The joy of Cesc

If we can keep Cesc Fabregas fit then we can win the league. There, I said it. Our Spanish sparkler may well wish to ply his trade in a certain Catalonian cathedral back in his homeland but in the north London sunshine against Bileton he looked very much at home to me. There were a number of notable displays but Cesc delivered a sumptuous performance. He admitted in the match prog that he was not on his game up at Blackburn but by God (Dennis) he ironed out the creases to pull the strings in our 4-1 win over Owen Coyle’s thuggish plebs.
For me he stood out as truly world class and with a bit of luck with injuries and with him at the helm I am sure we can mount a credible challenge and even win the bloody thing. Wise words at such an early stage of the season, I know, but we have to have belief, right?
Let’s skip the match details that have been published in abundance already but instead look at who we DIDN’T have in the team on Saturday. It augurs well. If anyone had told me in the summer that our back four for the second home game of the season would be Gibbs, Koscielny, Squillaci and Eboue I would have organised some medical help for them.
So, Bileton dispatched with reasonable ease, next to the home of football are the Portuguese outfit Braga who arrive on these shores for a Champions League clash on Wednesday.
And it would seem the level of interest in the game isn’t perhaps what it might once have been. The half-time announcement at the Emirates on Saturday that tickets for the match have gone to general sale evidence of that.
My contention is that the first group stages of the CL are losing their luster. The way the groups are seeded means more often than not should you win three of your games and nick something on the road then qualification is more or less guaranteed. What fans want is knockout football but, of course, the reality is that the more games that are played the more revenue is generated and money makes the world go round, let’s face it.
Braga, who beat Celtic as they came through two qualification rounds, come to the Arsenal Stadium (we can’t call it the Emirates on European night because of UEFA and their branding deals) having lost 3-2 to Porto at the weekend. They are now third in the Portuguese Liga table.
An ever cautious AW sees it differently. He insists taking qualification for granted would be folly. ‘For us a win on Wednesday night is vital, because I believe the group is much more difficult than people expect it to be.
‘Braga finished in front of Porto last year – we played against Porto and know they are a good side. Also, they have just kicked Seville out in the play-offs. Shakhtar Donetsk are one of the best European sides, that is why I believe it is very important we start well at home.’  Indeed it is, sir.

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