Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Arsenal in Turin

The big question of the day is not, of course, how silly are the BPI's figures but can Arsenal follow through on their masterclass in association football last Tuesday and play well enough in Turin tonight to progress through to their first ever Champions League semi-final.

There's no doubt they are capable but I hope they stick to their natural counter-attacking game rather than trying to defend deeply as they did in the cup final last year. I suspect Hleb or Pires will be deployed to follow Nedved, though neither is particularly practiced at the art. Eboue and Flamini will be asked to keep a reign on their natural attacking instincts, even though Juventus just couldn't cope with that threat last week. Trezeguet will not play as badly again as he did at Highbury and could cause us problems if Nedved does find space in the way that Berkamp can in the pocket behind the striker/s. Gilberto sitting in front of the back four could be the key to avoiding damage from that quarter. Juve won't be caught off guard by Fabregas again either, who will almost certainly find himself hounded by a black and white striped shadow for the duration of the evening.

Juventus, thoroughly emabarrassed at the way they were outgunned at Highbury, are desperate for revenge and Thuram is predicting a 3 or 4 nil victory for them. Henry and his young mates have a point to prove, however, and as long as they don't concede an early goal and put pressure on themselves, have the potential to find the back of the Juve net. Henry in particular, having had such a miserable time in his short spell at the Turin club before moving to Arsenal, will be keen to bag his 50th European goal, in his hundredth European match. Even better if he could claim number 51 as well.

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