After beating the chicken farmers 6-0 at home, Arsenal have a chance of securing Champions League knock out qualification with 2 games to go tonight.
With Ludogorets missing the half dozen day labourers who have been unable to get the day off work at their London building site, tonight really should be a walk in the park.
A victory for Arsenal, and as long as PSG avoid defeat against Basel, will see Arsenal through to the next round for the umpteenth time in a row – I lose count; but I do not really care as we never win it.
There has been a lot of chatter about what side Arsenal should put out tonight:
I am of the opinion that Arsenal should put out the strongest line up possible.
Firstly, the point about Spurs. We play today, we then play again on Sunday – 12 noon (pubs on Holloway Road open at 10am). That is a full 5 days between. Plenty of time to recover before Spurs. Obviously anyone carrying a knock after Sunderland should be rested if not fit to play, but there is no need to rest anyone before Spurs.
After Spurs, we are then into another international break (thanks UEFA!). We do not play our next game until November the 19th against Man U, so there really is no benefit resting and rotating now.
I would much rather we go and win this game, then rest and rotate against PSG and Basel.
But we want to finish top of the group you all cry.
Let me get something straight, I really do not care about finishing 1st or 2nd. At the end of the day, you have to play the top sides in the Champions League at some point if you want to win it. If you get knocked out in the 2nd round, the QF or SF against them, it does not really matter if you do not win the competition.
The only benefit of getting a bit further is a little bit more money. And a few coefficient points. There is no difference between getting knocked out in the 2nd round against Bayern Munich or getting knocked out in the QF against Bayern Munich.
And finishing top does not guarantee an easier draw. Last time we finished top (2011/12), we played AC Milan in the knockout stage. We lost 4-0. There side contained the likes of 32 Abbiati, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Van Bommel , Seedorf, Ibrahimovic and Robinho.
As things stand, if we finish 2nd, we could face the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid or Juventus. But we could also face Napoli or Monaco.
Meanwhile, if we top the group, we could end up with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund or Sevilla. The other sides could be Copenhagen or Besiktas.
So it does not make much of a difference finishing 1st of 2nd.
Also, looking at Arsenal’s upcoming fixtures, PSG is sandwiched between trips to Man U and a home game against Bournemouth, whilst a visit to Basel is after West Ham away, and before Stoke City at home.
Between the next international break and Christmas, Arsenal play:
9 games in 29 days. A hectic schedule. Win tonight and it means that 3 of those 9 games we can play a 2nd string. It might be sacrificing top spot in the Champions League, but it gives us the best chance of getting top spot in the Premier League.
To those out there today (I imagine you are all in bars and not reading pointless blogs) enjoy the game. I am in now way jealous that I decided to go Sunderland away rather than visit Sofia.
Up the Arsenal.