Morning all. We've got the Champions League again tonight and I'm pretty excited about it. Not only is European competition great to watch but it gives us another chance to rebound from the defeat to Hull before we play in the league again. It's FC Port tonight, a Portuguese team known for producing great young talents such as Deco, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Maniche, Costinha, Benni McCarthy, Jose Bosingwa and Ricardo Quaresma, and won't be an easy match to say the least. However, if you follow the "10 points and you qualify" rule in the group stages, this is probably a match we need to win. At the moment Porto are 4th in the Portuguese league but they are undefeated and will definitely be looking to have a crack at the team after what happened to us on Saturday. Arsene Wenger stated how important this match was:
“In this Champions League group you know you go through with 10 points,” said Wenger.
“The calculation is quite easy. You win your three home games and you are through.
“In some groups you have two good teams and two weak teams. In this group you have four strong teams. That is why home form will be vital.”
He's right, we really do need to take all three points from this one. I'm hoping for a really good atmosphere at the Grove tonight to get all the players' spirits lifted and push them on to a good result.
Injury news is as follows: Samir Nasri is fit again, but Abou Diaby (he's been out forever hasn't he?), Eduardo, and Tomas Rosicky are all out. Alex Song has also been ruled out for this one. It will be nice to have Nasri back again because he provides creativity in the way that Cesc does but is also capable of a good long dribble or a powerful shot from distance, which is always a bonus. I think we've missed him in the side and while Theo has of course done well for us, he does need a rest sometimes too.
Speaking of resting, the boss has said he will rotate players for tonight's match. He says the changes are simply for resting players and not for punishment, but I think certain players probably could use the rest along with the punishment. He wouldn't really say which changes would be made to the eleven we had against Hull but I'd like to see Gallas get a rest, along with one of the strikers and maybe Denilson. The problem is who do you put in their place if you do sit them down. Striker is easy because we have Bendtner and Vela on the bench who are both of immense quality. Midfield could maybe be Aaron Ramsey, but we don't have many other options there. In defense we have Djourou and Silvestre, and I'd love to see how a Djourou/Toure partnership would do, but I doubt we'll see it. The boss really seems to hate "resting" Bill Gallas.
So even with the rotation I'll try to go out on a limb and pick the lineup here:
This is Porto's 11th trip to England in their history. They have never won. We need that to continue. While they have lost maybe their best player, Ricardo Quaresma, to Inter Milan over the summer, they still have lots of quality, notably Lucho Gonzalez. It's going to be a tough match for sure, but one that we have the quality to win and need to show it.
My match prediction: 2-0 to the Arsenal. I think we'll have enough quality and the defense seems to do better with Djourou in there, so I think we'll be able to keep a clean sheet. Scorers are Adebayor and Nasri.
I'm excited for this one so let's go out and get three points! Cheers all!