AS Roma v Arsenal; The Season’s Turning Point
Arsenal venture into the Stadio Olimpico tonight knowing that defeat and elimination will have many repercussions for the club.
The stories of not being good enough will emerge once more, the criticism of Wenger, his failure in Europe will start doing the rounds, and there will be comparisons as to Wenger’s record in the Champions League and Benitez’s record. To be frank that is a hollow argument, when you see that Benitez’s teams in the Premier League have been absolute garbage and have never come close to challenging for the title, then add to that the money he has spent and you realise that he is not as good as people like to make him out.
We take a one nil lead which is a dangerous position, do you stick or twist? Well Wenger knows only one way of playing football and that is attack. It will not be all out attack, but a cautious attack.
Wenger used a 4-5-1 tactic when we reached Champions League Final; he used the same formation in the first leg. My only criticism with this formation is the use of Bendtner on the left wing. If Bendtner is to be used against Roma, his task needs to be the main striker, the man to hold the ball and bring others into play. Nasri is more effective playing behind the striker. This position gives him more room to play football and the enables him to change the direction of the game.
Eboue will have a crucial role to play, he will be required to play a more defensive role tonight, he will be required to provide Sagna with adequate cover and also to tuck infield and assist Denilson and Song.
Unlike last year when we faced an ageing AC Milan who were playing for penalties, tonight Roma will attack us, this will put our defence in the spotlight. The defence has stiffened up in recent weeks and we will need to see another resolute performance from all the players. Gallas has shown us in recent weeks what a steady defender he is and he has helped Toure recover his form. Clichy needs to clear his head and remain focused for the whole game, too often, he has had one or two lapses in concentration we have cost us goals, tonight he cannot afford to do this, or we will have another Birmingham moment with Gallas.
The key to tonight is to play a tight game, not to try to defend for 90 minutes, because we cannot do that. If we can keep the score at 0-0 for the first 30 minutes, then Roma will start to get anxious and the spaces will open-up, when we get a chance, we need to score. Van Persie must find his scoring boots, as he has been culpable of some glaring misses recently.
Progress tonight will be a great boost for the team and players and set them up for a very interesting end of season, defeat and we will enter a period of navel gazing and rumours of players leaving as “Arsenal cannot match my ambitions.”
The match is live tonight on Sky Sports Xtra @ 7.45pm.