Preview: Arsenal v. Celtic (h)
After making the home leg of the tie almost a formality, Arsenal entertains Scottish opponents, Celtic FC, tomorrow to officially book a spot in Friday's Champions League group stage draw.
In the aftermath of the Gunner's 2-0 away win in Glasgow, the media decided to focus on everything except Arsenal's impressive performance, just like they did after the demolition of Everton. Sure, the ball going off of Gallas' rump was a tad lucky, but the second goal was all down to Arsenal. If Caldwell didn't put it into his net, Bendtner would have happily done it for him. Song, Denilson, and Cesc bossed the midfield from the start and silenced the Parkhead faithful. A similar performance in the midfield will guarantee Arsenal progressing into the money stages of the competition.
Wenger is stressing to his squad that there is still a job to be done. He had this to say: "My priority is still to get into the Champions League first and once we are in it, to try to win,' he said. 'We live in a pragmatic world so let`s first get in it.
"It`s not job done, it`s job to do. That`s how I approach it. There`s a job to do and to finish. We have done a big part of it but the most important [thing] is to get over the line and that`s what we want to achieve tomorrow."
Arsene surely has plans to rotate his squad, but he doesn't want to disrespect Celtic by publicly announcing it. "I rest players who I feel need a rest without considering the game after." Wenger declared. 'My target is to win tomorrow`s game, it`s a massive game for us and after that we will see what we do for the weekend.'
I will not rotate as a result of the Man United game [I would only rotate] because when a player is very tired and you have a player who is very fresh you play the player who is very fresh because he will be better. But some players who have played many, many games if I feel they need a rest I`ll do it."
Arsenal Team News:
The only new injury is to Fabregas, but he would have been expected to sit out this one anyways. Whether or not he will be back for United on Saturday remains to be seen. If he does play at Old Trafford, he will most likely play for Spain the following week. So is it worth it, or should we give Cesc a three week rest? It's an interesting conundrum for the Professor to mull over.
Djourou, Rosicky, Nasri, Walcott, and Fabianski are all out, but Rosicky will be in the squad against United if needed.
I don't know what starting lineup to expect. The players rested on Saturday will most likely come pack into the fold, but who Arsene feels needs more rest is a mystery that only his detailed stats knows the answer to.
Player to watch: Robin van Persie
van Persie didn't have a good game in Glasgow. Something was off. He was lacking his usual confidence, and his shots lacked conviction. On Saturday, he played much better but still didn't manage to bulge the back of the net. He was visibly frustrated throughout the latter portions of the second half, but it was very encouraging to see him trying so hard to get that goal even though we were three goals up. I expect him to grab one today if Arsene decides to play him, which might not happen.
Celtic Team News:
Celtic midfielder Landry N'Guemo is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, while Stephen McManus, Barry Robson, and Mark Wilson are also out due to injury.
Player to watch: Aiden McGeady
I hadn't seen much of McGeady before last weeks match, but he impressed me with his performance in the midfield. He is extremely quick and has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. Hopefully, for Celtic fans, the club doesn't have to let him go if they get knocked out tomorrow.
Match Facts & Stats
I see no evidence to support Celtic being able to slow our attack down, but leave it up to Arsenal to make it harder than it needs to be. I'm going to be pissed if I don't have any fingernails left tomorrow night. I'll go with 3-0 win for the boys in red in white.
Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez, from Spain, will be the head official for this tie. He was also the official for our penalty shootout win in Rome last season, so I hope he brings along the good fortune again.
29/8 (Sat) - Man United (a) - Premier League
12/9 (Sat) - Man City (a) - Premier League
15 or 16/9 - UEFA Match Day 1 - Champions League
The match will be broadcasted on ITV in England and on FSC in the States.