As an Arsenal supporter I go into this very important Champions League match on a high after the consecutive pummelling of our dear deluded Tottenham friends from down the lane. You can only imagine that the players are also feeling on a high after such a victory. It just goes to show how big a part psychology has to play in this wonderful game that we love so much.
What mustn't happen though is an assumption that turning up will guarantee us victory just because we feel 'a little bit good' about ourselves after the weekend.
We beat the French champions on their own turf in match day one but let us not forget that they were going through a pretty tough time domestically but also that they were in fact the better team on the night and will feel more than hard done by that their second half domination didn't reap any rewards at the full time whistle.
Today they are a better team than when we faced them and they have zero pressure on them as they are not able to progress.
I am interested in watching Rémy Cabella who tore us apart in France. He looks a player full of ability on the ball and with the wide spaces of the Grove pitch he will need to be shackled.
As for the mighty Gunners, we have some good and bad news on the injury front. Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs walk past each other in the corridor that joins the treatment room to the Arsenal dressing room. Theo Walcott's awkward landing on his shoulder means that he misses out of proceedings this evening while the much missed Gibbo is back in the squad.
I asked the question on twitter about who will miss out in our defence tonight and many sensible people made some good points, One that my assumption that Gibbs will drop straight back into the team may be far fetched considering his time out through injury and it could mean that Arsene does not have to make a decision until our trip to Aston Villa. Others said that Bacary Sagna came straight back into the first team following injury, although I might add that he did actually have some 'under 21' games before his return to the team.
What was quite unanimous is that when the time comes the player to miss out for Gibbs is the current Arsenal captain due to his form of late. Not only that but given that Koscielny is currently reestablishing his partnership with Mertesacker at the heart of the defence, would it be wise for Arsene to change that area yet again?
It is a massive shame about Theo tonight. He is our form player right about now and his threat will be missed massively. The silver lining is that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked bright when he came on, on Saturday. We haven't seen his best form since his run in the team last season. Well perhaps that is because he hasn't had a run in the team. Like that makes any difference ey? Just ask that big guy who is banging everything in for Arsenal right about now.
Jack meet Alex, Alex meet Jack. These two exceptionally gifted Arsenal youngsters are yet to exchange passes in Arsenal shirts as yet, well at least in a match. I will go one better, they are yet to appear in a first team game together. They were close on the weekend but Wilshere was replaced before the Ox came onto the pitch. That could and should change this evening, well that is as long as Arsene doesn't throw his protective cape around Wilshere. Arsene may not want Jack to start two games in a week as yet given the nature of his previous long term injury but I doubt this will be the case, If he does then Aaron Ramsey would come in.
I am intrigued to see how Wilshere and Chamberlain combine on the pitch.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
Starting the game well tonight will be vitally important I feel. An early goal will settle the nerves hugely. Scrap the early goal, the first goal by Arsenal would do nicely whenever it comes. What seems to hinder us is individual mistakes leading to the opposition scoring and then having to chase the game. Can we play that game later please and just score first? Cheers.
We could qualify tonight if we beat Montpellier as well as Schalke defeating Olympiacos but is it ever that straight forward? I am not so sure that will happen this evening but I would love us to able to hand the kids a packed lunch and send them off to Greece to enjoy themselves in the final group game. Probably to lose 3-1 but a chance to rest Santi, Arteta and company would be worth the defeat. But like I say, I do not see that happening and the only thing that should be on the minds of the players are these upcoming 90 minutes.
Let's start stringing victories together, so a win please my lovely Arsenal.