Champions’ League Draw: Arsenal get Real Madrid

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
December 16th, 2005 • 11:29 am

This is a terrific draw for the Gunners. There is a very real risk of being eliminated prematurely again, of course, but at least there will be some excitement about the whole thing, which is what the Champions’ League is supposed to be all about.

The Gunners are going through a rough patch in the English Premier League right now, with two consecutive defeats and a huge point gap between them and the leaders. But they have been undone by tough, ugly teams like Bolton and Shearer’s Newcastle. Real Madrid is not that type of team at all. They have been in turmoil themselves in the past couple of years, and are far from invincible. We could have a couple of terrific games, and hopefully both of them will be broadcast here in Canada.

Chelsea get Barcelona again, and with Essien suspended for the two games, there might be some midfield weakness that Barcelona can exploit. It will be a “clash of civilizations” again, and hopefully Barcelona will win with fluid, attacking football and a flurry of goals.

But this is still two months away… In the mean time, there is a certain game at Highbury on Sunday. I don’t suppose that the Gunners are interested in doing Alex Ferguson any favours, but this tie is not about Manchester United. It’s about restoring some level of pride, if not hope. Chelsea is a strong team, but winning 1-0 at home against Wigan is not the most convincing way to assert your supremacy. And their 1-0 win against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge with Drogba’s lucky break against Senderos early in the season left a bitter aftertaste.

I feel that the key issue is whether the Gunners can properly defend on set pieces. They have been unconvincing again so far this season in that department. I just hope we don’t let John Terry barge in and get a free header yet again.

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