In mere hours, Arsenal will know their path to the final
I don’t think anyone will be surprised to see Michel Platini’s hand fondling some balls later today. But unlike when he normally participates in this activity, today it will yield results that are relevant to football. Given his antipathy towards English teams, I fully expect Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal to all be matched up against one another in the quarter-finals. That might be the only way Platini can rest assured that two of the English clubs go out before the semis. What will be even more fun is listening to him explain how “random” and “unlikely” it was for the four English teams to be drawn against one another. I recommend that he first review Phil Brown’s instructional video on how to sound like a complete lunatic while lying through your teeth.
Michel’s anti-England agenda aside, this should be a very interesting draw. It’s easy to suggest that we would like to be drawn against Porto or Villareal, but given how this Arsenal team have performed versus supposedly inferior opposition, we might be just as well facing Barcelona. Part of me would like a reunion with our old friend Thierry and given the way Barcelona play football, the tie would undoubtedly be a very open, and entertaining affair. It might even suit us. The only thing that none of us want to see is another English side. While I believe we can beat any team on the planet, the excitement of the Champions League is derived from testing yourself against top teams from other European nations.
If I had to rank the teams left in the tournament from strongest to weakest, with Arsenal omitted due to a possible lack of objectivity, my list would look like this:
- Manchester United
- Bayern Munich
That’s how I see them stacking up right now. Within the next four hours, we will have some mouth watering fixtures to debate. Here’s hoping that the draw is kind to us and that we are spared an all-England affair.
I spent part of my day today watching the Blackburn and Hull games again. What else would I do with my time? It gave me an even greater appreciation for Arshavin and not just his footballing ability. Clearly the opening goal against Blackburn was an own goal. But most redblooded footballers waiting to open their account for a new team would try to claim it as their own. Not Andrei. If you watch his goal celebration carefully, he laughs, shakes his hand “no”, and gestures that the goal was scored by a Blackburn player. Rather humble I thought. Replay would surely confirm that it was an own goal, but I’ve seen some crass attempts by strikers to claim even the most dubious goals. That’s not Arshavin’s style.
Even more impressive was his reaction to RVP’s equaliser in the Hull game. Van Persie was captain that night, but it was Arshavin cutting the celebrations short and instructing the team to get the ball back to the center circle and keep fighting for the winner. He appears to have the character to be not just a star player at Arsenal, but a leader as well. It’s a wonderful bonus considering that he immediately becomes one of the senior members of the team.
In closing, I suppose I must mention that the FA have indeed gotten involved in spit-gate. I cannot find one instance where Brian Horton has said that Cesc Fabregas spat at him. The closest I could come was his defense of Phil Brown’s accusations, saying “He was there, wasn’t he, and knew what he saw.”
“He” was there? “He” knew what he saw? Weren’t “you” there? Why on earth would Brian Horton say “he was there” rather than just saying, “Fabregas spat at me.” Besides, we’re still not even certain that Brown saw what he saw.
This whole thing smacks of fabrication and I’m certain that Fabregas will never hear about it from the FA again, despite the Daily Star already issuing him a four match ban. More likely Phil Brown will be hearing from the FA regarding his attack on Mike Riley. Now, I will never be confused for a Mike Riley apologist, but Brown’s comments were over the line and I will be shocked if they go unpunished.
Fabregas is back in training and I expect that he will be back in the squad for Manchester City as Wenger has suggested. The only ban facing Fabregas is from the fashionistas for his outrageous attire on Tuesday. Thank God we have Phil Brown to point out the fashion faux-pas. Once he is sacked as Hull manager, he can certainly find work providing his commentary on celebrity attire at red carpet events.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about the hot mess of a team known as Newcastle. For now, fingers crossed for a good Champions League drawn.