Oh for fu...
So it's back to European Cup action tonight and the sort of game that European competition is really all about. When I was growing up AC Milan were the best team in the World. They had Maldini, Baresi (the dirtiest, most cynical player, I've ever seen), Rijkaard, Gullit and, the best of all, Marco Van Basten. Even in 1995 when I first got to see them in the flesh at Highbury they were still number one. Arsenal gave them a decent going over in the first-leg that night but couldn't score. In the second-leg we were outplayed, but had a perfectly good goal by John Hartson disallowed at 1-0 down. An equaliser would have landed the Super Cup, just a week or two before George Graham got sacked.
The current vintage of AC Milan gives little for Arsenal to be frightened of, or intimidated by. Any team with Kevin Prince Boateng as first-choice is lacking something. The fact that Milan are top of the Italian league perhaps says more about the state of Italian football than it does for the quality of their team. Having said that they did get a draw in the Nou Camp in this season's first group matches. While there is certainly nothing to fear, there is plenty to make Arsenal realise they are in for a tough game. Milan are a well organised team and will be tough to break down. They have Ibrahimovic (who only plays when he feels like it) and Pato (who seems to have not yet fulfilled expectations for his quality) up front. They have enough to hurt us, but only if we allow them to do so.
The Arsenal team is also lacking in certain areas, obviously. That is clearly why we are scrapping for fourth instead of first in the Premier League. However, with the attacking players we have at our disposal we have more than enough to put the Italians under pressure. The pace of Walcott and Chamberlain will scare the hosts and make them wary of coming forward too much. Anyone who saw the way Bale and Lennon got at them late on during Spurs' visit to the San Siro last year must appreciate Arsenal's greatest weapon tonight is speed. Personally I see a case for leaving out Robin Van Persie tonight and playing Thierry Henry instead. The lower pace of the match will given Henry time on the ball, and allow him to bring his wingers and Rosicky/Ramsey (whichever gets the nod) in to the game high up the pitch. There is also the small matter of trying to keep RVP as fresh as possible during a very busy period of big games. We have one more match to make use of Henry, so let's see him play from the start.
The need for Arsenal to score in Italy is paramount. If we can't win the game (which is a very tough ask) I would take any score draw. A defeat by the odd goal, provided we score, would not be a catastrophe, but I don't like the idea of going in to the home game facing a deficit. The away goal is all important, and a late 1-0 win would do me just fine, thanks very much. It's a big night for two giants of the European game.
Pictured above are three new Nike shirts for next season (with thanks to some bloke I don't know on Twitter). The one on the left is Arsenal's new home shirt. I can only say that it is horrible. What is with the dark neck and the blue hoop on the sleeve? Then there are the black socks. What exactly is going on here? It really is time for Nike to be ditched as the stuff they are producing is not only poor quality, but it has increasingly little to do with the heritage of Arsenal Football Club. Red shirt with white sleeves is not that difficult, surely?