Arsenal play Partizan Belgrade at the Emirates tonight in the final game of the Champions League group stage. It is a must win game for the Gunners, and anything other than victory would be a major embarrassment for everybody connected with the club. The thought of missing out on the Champions League knock-out rounds is unthinkable.
After a shaky win against Fulham at the weekend, Arsene Wenger's men should come into tonight's match with some confidence. Arsenal have had a tremendous record at the Emirates on European nights, and if I'm not mistaken they have been pretty damn good this year as well. After spanking Braga 6-0, the Gunners dominated Shakthar 5-1, so it bodes well for us that the weakest side in the group is the last team we must face. That's 11 goals scored at home this season in the competition, with an Eduardo consolation being the only blemish on an exemplary home record. Belgrade are rooted to the bottom of the group with 0 points, so Arsenal should be overwhelming favourites ahead of tonight's contest.
However, we all know that football is a funny old game, and everybody loves an upset, so long as its not against your team. Arsenal should not underestimate this Partizan team, but they should expect to beat them, and in a comprehensive fashion. I expect nothing less, but on a crucial night like this evening I just want a win. Despite missing our captain, we have the most in-form player in the country in Samir Nasri. The Frenchman has been terrific this season and has flourished into an important member of the squad, plus he is on fire right now. He is undoubtedly one of the first guys on Wenger's team sheet these days, and providing he is 100% fit he should start tonight. But our crafty manager likes to shuffle his cards from time to time, so I wouldn't be surprised to see some important players rested ahead of the Manchester United game next week. I'd like to see Theo in the starting lineup, as well as van Persie who should be close to full fitness by now. Koscielny has recovered from his unfortunate head injury, so he will take his place in the centre of defence alongside Squillaci, and just in time too as it seems Djourou has picked up a knock on his thigh. Whatever side Wenger puts out, they should be good enough to do the job tonight and secure our place in the next stage of the Champions League. I will be down the pub in just over an hour to get a good seat for the match, praying for an early Arsenal goal to settle the nerves. If we get the required result, expect a post about it tomorrow. If we lose... well we won't think about that, ok?
Thanks for reading.