In the aftermath of our comfortable win over Celtic on Wednesday night we couldn’t have asked for much more from the Champions League group stage draw in Monte Carlo yesterday evening.
With no disrespect to Olympiakos, AZ Alkmaar and Standard Ličge on paper we should qualify comfortably from this group. If we don’t we won’t deserve to go any further than simple. That said, the game is played on grass, not paper. I remember too many Arsenal European slip ups – Winterslag in 1981/2, Red Star Belgrade in 1978/9, Spartak Moscow in 1982/3, Ajax in 1971/2,  Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1996/7, PAOK Salonika in 1997/98 – we need to be efficient and ruthless in this group.
Before our game at Old Trafford tomorrow tea-time we’ll know our opponents in the third round of the Carling Cup. The draw takes place tomorrow at 12.15pm and will be live on Sky Sports News for those with access to this channel. I’ve come to really enjoy this competition. Ironically I think I enjoy it more since we started playing the kids. It’s a chance to see how they’re doing. More often than not they put on a good display. Tickets are usually much, much cheaper, both home and away, than for matches in other competitions. The crowd at the Grove is always much younger and more local than for other games.
We now need to put all other considerations aside and concentrate on the biggest test of the season so far in the League. Three points up there would REALLY crank up the volume in the league campaign. I’ll suffer a point however.
After Old Trafford there’s an international break. A large number of our players will be flying off to the four corners of the Earth. Let’s hope they all return fit for the resumption of domestic hostilities at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Monday also sees the transfer window close until the New Year winter window. I doubt now whether we’ll see any inward movement. One or possibly two players leaving is more likely. There’s always room for a surprise however.
I close with my personal take on the Eduardo penalty incident last Wednesday night. I’ve looked at recordings umpteen times now. I think he dived I’m afraid. Arsčne has done what Arsčne does in these situations and defended his player. Personally I don’t like cheating in any form. I think Eduardo cheated, as did Robert Pirčs against Pompey a few seasons ago. I don’t think you have to pine for some Mr Chomley-Warner era of Corinthian sportsmanship to be depressed by cheating (in which I include deliberately violent fouls). I for one don’t want Arsenal to win that way. We’re a decent team which I think will really blossom in the near future, why cheat? I think Celtic are entitled to be honked off. We were clearly the better side by a good margin over the two legs. We can’t even cite desperation (not that that would be an excuse). Nobody wants Arsenal to win more than me. I just want to win honestly.
Keep the faith!  

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