Standard Liege/Chelsea/Gremlins

The good news is we’re through to the round of sixteen of the Champions League at group leaders with a game to spare. The visitors from Wallonia hit the self-destruct button for our first goal, a defensive error leaving Samir Nasri free to accept Thomas Vermaelen’s routine long ball forward and slot home. If we had been playing cricket rather than football last night the umpires would have inspected the ball for tampering after Denilson’s long-range Exocet for our second. Talk about move in the air. You had to feel a bit for their goalie.
The game wasn’t quite as comfortable as I would have liked but, courtesy of the woodwork, we did manage to keep a clean sheet. The bad news of course is those ‘orrible, persistent injury gremlins cast their evil spell again last night. Kieran Gibbs is reported to be out for two months with a broken metatarsal bone in his foot. Outstanding. William Gallas is also struggling for fitness for Sunday’s monster derby clash with League leaders Chelsea. Great.
At least we can now put the Champions League to rest until the New Year now and concentrate on the League. We’ll know who our opponents will be in the Champions League on Friday 18 December at 11.00am GMT when the draw is made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, near Geneva in Switzerland. Just before we kick-off on Sunday against Chelsea the draw will be made for the third round of the FA Cup. I’m sure all eyes will be on the six-pointer about to kick off at the Grove but I for one still love the FA Cup. I personally find it depressing that most Gooners would rather qualify for the Champions League than win the oldest club competition in the world but I accept that I’m in a fairly small minority.
Don’t get me wrong I adore being in Europe. Like all Gooners I’ve become terribly spoilt with our almost automatic qualification for the Champions League. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the unique experience of the FA Cup too. In any event all that’s for the future. We now need a ruthless focus on Sunday afternoon and three points against Chelsea. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’ll be out of contention in the League if we don’t come up with a win on Sunday. We’ll really be a long way back in the queue if we don’t get the three points however.
Keep the faith!

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