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.’
‘Ieder nadeel heb zijn voordeel’ (Every disadvantage has its advantage)
By Johan Cruijff.
Whilst Bayern have to come to terms with their current unbearable lightness of being, Arsenal have actually been facing some severe adversity.
The big loss against Pool was a huge shock to the system and put our feet firmly back on the ground. Subsequently, Arsenal played more compact and disciplined against the Mancs, but our ‘safety first’ approach led to not enough chances to get all three points from the game. It was progress nevertheless. And then came the Pool FA cup game and further progress was made: a solid and disciplined performance saw us edge through to the last eight and give the Dippers one on the nose. Sweet indeed.
Today, we are hoping for one more step forward from those last three games. Only if we are at our very best tonight (and the referee does not spoil it) can we get a result against Bayern. We need to be disciplined throughout the team and concentrate for 90+ minutes. You only have to look at the Martin Demichelis incident yesterday to realise that the previous sentence, despite stating the bleeding obvious, is never truer than in a CL game.
Guardiola does not want us to have the ball tonight, as he believes we can hurt them if we do. The idea that this true gentleman – the antithesis of Maureen in almost everything – is combining the best of Bayern and Barca into something even better than its parts – Bayerlona – is very scary. I have not watched Bayern a lot this season, but we can expect a physically strong team with an even better ability to pass the ball round and not give it to us.
Key to our survival is therefore to hold onto the ball when we have it and impose our own game on them. This is something we have not been good at recently, especially against the top teams who have pressed us high up the pitch. We also need to protect our ‘D’ with a solid wall and our CB’s and ‘DMs’ have had some very good games to practice on this recently (this was one of our weaknesses in our last home encounter against BM).
There is no Ribery and no Shaqiri, but Schweinsteiger is back after an injury and they are pretty spoiled for choice in midfield. Muller, Robben, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Martinez etc are all fantastic footballers who will press our midfielders hard.
It is also key to start both compact/disciplined and with a high tempo, not allowing them to settle easily and, at least now and again, force our game on them. This will not be easy, but our recent games against Pool and the Mancs have been very good practice sessions, and as such we actually hold an advantage to Bayern who have not had a challenging game for a while now.
So how will we line up?
This is a question of choosing for compactness (4-5-1) or speed/counter-attacking football (4-3-3). The Back-Five is very likely to be Sz, Sa, Me, Ko, Gi and the double DM is likely to be manned by Flam and Jack; and Ozil and Giroud are also likely to start. This leaves us with the ‘mid-wings’. In one way, I would like us to start with Ox AND Gnabry and really take the game to them. Just go out there and enjoy ourselves… But that would leave the likes of Cazorla, Podolski and Rosicky out and we need their experience and maturity….
Therefore, I expect Wenger to go half way with one of either Gnabry and Ox and one of Cazorla, Podolski and Rosicky. Rosicky offers both compactness and decent speed, but he seldom scores (or even assists). Pod scores when he wants but does not offer the compactness and required stamina for a game of this stature. Santi likes a free role and is great support for OG and Ozil, but not so much for his full back…. Not an easy choice for Arsene to make.
With Ox in scintillating form, I expect him to play ahead of Gnabry tonight. He could offer the X-factor tonight, but he will need to play with full discipline and composure throughout the game, and let’s hope he learned from his lucky escape on Sunday…
So, here is my predicted (and preferred) line up for tonight’s super clash:
I have a good feeling about this game and Flamini is right that we have momentum again. Let’s hope that our recent adversity will have strengthened the team’s resolve and desire to finally claim a big CL scalp once more. Now that would be sweeter than sweet!
COME ON YOU RIP ROARING GUNNERS!
Time to pull down those Lederhosen and show them who is top Arse! 🙂