There’s quite a bit of news to get through, so lets just pile on through as the hours here tick on by – I is tired. I is thirsty. I is up too late and I is needing to go to bed soon. I is yawning.
News ahead of the AC Milan clash in a day’s time is ghost-fearing Manuel Almunia is set to replace Jens Lehmann yet again this season between the sticks. In a totally uncharacteristic move of Wenger’s, the German will be succeeded by the Spanish goalie despite not playing that badly in his handful of matches.
Wenger has often insisted that a stand-in goalie will remain on the line until his form dwindles or he gets injured – the latter certainly applied to Almunia recently, but neither concerned Lehmann while he enjoyed time in goal for Arsenal, only to find himself replaced by Almunia. While I’m all for Almunia and the excellent season he has had, I do not think Lehmann can be faulted for too much of late. Nevertheless, so long as Almunia justifies his inclusion (which I am confident he will), there wont be too many complaints from the Gooners.
What will be needed is a telling performance from Arsenal, after the shenanigans against Manchester United, especially given how underrated Milan (surprisingly) are. Their squad is very balanced, although somewhat aged, and Arsene Wenger acknowledges that the Italian club are the favourites. In an Arsenal.com extravaganza, the manager spoke both on his putting the FA Cup aside in his mind, as well as the ‘tempo-setting’ Matthieu Flamini, saying:
“Flamini has a similar style to Gattuso because of his size and the fact he’s always up for it. Mathieu is mentally strong and is a winner. Players who never give up mentally always improve. He’s responsible for the tempo in our game and he’s key to that on Wednesday.“
His improvements this season as a player have been well documented, and Wenger is spot on in identifying him as our key player and the source of our biggest chance of winning. If anyone can dislodge Adebayor and Fabregas as candidates (or popular candidates) for player of the season, it is Flattusso. Should William Gallas even dream of that honour, he’d do best to cut out on his Nani-kicking antics, which nearly cost him a retrospective suspension – only, they didn’t. Champions’ luck?
A bit of opinion is doing the rounds on the circuits as well, with Cesc Fabregas dreaming of Samuel Eto’o one day joining his Arsenal. The Catalan midfielder says:
“Eto’o is a phenomenal striker, he’s ambitious, he runs, he works for the team, he scores well and he’s a real winner. I would love to have him on my team.”
So would I. Fabregas probably plays a lot of FIFA or PES. More important opinions surround the upcoming AC Milan Fixture, and both Fabio Capello and Gilardino have given their tuppence worth – Capello being particularly praising of our side while Gilardino rates his own team. Again, Milan should never, ever be underrated in this competition.
Finally, there’s a collection of Champions League odds doing the rounds over here, which make for interesting reading. I’ve put them in order for you here, for easier reading, though the in-depth analysis is in the article. As follows:
- Barcelona: 3-1
- Manchester United: 5-1
- Chelsea: 13-2
- Real Madrid: 9-1
- Inter Milan: 10-1
- Arsenal: 10-1
- AC Milan: 12-1
- Sevilla: 14-1
- Liverpool: 16-1
- Lyon: 25-1
- Roma: 28-1
- Porto: 33-1
- Schalke: 66-1
- Fenerbache: 100-1
- Olympiacos: 125-1
- Celtic: 150-1
Interesting odds, and Barcelona are certainly too high. Manchester United and Chelsea’s odds are correctly weighed up, while Inter, ourselves and AC Milan always have a chance. Liverpool will be interesting to watch – given the pressures they are under – while Sevilla may have more legs than Lyon, though I do not see neither winning it. Schalke will bore most to tears, while Fenerbache remain most peoples’ favourite underdog.
And with that, I’m off to that bed I promised myself. Match preview tomorrow – rest easy.