Morning all, very quick one for you as I’m leaving Oslo today. Caught some of the Champions League action last night in a place where there were a lot of unhappy Bayern Munich fans.
3-1 to Porto. Oooof. That last goal when the defender missed the header, you don’t see that every day from Bayern. It’s almost as rare as seeing a player getting nutmegged twice with both of them ending up as goals for Luis Suarez.
The chompy one was in good form for Barcelona last night, twice making a chump of David Luiz whose face after each goal was the perfect blend of bemusement and barely disguised woe. Surely not even Zlatan can save PSG in the next leg at the Camp Nou. Are we on the way to a Barcelona/Real Madrid final? That would be fun.
From an Arsenal point of view it’s surprisingly quiet which is often the case when things are going well. Per Mertesacker has been speaking about the semi-final on Saturday, saying that the team are going to have to deal with the pressure and expectation of being clear favourites against Reading. He touched on last year’s game, also against lower league opposition, saying:
No one expected us to lose, for Wigan to go through and that will be the case again. We are more prepared but you are never perfectly prepared. There will be different situations and the team will have to grow in the match again, we will have to face the expectations and pressure.
We’ve often spoken about this team needing to learn lessons and so on, but any hint that we make be taking the opposition for granted in the build-up to this one and they should be forced to watch last year’s semi-final, eyes kept open with matchsticks, until they get it.
It was a seismic moment for the club. We were within 8 minutes of mayhem, no two ways about it. My feeling is the manager’s position would have been untenable, and even if he hadn’t gone by his own accord, and even if the club had given him a new deal, he’d have lost a large swathe of people that were humming and hawing over him.
Now, add that disappointing start to this season to the mix and there would have been huge disquiet – and I think that word underplays it considerably. It took a Mertesacker goal to bring us to extra-time and then a penalty shoot-out to get to Wembley. We made hard work of the final too but at this point in time it doesn’t matter because, you know, we won the cup.
But that’s a danger for us this weekend: to assume that because Reading are currently 18th in the Championship that this is a game we just have to turn up to win. I mean, I’m sure they’re not doing that consciously but the sub-conscious in football can be an absolute arsehole so we have to make sure we’re on top of that like a fox.
Meanwhile, Wellington Silva has finally received his EU passport after years on loan in Spain. Congratulations to him and it certainly opens up a world of possibility to him as to where he’s sold to this summer. Seriously though, he’s 22 now and it would be a Coquelin Mk II if he were to come back and make an impact at Arsenal after struggling for Almeria, Murcia, Ponferradina, Alcoyano, and Los Pollos Hermanos.
Recent events, and the Coqueltastic way Francis has come back into the team, make you realise you can never say never about a player, but unless we send him out to Charlton where their fountain of Wizard Jism turns players into almost unrecognisable first team material then I still can’t see it happening for him here.
Right, that’s about that because I’ve got to get to the airport and shit. I’ll be back tomorrow with an Arsecast during which we’ll preview the game against Reading on Saturday and everything else besides.
Have a good one.