We’re about a day and a half away from beginning our Champions League knock-out match against Olympiakos and I for one, am excited. I’m excited because it really does all boil down to the performance on the night and for the first time in a few years of playing Olympiakos in Greece, the game actually means something, as opposed to being the dead rubber we thought it would be when we embarked on this season’s competition.
I’m excited because – and I say this in the knowledge that I have no impact on tomorrow’s game – Olympiakos are the poorest of all the teams we’ve encountered in our now customary quest for ‘glorious failure’. Let’s hope that we have the personnel on form to do the business.
One person who will have to perform will be Mesut Özil; our shining star so far this season and a player who looks up for the challenge. He’s saying all the right things and there’s no doubt he’s a confident lad at the moment, but his vision will be the difference against Olympiakos, if we do get through that is. Just think about that first goal on Saturday; not many in the team would have seen that pass to Campbell, let alone execute it properly (except Santi), to the burden to perform with that cutting edge feels like his and his alone at the moment. With no sign of Jack, Rosicky or Santi for some months either, that’s quite a time to be carrying Arsenal’s creative flow on one’s shoulders. He’s got to do the equivalent of what Alexis did in points last season, so it is possible, but we just have to hope he doesn’t get clobbered like his treatment room-bound teammates. More on how we’ll set up tomorrow.
Domestically, it’s a home tie against Sunderland in the FA Cup for us in January, which I’m sure nobody is overly enamoured by. There were a few permutations that I’d have found agreeable, Sunderland unfortunately, are not one of them. In the third round of the FA Cup you’d love to see a home tie against a lower league team. They’d bring decent away support, we could potentially rest players, yet still have enough technical quality to get through. Alternatively, for selfish reasons, I’d have liked an away trip to the North East. For me that means an away day to visit The Management’s family, combining the football as we go.
The only other decent permutation is where we get a big tie at home. United, Chelski, Liverpool or the Tiny Totts. Any of those would have meant a big night, probably under the lights, as well as a chance to lessen the number of ‘big’ teams in the next round. But Sunderland away is none of the above. It’s a mid to low Premier League team who we play every season, who we will probably not get to rotate too much and who we probably won’t see go toe-to-toe with us. It’s disappointing to say the least. All-in-all, it’s a pretty dull draw for us, I have to say.
Still, it’s another home game I get to go to as part of my season ticket allocation, so I can’t complain too much.
That’s all I’ve got for today. It’s a bit quiet in Arsenal land, if truth be told, as by the time of writing this Arsène hasn’t had his presser yet. That will no doubt come later and I suspect we’ll get a tiny snippet on how he’ll set up, which given our injury problems, will probably be exactly the same as the weekend! I’m offski, you have a good’un.