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Battle of Britain Part Deux

Battle of Britain Take 2!!!

Battle of Britain Take 2!!!

Is it a tale of what happens in Scotland stays in Scotland or is it a happy ending that results in our continued run in the UEFA Champion’s League? Well, only 90 minutes on the pitch will tell.

After taking two very important away goals off the Hoops (okay only one was off the Hoops the other was off of Gallas’ rump) last week, every prognosticator, including this one, are making the Gunners heavy favourites to advance to the group stages of the Champion’s league. A loss for Tony Mowbray’s men mean’s European relegation to the newly launched Europa Cup (oh joy).

Coming into this match up 2-0 might lead some to believe that team is focused on the next EPL match against fellow big four squad Manchester United. However, Arsene Wenger is preaching focus for this match and not looking foward.

“We have to give absolutely everything,” he said. “It is a more important game than Saturday for the club, by far, because tonight you cannot catch back. Saturday, even if you drop points against Man United, you can always catch back, you have 35 league games still to go.

“If you miss your game against Celtic you have zero, it is a massive game,” he added. “It’s not job done yet – it’s job to do against Celtic, a job to finish. We have done a big part of it and we want to get over the line.”

By all indications, Wenger is set to start a very strong side with one notable exclusion. Captain Cesc Fabregas is out definitely for the tie nursing a sore hamstring. It is expected that Welsh wunderkid Aaron Ramsey who replaced Fabregas this past Saturday against Portsmouth will slot into the spot.  Even with Ramsey’s promise, the loss of Fabregas cannot be understated.

In all three games played (2 EPL – 1 UCL) Fabregas has been amazing, showing great skill and ability in creating forward momentum for Arsenal’s attack. Even when he doesn’t score, Fabregas is featuring in nearly every one of the build-ups to netting a goal. You need not look any further than the sweet pass to Denilson against Everton that unlocked the troubled side at the 26th minute and started the goal flood.

That being said, the team has many attacking options and a midfield of Song/Diaby, Ramsey and Denilson isn’t as bad as some others out there. Again, Wenger looks to roll out the 4-3-3 that has been so fluid and so effective thus far. I expect one change to the formation from last week with Eduardo starting in place of Bendtner. While the Dane has been effective, he looked a little out of sorts against Celtic last week. So I expect this to be one change from the starting XI from last week.

Whichever team he selcts it is very important that the efficency of the squad at home continues. Both for the sake of the match and for the season.

“For the sake of our season we have to be strong at the Emirates. Any time you are weak at home it has consequences for the game and for the season.”

It is an imperative then that Arsenal followup on this past weekend’s performance (4-1 drumming of Pompey). Remember last season, woeful slip ups at home abain, Hull, Villa, Fulham and Sunderland were part of the reason that our lock in the big four was in question.

As as easy as it looks for Arsenal, it looks equally as hard for the Bhoys from Glasgow. Prior to matching up with Arsenal, The Hoops were down 1-0 against Dynamo Moscow and went on to win the next leg 2-0. However, Tony’s boys need to score three at the Emirates in order to advance.  Mowbray is pushing his boys to score early as he believes such a goal would unnerve the Gunners and their supporters which in turn would favour the green and white side from Glasgow.

Celtic will still be without Stephen MacManus and Barry Robson. Landy N’Guemo, who picked up a second yellow in the last week’s tie at Parkhead, is suspended, so Scott Brown could feature in his place. Additionally, you can expect that opposite to last week, Scott McDonald and Marc Antoine Fortune will start.

With Fortune and McDonald and the desperation of the Glaswegians, we should expect the game to be open from the start. No feeling each other out in this one. It will be an immediate pressing attack. Should Arsenal score first, it is over. Conversely if Celtic score first it could be a long afternoon.

All that being said, I do believe the attacking options for Arsenal are much more than Celtic can handle. Our defencive four are growing together very well with Gallas and Vermaelen gelling into (hopefully) a very formidable pairing. With Arsenal having all cylinders clicking, I expect to see a very fluid game with the Gunners coming out 2-0 at home with a final aggregate score of 4-0

Probable Starting XIs

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Diaby/Ramsey, Denilson, Arshavin, Eduardo, Van Persie/Bendtner

Celtic: Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, Loovens, Fox, Brown, Donati, McGeady, McDonald, Fortune, Maloney


For Arsenal to win today, as much as I like the spreading around of the socring duties – I want to see a striker get off the mark. Ideally I’d like to see Arshavin get off the schnide. It would be nice to see his first goal of the season be in the Champion’s league. As happy as I am that Adebayor is gone and as up and down as he was – 5 goals in last year’s CL run is nothing to look away from.

For Celtic to win, Boruc needs to be big. I absolutely loved this guy last week. If not for him, the game by the opening 10 of the second half would’ve been 3-0 and well out of reach. He attacks the ball well, is a big presence in the net and he does a very good job at distributing the ball to his team mates.

Match time is 2:30 EST and will be shown live on FSC.

and finally – – – – As much as I hate being on the Dole (out of work), I love the fact that I have alread seen more CL matches this season then I was able to watch last season. Speaking of which – anyone know of an advertising or marketing organization looking for a marketer?

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