Old Bill, Barca and the Knights of the Royal Arsenal

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by CARL ELDRIDGE Wouldn’t you just know it! Just as we start to sweat ahead of the Barcelona clash at home tonight in the first leg of quarter final of the Champions League, William Gallas appears out of nowhere.
 
The Mail says Bill has delivered us a timely boost by declaring himself fit to face Barca and Cesc Fabregas will be given as long as possible to shake off a knee injury.

The paper says Gallas has trained fully for the last three days and expects to make a return to the back four against the European champions after seven weeks out with a calf problem.

AW said: ‘If Cesc is fit, I will play him. The medical staff tell me there is still a chance he will be available but that will decided in the warm-up tomorrow night. That tells you how late we will leave it.

‘I would say 60 against, 40 for him playing. Cesc is desperate to play in every single game we play. Who wouldn’t want to play in a game like this? He always wants to play every day and I believe it is the mark of a great player that they want to do that and are happy when they do. He wanted to run off the injury on Saturday. I will know tomorrow whether I made a mistake or not in keeping him on the pitch.’

Cescs has his say in the Sun: “I’ll do everything I can to play. Ever since the draw was made I’ve dreamt about this game and I am desperate to play in it. I’ve never disguised my affection for Barcelona, it’s where I was brought up and where I learned so many beautiful things about football.

“But Arsenal have the same principles and this is our chance to show the world that we can stand shoulder to shoulder with Barcelona and emerge triumphant. You can’t imagine how much I want to be part of that.”

The Mirror says AW believes we can come of age by beating the reigning European champions and insisted they will not be intimidated by Barcelona.

AW said: “I believe that when you do something, whether it be writing, dancing, or playing football, if you do it at the best level it becomes art. Because what is art? It is something that is always good to watch.

“It is still a long way to go in this competition of course, but we can make history in kicking Barcelona out and that’s an opportunity we have.I believe the most important is that we know we play against a great team but it’s to make sure that we turn up with our best performance.

“And that we are not too much in respect of them but have a go. That we are brave and have a real go, that we express our strengths. I believe that the team is on a great run, has a great spirit, a great togetherness. The ingredients are there to deliver something special, let’s go for it.”

And in the Telegraph he adds: “That we are brave and have a real go, that we express our strengths. I believe that the team is on a great run, has a great spirit, a great togetherness. The ingredients are there to deliver something special.”

A triumph in this epic tie would, for Wenger, greatly accelerate a journey. “Opinions are there to be changed and what changes the opinions are the performances,” he said of his team.

“What is good in sport is that people assess continuously something that looks to be definite but actually is moving. And what moves the opinions of people is how well we play. I believe we have changed the opinions of many people since July and that now, until the end of the season, is how we will turn up.”

Henry Norris has clearly been on teh sauce before writing in his column in the Bugle: “Cry Arsene for the Royal Arsenal. Tonight of all nights is the night our knights fight, nice and tight, both left and right, let Barca take flight, and we’ll be high as a kite, er, at the end.”

 

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Arsenal fan for 40 years. Schoolboys, North Bank, Clock End then East Upper. Then Emirates. AFC dream team: Wilson, Dixon, Sansom, Adams, Pates, Brady, Williams, Pires, Bergkamp, Henry, Wright. Subs: Seaman, Eldridge, Wilshere, RVP, Ball. Manager: Arsene Chapman.