Just for once I believe that the force is with us. After a dreadful series of results, the green shoots of a premature recovery may be breaking through. The reason? In the space of a week, we have a new Captain, a new CEO and most importantly a new level of focus. I have always said in my blogs, that I love it when people write off the Arsenal, because we retire to the bunker and come out fighting. We are at our best, when we are supposedly down and out. When faced with the impossible task, we deliver. Last season, it was the game against AC Milan in the Sans Siro. This season I believe that it will be at Stamford Bridge.
Injuries are against us, with Adebayor, Sagna and Samir Nasri only rated as 50:50. But I do believe that Adebayor plays better when under pressure. When his place is not a given certainty, we see a different Adebayor, probably the one that managed to fool Arsene on the training ground that he should not have been sold last year. Take Eboue for instance, when he is fit will he remain one of the chosen ones? The problem as I have said before, is that many average players appear untouchable from the very high standards required at the Arsenal and they are in a comfort zone from the salary point of view, with respect to their unchallenged palace in the team.
I am convinced that the tide will turn, not to win the premiership you understand, but to make a top four place certain. We need to qualify in the top three in order to avoid the qualifying rounds due to the changes planned in the format of the Champions League for 2009/10. The changes that were announced following the debate about Liverpool being Champions of Europe, but not qualifying to defend the trophy, which means that in future if the Champions league winners fail to qualify as of right from their respective association, they will still be entered into the competition.
This will have benefits for other nations too. If the current Champions league winners qualify in their league as well as having won the competition, then a team from a lower ranked football association such as the Scottish premier League will obtain a qualifying place. This is because the top 22 ranked teams will now go directly into the group stages. Only the fourth placed team in the top associations will have to undergo qualifying rounds, but this time it will be much tougher as they will be pitched against the second placed teams from these lower ranked associations from the Netherlands and Portugal and Scotland.
Chelsea and Liverpool seem certain upon current form to obtain the first two slots. The third and fourth places are by no means a certainty. Chelsea’s draw against French side Bordeaux last night sees the form of the South Londoners taking a relative dip prior to our fixture. They were less than convincing against a Newcastle United side, and with Drogba suspended, could this fixture hold more prospects for The Arsenal? The history of our encounters, mean that before the advent of Mourhino and Abromovich, we used to consider a match against Chelsea, a game where we would be unlucky to lose.
Now everyone expects us to be beaten easily, and that is exactly where I want the anti-Arsenal media to be. Come Sunday, this team will turn around their fortunes and give the Russian tarts a lesson that will resonate around the Premier league. A thumping victory may be too much too ask for, but I reckon that we will sneak it at the end through Adebayor. He is certain to raise his game as after the goal by Niklas Bendtner against Dynamo Kyiv, for finally he has some competition for his place. My prediction? Chelsea 1 Arsenal 2. Even a draw will do, as again it will silence many of our critics. What is certain is that this fixture will create major headlines come Monday morning. Let’s hope for our club’s sake, that those headlines are the right ones. The renaissance of our great team and manager!
Fabregas the king.
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