Given the way we’ve played this season, it’s hard to be too enthused about the Champions League draw yesterday. As much as I like to be positive about the state of the club, it’s a far fetched idea to think that we could potentially win the most prestigious European cup competition around. Of course, this is speaking from a position where the January transfer window still haven’t come into play. What we do there could influence our chances in the next stage of the competition and there are still two months for the injuries to take its toll on the squad. Likewise the case with our opponent, Bayern Munich.
Now, I celebrated at the fact that the former German champions and current Bundesliga leader was picked out from the pot to face us. This was a glamour tie, one that would make pulses racing more than say if Malaga were drawn to play us. Then again, there might be people who would get rather excited about playing Malaga (no, I don’t mean Santi Cazorla) because it meant that we are an equal chance of qualifying to the next round. Which is a fair point but I don’t begrudge anyone for saying so. If you ask me, I rather not win the cup the way Porto did. They may have beaten Manchester United en route to winning the cup but they didn’t beat too many other big teams. Would rather see us do it like in 2006, beating the big names along the way, though with a different end in the final.
There’s plenty of quality in the current Bayern side, lots to be admired. In Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kross, Philip Lahm, Thomas Muller, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Xherdan Shaqiri, Bayern have a whole host of technically adept players who would run rings round most teams. Whether we eventually end up being one of those teams, still remains to be seen. The match-up is interesting because we have our own technically adept players who, on their day, could even give Bayern a taste of their own medicine. All in all, a tie to savour and too early to say what will happen. At this point, Bayern are the favourites.
Before that, there are other things that needs to be done. League and FA Cup games that have to be played before we welcome Bayern to the Grove. It goes without saying that for us to have the best chance of winning that tie, is for us to have a very good run in the matches mentioned above. We now have won two consecutive league matches and the run simply have to continue if the injury gods do not wreck further damage to our squad.
At the moment, we’ve managed to keep the players relatively fit and apart from Abou Diaby, almost all the players we want to be fit are fit. Diaby’s talents was never in doubt but we are caught in a continual lingo if we perspire to wait for him to put his injury concern behind him. Coming back to the players available to us now, there are more chances to make changes to the side, to allow certain players extra time to recuperate from their exertions.
With Olivier Giroud and Tomas Rosicky coming back to the fold and not forgetting Jack Wilshere’s unrestricted return (thus far), Arsene Wenger has at least the luxury to make one change every game with the intention to rest. I wouldn’t want to see too many changes and let it disrupt the understanding we’ve built in certain parts of the pitch. It is not hard to believe that we could cope with one normal starter being on the bench. If the change doesn’t work, then at the least, we could still make changes at half time and the player would still have played 45 minutes less.
The other areas which we need to work on is on the squad itself. There are still a handful of players who are just getting weekly/monthly salaries without contribution. Whether that is because Wenger don’t fancy using them anymore or just because they are not good enough, depends on where you stand. I don’t think there’s a need to name names as we all know who they are. The list might differ from one person to another but common names could be found on each and every one of those lists. If we could just shift these players out and replace them with players who could be trusted to contribute, then we’ll be in a far stronger position to win most games.
Selling and replacing is one part of it, the other being retaining the players that the manager wants. It’s a double job to think about new recruits and maintaining those that we have, at the same time. Both parties need to come to an agreement and hopefully that it would work in our favour. The contract extensions of the 5 British players is a welcomed news for all Arsenal fans. If we could add Bacary Sagna and Theo Walcott to the list, then I’m sure we would all be happier.
Much to look forward from now till we play Bayern Munich.