Tonight: improvement required

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Hot on the heels of our impressive 3-0 weekend romp comes tonight’s potential humdinger. Local bragging rights (long since ours) and the chance for a trip to Wembley are at stake.

Suffice to say our hosts are desperate to do us over, and both of the Totts fans I have spoken to in the last 24 hours are convinced that the odds are stacked in their favour to finally break the eight-year hoodoo.

Assuming Wenger sticks to his guns and plays the usual Milk Cup team, then I think we have a real job on our hands. We will certainly get booted out if we play anything like as poorly in the first leg, when by hook or by crook (or by a ricochet off a stomach) we limped home 1-1.

By necessity the callow defence we saw in the first leg will be strengthened with the addition of Gallas; (“I will use him because I have no choice”, said Wenger). Gilberto will drop back too, as we simply have nobody else, with Toure away and both of our Swisses on the treatment table.

And by design, the bench will have more options than it did two weeks ago, when we had nothing that could turn the tide in our favour. That’s very sensible if you ask me – and gives more balance to turn things in our favour. Don’t forget, we need to score or we go out.

And finally, a word about the chaos off the field at Liverpool: new owners might seem like saviours and moneybags when they come in, but things are not always what they seem. The general stability of things in the boardroom at Arsenal has been crucial over the years, and seeing the mess at other clubs merely served to remind me of the near-miss we had with our own wannabe new owner, the ex-Soviet non-Arsenal supporting oligarch. Two words – no thanks.

Come on your rip-roarers.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.