14 March 2013

Apparently, the pressure is on us now

The day's headlines are all atwitter with suggestions from Swansea's Michael Laudrup that we're under pressure to win on Saturday. In other news, water is wet. Yes, there is pressure on us to win. Why this is remarkable doesn't seem to register with me. Reading his comments, it doesn't sound like he's trying to stir the pot or anything. Someone asked him a question, he answered, and that's about it. With little else to comment on at the moment, this story seems to have taken on a life of its own, and, like a game of "telephone", it's now being reported as if Laudrup is responsible for creating and applying pressure on us. I'm sure that a few members of the Arsenal squad realize that beating Bayern should have some carry-over effect on our Saturday match, but little bearing on our standings in the Prem. Whatever. Let these be the last words I spill on the subject of Michael Laudrup.

In more important news, not that it's a surprise, we'll go into Saturday without Sagna or Podolski, and perhaps without Gibbs. Monreal is available, of course, and with him, Koscielny, Jenkinson, and Mertesacker, I like our chances. Does Monreal possess any special insights into how to stop Michu, his fellow Spaniard?  It's possible. It's not as if Michu's been on any kind of roll--three goals in his last ten games (two against QPR, one against some outfit called "Bradford"). Keep an eye on him, of course, but if the backline can perform at a level that resembles Wednesday, we should be fine.

It's worth noting that, last year this point, we narrowly missed out on defeating AC Milan after an embarrassing first leg. At the time, we were seven points behind Spurs. By the end of the season, we had overtaken them and landed in third, one point ahead of Spurs. In other words, success in the UCL does have the power to propel a team to achieve some impressive things. There's not a direct correlation, of course, but the confidence that we drew from our 3-0 win ove AC Milan, and the confidence that we should draw from the even-more impressive 2-0 win over Bayern (tougher team, on the road, etc.) could give us the edge we need, whether it's Swansea on Saturday or anyone else we face. We know we can play with and beat the best, and that's a feeling that's been lacking recently.

In news further afield, Inter mauled Spurs in their Europa match, 4-1, but Spurs advance on away-goals. It looks like Spurs tried to sit on their away-goals and it almost backfired--Bale and Lloris didn't play at all, Lennon came on late in the second half, and Defoe came off early in the second. Good on ya, Spurs. May you progress far, far into the Europa League. I'm being sincere. Honestly. Detect not a trace of sarcasm in my voice. Chelsea is currently tied with Steaua, and they'll need to put at least two more in to advance after losing 1-0 away. We're all pulling for them, I'm sure.

 Right, then. That's about it for now. I'm still a bit sluggish from over-hydrating last night. 'Til next time...