Right. Let’s move on. That wasn’t fun. At all. It was fairly inevitable, I texted my manc mates as soon as I saw the line ups, basically saying that it was going to be a bit of a massacre, and it was. A side with Traore, Hoyte, Gilberto and Eboue in lining up at Old Trafford, in the dismal form some of them have been in this season, I expected nothing less than a defeat. Similar to the Spurs game really. I can understand that the FA Cup was our third priority, our squad is no where near big enough to fight on three fronts this season, and the priority lies with the league, with the Champions League having the usual importance of being the only major trophy missing from Arsene’s haul. However, to lose 5-1 and 4-0 to our two most hated teams in one season, is completely unacceptable. We absolutely have to win the league this season now. Both losses were understandable, but the teams we put out seemed to give up at 0-0. We wanted it far, far less both times, and it’s not really good enough. The calibre of players we employed aren’t as offensively bad as those performances made them look.
Maybe the loss could be a bit of a galvanising moment. We’ve avoided the psychological aspect of going there with a full strength team and getting edged out in a close encounter, and hopefully it’s embarrassed and pissed off the players and the manager in equal measures to provoke a reaction that Milan won’t soon forget. United probably have the edge over us in the league meeting between the sides in April now, simply because of the way they absolutely monstered us from start to finish, and being the underdogs in such an important fixture might favour us, when we have players like Sagna, Clichy, Adebayor, Flamini etc back in the team. And maybe, just maybe, Robin van Persie. As positive as that all sounds as I type it, I’m still angry that we got utterly raped sideways because the players couldn’t give a damn about the result in front of 9,000 travelling Arsenal fans.
Milan have slowly been working their way back up the league in recent months, after being as low as twelfth in the table at one point (I think) they now find themselves fifth, a mere twenty one points behind their Milan rivals. In their last eight games in Serie A, they’ve won five, drawn two and lost one. Their home form was an absolute shambles at the start of the season, the first home league win of this season came on the 13th of January this year. Their away form has been what’s kept them anywhere near the Champions League places, but in the Champions League they lost away to Celtic. While this is without a doubt going to be an extremely tough game, against Champions League veterans, the current champions, who have been finalists in two of the last three seasons, this might be a decent draw for us, in terms of big teams. A win here could do for us what the win in Madrid in 2006 did for us.
It’s fairly good news in terms of injuries ahead of this game. Adebayor, Flamini and Clichy have shaken off their varied knocks, and will be in the starting line up, and Walcott and Denilson will be back in the squad. Sagna should also start after a family problem kept him away from the squad on Saturday. Djourou and Diaby are still injured and, of course, van Persie and Rosicky. Almunia is still recovering from illness, so Lehmann will continue in goal.
The first team is pretty much set in stone because of the injuries we have. Walcott won’t be used in a game like this, so it’ll be Hleb and Eboue on the flanks. Clichy and Sagna will return the defence to full strength. Fabregas and Flamini will partner in midfield. Wenger mentioned a few days ago that he was toying with the idea of playing Gilberto to keep track of Kaka, but I hope that, considering Gilberto’s current form, that we go 4-4-2 with Eduardo and Adebayor up front.
Subs: Fabianski, Senderos, Hoyte, Denilson, Gilberto, Walcott, Bendtner.
They obviously miss Ronaldo who is out for nine months or so after snapping some part of his leg. Kaka made his return in a Serie A game against Parma over the weekend, which is a shame as he’ll probably be fit to play on Wednesday. Alexandre Pato is a doubt but will probably play some part. Clarence Seedorf should be back in the side after an injury. Dida got stretchered off as a substitute in their last league game, after his back seized up while he sat on the bench, so he’s unlikely to feature. Their other goalkeeper, Zeljko Kalac, is a doubt as well, so they may be down to their third choice keeper, Fiori.