Arsenal Spyin Kop (Long)

Posted by archie on October 30, 2013, 10:35:57 PM

Eds note: many thanks to Archie for this fascinating Spyin' Kop. He acknowledges it's very long but worth reading. Maybe in chunks ;) Hinesy

Many thanks to our resident gooners: MagicHat, Sol89, Ben_AFC and an Arsenal supporting mate of mine, Dan for taking the time to answer
a few questions before Saturday.

Before the season began, what were your thoughts and expectations?
Ben_AFC: Like a lot of Arsenal fans I think, for me this summer was characterised by an overwhelming feeling that our squad was too thin and that we needed to reinforce or else expect our doom. I know you’re all aware that the ‘North London Derby’ is a big game for us, but I think it’s worthwhile stating that over the past few years our rivalry with Spurs has greatly intensified due to how close we’ve finished. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that finishing behind Spurs would be as bad a relegation in my mind and this summer I had a real fear that this season could be the season they finally overtook us as they seemed to be doing great work in bring players in.

At the same time, I knew our squad was capable of winning games, and Wenger was keen in preseason to remind us of the run that the club were on since the spring. Overall though, my feeling at the beginning of the season was one of an impending crisis, and that we were experiencing Wenger’s last season.

MagicHat: Low. A few panic buys near the end I was expecting but with Spurs and Liverpool having taken such strides in the transfer market and we, having weakened our depth while adding no improvement to first 11 by that point, it was shaping into a disastrous summer. I was expecting a struggle for fourth which we would lose and rising discontent would make things unpleasant throughout the season.

Sol89: Expectations were that we would sign one big player, that Wenger would be "pressured" into spending. I'm paraphrasing Gazidis here but we were told that we could afford Rooney and more. There was a general feeling going around that there might be an opportunity to go for the title given all the managerial upheaval occurring at the other top 4 clubs.

Dan: Our form at the end of last season – since the 2-0 victory at Bayern Munich – was encouraging. Defensively we seemed more secure than we have done since the run to the CL Final in 2006, though this came at the expense of attacking flair and we were grinding out results a bit. Transfer windows are a testing time if you follow Arsenal, but there were no high-profile departures and much of the ‘deadwood’ was cleared (Chamakh, Squillaci, Denilson, etc). With managerial changes at other clubs I was confident of a top four finish, possibly higher, and with less stress than in the last 2 years. I was worried about a lack of attacking options (would’ve loved Higuain to have signed), but we know what happened next…

The first game was a bit of a disaster. I got the impression lots of fans had ‘had enough’ (of the manager, board, lack of spending, lack of trophies etc) Would that be a fair assumption of that period?

Ben_AFC: Well yes. I’m sure you’ve all seen the video of Chris Hudson ranting after the Villa game on youtube. It was spread around Arsenal fans because it articulated, clumsily but passionately, what many were feeling. What you may not know is that Chris is a renowned glass-half-empty sort of chap and was one of the chief ringleaders responsible for the fan pressure to take down Terry Neill in 1983 that involved marches and all sorts. From the outside the reaction to the game probably looked to many like another case of the overreacting Arsenal boo-boys after a game in which we conceded two penalties (one dodgy) as well as a dodgy red card, however as those who have paid closer attention for the past four or so years can testify, it was the result of years of frustration.

A full answer to the feelings of the fans would take up more space that I’m sure you’re all willing to read, but a combination of high ticket prices, the repeated sale of our best players and captains, the seemingly empty rhetoric from those at the top of the club about money to spend, the perceived failure of the club to reinforce the squad in areas held by fans to need reinforcement, coupled with the deterioration in our style of play made the loss to Villa feel like a sort of tipping point. As long as two to three years ago, groups like the ‘Black Scarf Movement’ (black being chosen as the only colour not to have appeared on an Arsenal kit) were organising marches under the banner ‘Where Has Our Arsenal Gone?’. There has been simmering angst felt by our fans for years. It came to a head against Villa.

MagicHat:I think sometimes people overplay the trophy part of the discontent but yes, discontent was rife. Less so with the board, who had been the subject of anger in previous years, with it shifting towards the manager for what was happening on the pitch and in transfer market. This summer was the one where nearly everyone agreed we had money to spend, whereas it was always disputed in other summers, so that added fuel to the fire. Even those fans loyal to Wenger were increasingly unhappy as the summer increasingly turned into a farce.  Had Ozil not come in, the mood would be toxic at the club.

Sol89: Frustration would be the word to sum it up. We weren't a million miles away from challenging. We finished the last campaign really strongly, I believe we were the form team for the second half of the season. Adding 1 or 2 quality players would go a long way to bridging the gap. We had only signed Flamini at that stage and we were still waiting  for the marquee player to come in. The concern and unease was absolutely justified imo. The referee in the game (Anthony Taylor) also had a nightmare which didn't help.

Dan: I think the overriding feeling was the lack of spending. I don’t think fans have turned against Wenger. I certainly haven’t. At the start of the summer, Gazidis very publicly increased pressure on Arsene to spend, spoke up our spending power, prominent members of the squad were calling for reinforcements, and we then saw reported interest in Jovetic, Bender, Higuain, Suarez, Rooney, etc amount to nothing. Couple that with a poor result against Villa and the frustration bubbled over. In fairness, I think the referee (Anthony Taylor) had a shocker in that game, and has continued to blunder his way through a number of games since. We also missed Arteta who got injured in the final pre-season friendly, and that third goal was really galling to concede. It highlighted a lack of depth in the squad at that point, which added to the animosity.

Ozil + Flamini = a crack at the title?
Ben_AFC:  No I don’t think so. They’ve certainly increased the quality of the squad, and they’ve gone a long way in soothing my fears about Spurs, but I can’t see us finishing above 3rd at best. No one would even mention the title if it wasn’t for the improvement of Ramsey and Giroud though.

MagicHat:The quadruple/treble (delete as appropriate after our heroic victory/defeat against Chelsea) is ours good sir!  The additions have given us a big boost, one hole has been plugged while Ozil lifts the club. I expect us to be outside shots for title but in a position where a good summer could give us a real crack next season.

Sol89: They've certainly added a lot to the squad and we're in a much stronger position than last season with them here...however, I still feel there are a couple of gaps in the squad that will cost us in the end. A medium to long-term injury to Giroud and I think we'll fall away. Mertesacker is also a crucial player at the heart of our defence. But if the injury gods are good to us up until January, and we add a versatile forward to the ranks, then why not? I would like to stress that I'm under no illusions - our squad isn't the strongest in the league. If City or Chelsea get their acts together, their ceiling is higher than ours. I'd be delighted if we could break the 80 point barrier for the first time in more than 5 years and I believe we're in a good position to achieve that.

Dan: Possibly. Ozil is a joy to watch, and has clearly lifted spirits amongst the playing squad. Flamini has been missed since he left, and was a key member of the 2007-08 squad that finished 3rd at year. Also important are the likes of Mertesacker, Arteta, Cazorla – experienced players who can keep the others in the right frame of mind (reacting well to inevitable disappointments, and hanging on for victories when we play poorly). I think this is our best chance for a number of years, not least because of the managerial upheaval at Utd, City, and to a lesser extent Chelsea. All three will be stronger next year.

Are the fans behind Wenger or are some just staying quiet as the wins rack up? To clarify: has he lost a section of the support he will never get back?

Ben_AFC:  Short answer: yes I think he has lost a section of support that he will never get back. I’ve been hearing Wenger Out songs in pubs and things before away matches for at least three years now. I think there were and remain a lot of fans that question Wenger on football reasons, not transfer ones, and stress that the game has changed while he’s stayed put on that front. They will take a lot of convincing.

However, I don’t feel those people represent close to a majority of fans today. Wenger earned a huge amount of credit within the club through his success, and it took a long time for fans to begin to want him gone - I know football fans are fickle, Arsenal especially, but from what I’ve seen, a lot of people who took their time in questioning Wenger are now supporting him again and there is a sense of optimism at the club not felt for years. Wenger proved this summer that he can still attract the best players in the world.

MagicHat:A few will remain quiet until something happens and then rise up to attack. I don’t think he has lost a section of the fans but simply got less patience now among majority then he once did. A Giroud injury might not help.

Sol89: I know my fair share of Arsenal fans who want him gone regardless of our current run of results. Personally, I feel that the signing of Ozil has signalled a sea change in Wenger's approach to his role. We needed a marquee signing and Wenger delivered one in the end, that was the main question mark for me. His failure to adapt/evolve to the inflationary nature of the transfer market had cost us in the past. Spending £42m on one player would indicate that the stubbornness which he is so famous for has diminished. I wanted him to change, not to go. I'll admit to panicking in the final week of the window but he pulled a rabbit out of the hat. A lot of people who previously had doubts about him have had to reassess their stance since Ozil signed. And I believe they're well within their rights to change their opinion of him, or at least renew their faith in him for a while longer. We completed the 2nd biggest transfer in British football history. It's a big turning point for the club and it really feels like the start of a new era.

Dan: I can’t speak for them all. I believe that a significant number of the ‘fans’ in the Emirates every weekend are ‘fairweather’ to say the least. Ticket prices are prohibitive to large numbers of the real supporters, and you end up with more affluent, less perceptive crowds instead. Real Arsenal fans want to see Wenger win more trophies, it would be very disheartening to see him leaving without winning another PL. I believe he will succeed, and that the fans will be behind him.

Do you believe he is still the man to take the club forward?

Ben_AFC: How far? There’s still talk of him leaving at the end of this season when his contract expires. Özil said he signed because of Wenger - and although Wenger’s belief in his players through their ‘thin’ times can be frustrating, you only have to look at Ramsey now to see that he still knows what he’s doing.

MagicHat: More than I did a few months ago but jury is out for me. He has changed it would seem, he has adapted and if sticks to that rather than revert to old habits, I’ll be happy for him to get a new contract.

Sol89: The signs are good. We seem to be transitioning towards a more counter attacking style which has traditionally brought us success. He's also addressed our need for a bit of variety in midfield by bringing Flamini back. So tactically, he's showing a willingness to change. Our obsession with possession seems to have gone away. We're a more direct side now and we're moving the ball forward quicker. Again, that was a question mark over his head. He's demonstrating some pragmatism which is very encouraging. Coupled with the Ozil signing, I believe he's earned himself a contract extension and I'm happy with that all things considered.

Dan: Yes. I can't think of anyone I would rather have there that we could realistically attract. The example of the Ozil signing this summer – he spoke to him in German for hours to convince him Arsenal was the best place for him – says it all. Players revere him, and outside of England I think he is afforded much more respect than some realise, though similarly to Benitez is unjustly pilloried in the English press at times. I do wish there was a bit more tactical flexibility in harder games, but Steve Bould’s influence is beginning to shine through in our defensive performances, and he is a good appointment as No 2.

Does Wenger now have a blank chequebook?

Ben_AFC: No I don’t think so - and even if he did I think he’s said himself that he wouldn’t spend it. Wenger has made is known often that this philosophy, and the club’s philosophy is for ‘60 to 80 percent’ of Arsenal players to come from within. The point of the new stadium was to enable us to afford to buy quality in the other 20-40 percent, and hopefully it looks like we’re seeing that now.

MagicHat:Not blank and there will always be richer clubs, but a considerable cheque book. Do wonder if we need to change the way we handle transfers though.

Sol89: If he wants a certain player, the board will back him. But it remains to be seen whether he goes big again. Time will tell I suppose. But the funds are definitely there if he wants to use them. The board trusts his judgement absolutely.

Dan: No. The increase in spending power is down to the expiry of contracts with Nike, Emirates, etc that were signed to finance the stadium, and were well under market value as we needed cash up front. Wenger’s financial record is well documented, but nonetheless remarkable. To have remained ‘in the black’ on transfers over the last few years is rare, and to have maintained the consistency we have is hugely admirable in my view. I think we can afford a marquee signing every year now, but don’t expect to see £100mil per summer like Chelsea or City (and Spurs ha, ha)…

Are you surprised at Ramsey’s form this year?

Ben_AFC: Yes! I’ll happily admit that Aaron and Arsène have shown me up for the know-nothing berk I am, because I used to think Ramsey was too slow, and too sideways to make it as an Arsenal midfielder. But look at him now! Although Suarez is making a late bid for the title, he’s been the player of the season in the whole league thus far. He’s confident, he’s incisive, he’s direct - he’s like a totally new player!

MagicHat:If you mean before the last six or so months, then yes, I thought he would need a move away to rebuild his confidence.  By end of last season, I was thinking he should be ahead of Wilshire in the team and hopefully push on, add a few goals but this surpasses all hopes I ever had of him.

Sol89: I'm surprised by how prolific he has been in front of goal. But in terms of his general play, no I'm not surprised. He was terrific for the final 3-4 months of last season and he's merely carrying that on. His confidence has fully returned and he's fulfilling his potential. I'm not just saying this to big myself up but I genuinely rated him higher than Wilshere pre-injury. Quite a few people did, actually. 

Dan: A bit, but I’m delighted. He has been through such a lot. Before he got Shawcrossed he was ahead of Wilshere development-wise, and it seems the natural order has resumed due to Jack’s own injury woes. I am surprised how quickly he has turned it round, but he was excellent in the run last season, without scoring as many goals and therefore slipped under the radar a bit. He’s been a revelation and again, credit goes to Wenger. If Ramsey had been at Chelsea, City, etc it’s likely he would have been replaced or stagnated in the reserves or on loan a la Essien.

With players like Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain to come back, where does everyone fit in? Do you have a ‘best XI’?

Ben_AFC: It’s tricky to pick an exact First XI because our riches in midfield allow us to pick sides that offer different qualities depending on opposition. I think when Walcott comes back he will make it in though because his pace will frighten teams into player deeper, and thus allowing Santi, Ramsey, and Özil to do the most damage. My XI would look something like this.

Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Walcott Özil Cazorla

MagicHat:Oxlade has a battle to get back into contention but that won’t be a bad thing, just like Wilshire having a battle for a place, I imagine Walcott is a starter most games. We have missed a wide player at times so either winger back will help, we also need attacking subs as it is clear Wenger doesn’t quite trust the ones we have right now.
A best 11? Wide right and second pivot are probably the area’s where we don’t know our best eleven but other areas of midfield can be changed around depending on fitness or tactics which is nice.

Sol89: Walcott starts when fit. He gives us variety and a potent counter attacking threat. There's only 1 position in the team that is debatable and that's whether Arteta or Flamini starts. As for the rest of the team, I'd go with this:
Cazorla Ozil Walcott
Ramsey ?
Gibbs Koscielny Mertesacker Sagna

Dan: Depends. Theo is most effective against teams that press high up, and against such teams it would be:
Sagna – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Gibbs
Ramsey – Flamini
Walcott – Ozil – Cazorla
To be able to add Arteta for extra defensive acumen, Wilshere, Rosicky or Oxlade-Chamberlain for added energy and guile (especially against sides that sit deep), and even the likes of Podolski still to return means that we have a very strong midfield. If Giroud got injured tomorrow, I think we would have to re-think our gameplan a bit, as no-one else can perform his hold-up role.

Where do you think you need to strengthen? Do you anticipate any deals in January?

Ben_AFC: Hopefully we’ll pick up a striker and a right back. I’ve seen a lot of people comment that we need another centre-back but I think Sagna and Vermaelen are extremely able deputies. Sagna himself said that he expects to play more centrally in future - and that’s if he stays!

MagicHat: We could do with Sanga signing a new contract or that could be distracting. We badly need a second striker as Wenger clearly would rather chew off his arm then throw on Bendtner with 15-20 minutes left. Another winger for depth. In the summer we can look for top quality in certain areas.
I expect a few loans out, a few contract stuff sorted but anyone we bring in will be for the future I suspect. Maybe, maybe a depth striker.

Sol89: I anticipate we will go for a forward, a versatile one hopefully. Bendtner is not in our long-term plans so Wenger will be wanting to resolve this at the earliest opportunity. It will be difficult to bring in a high quality player in January though so I'm not particularly optimistic on that front. But we will be looking. Perhaps a CB or RB depending on what happens with Vermaelen and Sagna. The former won't be content sitting on the bench forever and the latter has about 8 months left on his contract. We might pre-empt their departures with a January signing.

Dan: Wenger will only sign someone if he sees the requisite quality. I would like a loan move for Llorente, which is not beyond the realms of possibility. He also likes Benzema, and there’s talk of Real going after Suarez in January. A cut-price deal for the Frenchman would be desirable. Another centre-half would also be good. Vermaelen is likely to want to leave if he doesn’t get enough playing time (World Cup year, etc).

We’ve seen Arsenal have good spells and fall away in the last few year. Any reason to think differently this year?

Ben_AFC: Dortmund aside we’ve shown impressive resilience towards the ends of game, something missing in recent years. If all we’re talking about is mental strength - perhaps this is a sign that something is different? Additionally the squad seem to be very tightly bound this year - they look to be genuine mates and the team spirit is very high. Hopefully something to keep them playing together when things start going wrong.

MagicHat:Better organized at the back, more willingness to tinker in midfielder for tactical reasons. My concern is one of the big reasons we failed in the Eduardo year: exhaustion. Back four haven’t had much of a break, neither has Giroud, they may have nothing left by crunch time.

Sol89: No, I think there are still legitimate question marks. We traditionally struggle in November. Let's see where we are in January. I'm loving that we're currently top of the league but it's tinged with caution. There's a great sense of optimism (triggered by the Ozil signing) and togetherness within the squad and amongst the supporters right now. I suppose that's what the main difference is.

Dan: There’s a much stronger character in the squad, and more togetherness as well. The pressure they were under after losing at Tottenham last year was immense, and they put together a brilliant run to finish 4th. I think they are able to handle the knockbacks a bit better than previous teams. Having said that, you can never tell, and a scenario where Ozil and Giroud were missing for any length of time would be very worrying. So much of it is luck – staying clear of injuries. In 2008 we finished 4 pts behind Utd, and were without RVP for much of the season, and Eduardo had his leg broken. And Gallas cried. If we avoid a repeat of any of those incidents then who knows?!

Who are your biggest rivals in any possible title charge?
Ben_AFC: Well I can’t see anyone other than Man City or Chelsea winning the league this season, but for argument’s sake Liverpool look great so far too.

MagicHat: Man City, Chelsea with Liverpool and Spurs as outsiders. Still too early to tell if we can really make a title charge though.

Sol89: It's hard to say so early on in the season. On paper, I'd say Chelsea and City are the favourites. But Liverpool are going well and United are like a cockroach, I'm loathe to write them off. I'll give a more definitive answer once we're past the halfway stage of the season. I'm not getting carried away with our own league position right now either. 

Dan: Unfortunately, Chelsea. Bastards. Man City too unpredictable, Moyes completely out of his depth, and Liverpool & Spurs are aiming for fourth place.

Liverpool then, what do you make of them so far this season?

Ben_AFC: You’ve had a great start to the season. Suarez and Sturridge are a partnership that would be a headache for any team in Europe. I must confess I’ve only watch two full games from LFC this season but they’ve both been wins there has been some very attractive football on show.

MagicHat: Pretty impressive. I expected them to improve and make a good fight for the top four. Still too early to say if you can aim for more than that, I suspect you will fall away a tad but still do better than expected.

Sol89: Very surprised. I thought the turmoil of the Suarez saga would have had a larger impact on your fortunes. I believe there was a general consensus that top 4 was the target this term for Liverpool but there is potential for a few clubs to capitalise upon Chelsea and City's slow starts to the season. Why not be ambitious and aim high?

Dan: They are playing a nice style of football, and Suarez and Coutinho are class. Sturridge is good too (the chip against West Brom was glorious), but that celebration is utter shit.

How do you think Brendan Rodgers has done so far?

Ben_AFC: The season is still young, but the club seemed to have pushed on from last season and bought well over the summer. As I said, I haven’t watched too many full games of Liverpool yet this season but the style of play has also seemed pretty good. As you’re all aware, the club hasn’t been in too great shape over the past few years so to look at Liverpool now, you’d have to recognise that under the Rodgers the club has made clear progress.

MagicHat: Useless, sack him for Pulis now! Before our game!
Think he has done really well, learnt from what he did right and wrong in first season at Liverpool and changed. He makes Liverpool play a good way, he fits tactics round what he has and he has improved the team quite a bit. I don’t know how far he can take you, what his final level of ability will prove to be but, if I was a Liverpool fan, I would be excited at the future under him.

Sol89: I'm a fan of his style of football, that's the first thing. He's also made some quality purchases in Coutinho, Sturridge, Mignolet and Sakho. That's the best part of a spine for the next 5+ years probably. Overall, I'd say you've got a manager who doesn't just want to win a couple of trophies and "survive" but a guy with a vision of how he wants the club to grow, to evolve its identity. Managers like that are few and far between.

Dan: He is doing a good job, and has made some good signings. Some not so good (Borini, Allen). They were disappointing last season though, and he needs to seriously challenge the top four this year. If he can’t manage that with Suarez in the side then he is underachieving. I find his way of talking about and describing football a bit tiresome, but players seem to respond to it. He’s a good coach, with a big ego - he clearly holds himself in very high regard.

Do Liverpool have a realistic chance of top four?

Ben_AFC: Yes I do. I think Chelsea and City will decide the title between them, but the other two spots can be made up of anyone between us, United, and Spurs. I don’t see any of those four teams being clearly better than the others.

MagicHat:Yes. I had you as outsiders who would come fairly close and build on that for a real claim next season but you seem ahead of schedule.

Sol89: Yes, you have a realistic chance.  Arguably the best strikeforce in the league and a good roster of defensive options. But there are 5 other clubs who expect to make top 4 this season too. It's going to be an intensely competitive season and there are going to be 2 big casualties. Too early to call who they might be.

Dan: We’ll see. Much like us, they have not had a particularly difficult fixture list so far. I think if Stoke had scored that penalty on the opening day things would be different now – I think their confidence was, and is still fragile. Brendan doesn’t have experience of needing to put a run of results together at the back end of the season either, so we’ll wait and see.

Suarez, be honest, you wanted him didn’t you?

Ben_AFC: Well, yes and no. I’m sure one of the other lads will give a fuller answer to that, but suffice it to say that Arsenal has a lot of ethnic minority support here in London, particularly within the Afro Caribbean community and there’s not a lot of tolerance for racism. In addition, actions like biting other people kind of give off a bad impression if you know what I mean. Footballistically (to borrow a word from Wenger’s dictionary that bizarrely spellchecker isn’t flagging up), Suarez is a class apart. Truly a spectacular player, and had he joined then perhaps I would have been talking about a realistic title challenge from us.

MagicHat: No, possibly the only £40 million plus player whose arrival would turn fan against fan. My dirty secret is I thought Liverpool buying Sturridge was a bad mistake.

Sol89: I really wanted him! My stance has been consistent throughout. 

Dan: Yes. Quality. Best forward in the league.

Where do Liverpool need to improve going forward?

Ben_AFC: I’m afraid there are probably better authorities on this than me. Although I only watched the highlights, some of your defending looked a bit suspect against Newcastle. You can probably tell I’m fudging this answer a little bit as you lot will know your weaknesses far better than I.

MagicHat: My instinctive off the top of my head reaction was fullback, which I soon disagreed with, and central midfield. I do sometimes wonder about your wide options as well. Depth will always be one of the big things when you’re coming into CL spots from outside, that takes time to build.

Sol89: Central midfield. I'm not convinced that you can consistently compete against the very best with the current options at your disposal. And as a possession based side, that's quite a pressing concern.

Dan: They need to be back in the Champions League. I think they will hit a glass ceiling otherwise, and the better players will leave. They also need some decent wide players – I’m not impressed with either fullback (Johnson and Enrique) and there are no real quality wingers either.

Did Jordan Henderson’s gait confuse your defence last season? (Be afraid he’ll most likely play again)

Ben_AFC:  Haha, well that was a great goal by him, but that game our defence was riddled with mistakes - I think there were three monumental errors leading to your first goal including falling over and miss-hit clearances.

MagicHat: Yep, you could see the defences immediate reaction was to wonder at his gait. Hope he gets an England call up soon.

Sol89: I don't know about that but Liverpool threw away 3 points at the Emirates last season. Should have killed us off but you let us back into the game. In the end, you were lucky to escape with a point. You'll be a different animal this season for sure. It promises to be a fascinating contest.

Dan: The one-two he inadvertently played off Ramsey’s legs that took out 3 defenders and the ‘keeper was the stuff of nightmares for me. That look of glee mixed with total bewilderment on an attackers face as he rolls the ball into our empty net is one that Arsenal fans have had to endure more than once (Birmingham City, League Cup final). To be fair, Henderson is one of Rodgers’ success stories in my eyes; he’s been well coached by Brendan, and he’s doing a good job for Liverpool. Shock call-up to Roy’s WC squad?

Any predictions?
Ben_AFC: I think it could be 3-2 to either side really. I’m expecting goals certainly, and hopefully a lot more zip to our play, since we’ve been looking rather lethargic of late.

MagicHat: Either 1-1 or 2-1 to somebody. Hopefully Arsenal.

Sol89: An Arsenal victory of course :)

Dan: It’s a test for us, and I actually think we’re better away from home in big games. Hopefully we’ll play like we did against Napoli and win 2-1 or 3-2. I worry if Flamini is injured though, who else will shackle big Jordan Henderson?!

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