So we are through. We did it The Arsenal way – the hard way. But we are through. We survived the hell that is Turkey, an awful refereeing performance and a below par Arsenal performance. But the most important thing is we are through.
Alexis Sanchez showed selfless running, challenging for every ball reminiscent of Luis Suarez. Jack Wilshere had his best game since he was a teenager. Santi Cazorla worked hard. Matheiu Flamini did not get booked. Matheiu Debuchy looked an improvement on Sagna.
Some say we should have cruised through, that Beskitas’ season has not yet started, but lets remember, they have played 4 competitive games this season (2 qualifiers v Feyernoord, 2 v Arsenal). That is the same amount of competitive games as Arsenal. They also had an entire week to prepare for us. We had a couple of days.
A battling performance which showed great mental strength.
Champions League Draw
So we are through (have I said that yet?). Now to look forward to the draw, which will be this afternoon at 16.45. Arsenal are in pot one. But who can we face?
Pot One: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich,
Chelsea, Benfica, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Porto.
Pot Two: Schalke, Dortmund, Juventus, Paris St-Germain, Basle, Shakhtar Donetsk,
Manchester City, Zenit.
Pot Three: Bayer Leverkusen, Olympiakos, CSKA Moscow, Ajax,
Liverpool, Sporting Lisbon, Galatasaray, Athletic Bilbao
Pot Four: Anderlecht, Roma, Apoel Nicosia, Bate Borisov, Ludogorets, Maribor, Monaco, Malmo
Dream draw: Arsenal, Basle, Sporting, Maribor
Nightmare draw: Arsenal, Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco
Omitted last night, many people criticised the decision, wondering what he had done wrong. But the fact was, it was the right decision. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are better individually, and better as a partnership. You play your best players, and Chambers is the 3rd best centre back at the club.
At 19, he is extremely talented, but it is important that he does not get over hyped, with too much pressure put on the lad. There is talk of him getting an England call up for next weekend’s International’s. I would rather he stayed with the under 21’s, out of the limelight. Remember, this is a guy who has played just 3 competitive games at centre back.
His talent is not in question, but his game is still error prone. His slip against Demba Ba in the away leg. Playing the world onside for Everton’s 1st goal, diving in for Everton’s 2nd. He also has a problem under the high ball, often misjudging his jump.
Let him develop in his own time and he will become World Class.
So we are through (I said it again). We have banked around £25m. There are now no excuses. We can offer the money, we can offer the success, we can offer top level football. We now need to go out and buy, and buy big.
With Olivier Giroud out till January, we need a striker. Even if the big name’s of Cavani or Falcao are not available, we need to add to the forward line. Go out and get Loic Remy – a proven Premier League striker – who can do the job until Giroud is back. Or Mattia Destro – Maybe not World Class, but Roma’s top scorer last season.
On the other side, I hope we do not waste big money on someone like Jackson Martinez or Danny Welbeck.
We also need to add in midfield and defence. Likely to be a dual player, someone who can be 1st choice defensive midfield, 4th choice centre back, we need someone. Let’s spend big and get in the right man.
Sadly, I would not be surprised if we bought no one. And this could cost us success this season.
Enjoy the draw.