Date: 4th May 2009 at 8:08pm
Written by:

On Sky

Not much needs to be said about this match. The importance is there for everyone to see. Twenty years ago Arsenal famously needed to win by two goals. We’re in the same situation today.

I’ve been pretty calm and relaxed all week. An inordinate amount of school work has kept my mind elsewhere. My halcyon state of mind has vanished though. The reality and magnitude of this fixture has officially set in as I write this. I cannot wait for the next 24 hours to be over.

Vital Quotes:

Here’s what Wenger had to say in his pre-match interview:

‘Everybody is focused and ready for the game,’ said Wenger.

‘We are all aware it is our team performance that will be important rather than the responsibility on any individual.’

‘Against a team like United you need the team to defend well and that starts up front. We will want to put pressure on them. We have to be positive about the team and optimistic about this team.’

‘I am very confident the team will produce a magnificent performance and that we will manage it.’

‘We lacked a bit of sharpness in the first leg. We will make sure that sharpness and decisiveness in the duels will be on our side on Tuesday.’

‘We play a home game where we have a strong record in the Champions League. For many people we are outsiders, but I personally believe we will do it.’

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal fans have been calling for the Professor to line the troops up in a four, four, two formation tomorrow. Well, it seems they have got their wish. van Persie is in the squad and ready to go. He will partner Adebayor, who needs to bounce back from a disappointing showing in the first leg. Silvestre might be fit, as the Boss labeled him as a ‘maybe’.

Predicted Starting XI: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Gibbs, Walcott, Song, Cesc, Nasri, van Persie, Adebayor

Player to watch: Everybody

I cannot pick just one player. As Arsene said in his interview, tomorrow will not come down to an sterling individual preformance, but instead a great collective team preformance will be needed to overturn the deficit. Everybody is the player to watch. This also includes the home fans. I know you will be marvelously loud, and the team will be exponentially better for it.

Manchester United Team News:

Good news for United fans is that Evra and Rio will start. O’Shea will most likely keep his right back spot, even though Gary Neville is back. After Neville’s last trip to the Emirates, Sir Alex will want to keep him as far away from the pitch as possible.

If Ferguson is stupid enough to start Berbatov over Tevez, I will be overcome with joy. The gritty Argentinian brings so much more to United, in my opinion, than the silky Bulgarian. I have a feeling we will see the former Tottenham striker take the field from the outset, which is fine by me.

Possible Starting XI: van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Fletcher, Anderson, Ronaldo, Rooney, Berbatov

Player to watch: Rio Ferdinand

Whether Rio is fully fit will be crucial to this fixture. Him and Vidic did an outstanding job quarantining Adebayor at Old Trafford, but if Ferdinand is not 100% than Ade might be able to get the best of him.

Match Facts & Stats

Robin van Persie, Abou Diaby, Samir Nasri, and Alex Song are one yellow card away from missing the Final if we get there.

Tevez, Rooney, and Evra are also one yellow card shy.

Manchester United have kept a clean sheet in their last three Champions League away matches.

Arsenal have not conceded a goal at home in the Champions League this season.

This is Arsenal’s 100th European home match. Our record at home is 64 wins, 23 draws, 12 losses.

Ref Watch:

Italian referee Roberto Rosetti will be the head official in this match. He was also the head ref in the Euro 08 final between Spain and Germany.

Match Prediction:

For me, if Arsenal is to move onto the final, there is only one scoreline that is possible, 3-1 to the home side. It will take a gargantuan display from the Gunners to make this possible. Skeptics everywhere are asking does Arsenal have this kind of preformance in them? I say, why the f*ck not?! Arsenal wins 3-1 to meet Barcelona in the final of the UEFA Champions League!

Next Fixtures:

10/5 (Sun) – Chelsea (H) – Premier League

16/5 (Sat) – Manchester United (A) – Premier League

24/5 (Sun) – Stoke City (H) – Premier League