From the moment Robin Van Persie split the Steaua defence to release Theo Walcott, we knew the dutchman was back. And at just the right time. In recent games we have missed the creativity of our no.11, even more so with Hleb and Fabregas out. His vision and skill surpasses most in our squad and with him in our team we are a far larger threat going forward. He peels off into the role just off a main striker and is brilliant at it. This was vindicated in his pass to Bendtner for the second goal. The way he showed for the ball and in a quick flurry of movement had played in his strike partner. It took time for him to recover but the fact he started last night is surely an indication he will be fit for Sunday – great news!
I was not able to get to the match last night but having watched the highlights a few things impressed me. I can only go on what they show but certain aspects were clear. First of all Abou Diaby played very well. He is a very direct and strong player with good technique for such a tall and lanky player. His finish was excellent an he seemed to cause problems when driving from midfield. The way he glided past players with seeming ease really encourages me that Diaby wants to push on and push for a regular place. He might be worth a role alongside Flamini (if fit) come Sunday afternoon.
The second thing I noticed almost immediately is that Theo Walcott showed the new toughness and positivity he has mentioned recently. He was much stronger on the ball than he has been and seems to have learnt how to use his brain more; that is when to beat players with pace, when to pass and when to use a bit of trickery. The only thing missing was the finish. His pace is electric and I would prefer him over Eboue for Sunday. He is comitted and never gives up, his defensive work was solid and he was a real menace when running at the opposition’s goal.
Lastly – Nicklas Bendtner showed once again what a talent he is. His hold up play was excellent and the finish for his goal was so assured. He took his time, picked his spot and placed it with great accuracy. Many would have snatched at the chance; with two players around him he could have taken it early but waited for the perfect moment. It was his first chance of the night, that is the mark of a clinical striker. I know we all want Theo to succeed up front, but right now Bendtner is way out ahead of him. Walcott was good on the wing and for now should ply his trade there as he develops his game. Bendtner is playing very well and I am sure will be a first team regular before too long.
It was annoying to concede a goal, especially such an easy one. The defending wasnt the best throughout the second half, but with half the back four rested and progression already assured, it is understandable. The most important thing is that the fluidity going forward was back last night. Some of the passing was fantastic and everyone played their part. It will not be as easy to play the ball around against Chelsea, but if we can play to the levels these players can, with a bit of luck, maybe a player or two coming back into the side, there is no reason why we cannot win that game.
We will be drawn against either of these teams in the first knockout round:
Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Real Madrid or Porto.
I had a gut feeling we would play Barca at some point in this year’s Champion’s league, it seems destiny it will be early on. All these games are going to be tough, but we did it on the run to the final two years ago. Many will say Porto is the best draw. Of course they are the least strong team here BUT look what happened last year with PSV. Many claimed we had the best tie out of the English sides – we were the only ones to go out. This team is confident and on our day can beat almost anyone, bring ’em on I say!!!