Soccerlens Daily: Milan v Arsenal, Manchester United v Lyon, Slow Liverpool, Barcelona v Celtic, West Ham v Chelsea postmortem and more

Today’s roundup – a quick wrap of interesting links plus a look at today’s Champions League games:

Stuff You Should Read…

    1. Breaking the Arsenal Narrative – now I don’t always agree with MP (and he’s wrong about a few things this time too), but it is interesting to see a member of the media who doesn’t buy the ‘we play fair, we play beautiful, we always attack’ spiel coming out of the Emirates.


    1. Politics in Football – I still believe that football can bring peace, but maybe some ground rules need to be set instead of setting up a farce?


    1. West Ham v Chelsea postmortem – I saw the Makelele tackle, and the Lampard sending off, and what pisses me off is not that the standards are uneven but that there’s little if any post-event retractions. Eduardo gets a red-card because the ref saw a guy with a broken foot screaming. Makelele got away because the ref was troubled with a red card he’d given earlier. By reviewing these incidents post-game and by not giving a damn about public opinion, perhaps we can get better standards of refereeing?


    1. Can Fergie win the Champions League by 2012? Because that’s the only way you’re getting him out of Manchester United and onto managing the Olympic side.


    1. Can’t argue with Platini when he says this:

      “Twenty years ago, people said it was necessary to play sport to stay healthy. Today, it is to play for cash. Football is not just a product, it is the bearer of values, it has a social impact. We must return to the true values of sport. That is why I wanted to be president, in order to protect these values. I am not against money, far from it. I have earned a lot in my life. But I think that money should not command in sport.”


    1. Ryan Shawcross – of course he’s good.


    1. Have you seen the stats area at SquadGod? Cracking stuff.


    1. Tom Dunmore on Liverpool – they (Liverpool / Liverpool fans) seem to be a few steps behind United, just like the league…


    1. Ian on Game 39, etc etc.


    1. Quotes of the week – a certain Hugo Steckelmacher is in there too (no, he wasn’t quoted, he just submitted something).


    1. Alan Hansen on Arsenal – he loses the plot to romanticism in the end, but his point about top teams having to deal with tough-tackling opposition is quite well made.


07/08 Champions League 2nd Round, 2nd Leg Preview

Note: Inter play Liverpool next Wednesday – this Wednesday, Liverpool play West Ham at home in the Premier League.

AC Milan v Arsenal

First Leg: Arsenal 0-0 Milan (Emirates)

Arsenal are playing up on their league exploits and their bubbly confidence and the fact that the team ‘never defends but always attacks‘, while Milan are down in the dumps because their league position is horrible, their recent form even more so.

Let’s get a few things clear about this game:

Milan beating Manchester United 3-0 last season has nothing to do with it. Yes, United had a few injuries, just like Arsenal have now. But United lost as much because of a couple of crushing defensive mistakes as because of poor tactics on the part of Ferguson. I think Wenger will have watched that, seen how Gattuso marked Ronaldo out of the game completely, and devised a plan to counter that.

Recent league form will do little to influence the result – which is good for Arsenal considering that they’ve drawn the last two games.

Milan will be content to play on the counter, and so will Wenger, which would generally point to a slow-tempo start to the game – an early goal should change that though, so let’s hope either Fabregas or Kaka kick things off with a blinder.

Who will Gattuso mark this time? And with Senderos at center-back, can Kaka induce the same error as he did between Evra and Heinze last season?

Prediction: Sentiments (for or against Arsenal) aside, I think it’s an uphill task for the Gunners. Milan to win this one.

Barcelona v Celtic

First Leg: Celtic 2-3 Barcelona (Celtic Park)

Celtic are pretty much out of this one – they could score 2 at Camp Nou and still go out on away goals as long as Barcelona score once (and you’d pretty much expect them to do that, wouldn’t you?). Even Strachan’s given up hope (although publicly he’s talked of the match being ‘a tall order’ and privately he’ll be trying to motivate his players to perform the miracle of their lifetimes), and tonight’s game could give Barcelona a much-needed boost after their reverse on the weekend which saw them drop back again in the La Liga title race.

I could talk about Barcelona’s star players, about Celtic’s spirit, about Celtic’s away-day woes in Europe, about how intimidating Camp Nou can be, about how this game can spark a revival at Barcelona, but you already know all that…

Prediction: Barcelona to win, unless Barcelona are mysteriously affected by food poisoning.

Sevilla v Fenerbahce

One of two matches on Tuesday that you can’t call.

Fenerbahce won 3-2 at home but the 1-goal advantage will hardly be of any help in the second leg. If Fener sit back, they’ll be pummeled and if they go forward Sevilla will find it quite easy to hit them on the counter.

The one thing going for Fener is the way they’ve played under Zico this season and the fact that if given the time and space, Fener could easily be winning (or at least holding their own) by halftime in the second leg. Unlike at the San Siro (where Arsenal will need more than luck to get through), Fener, thanks to that goal advantage, need just one goal and some luck to see them through to the quarter-finals.

Predicition: Close, but Sevilla should get through.

Manchester United v Lyon

First Leg: Lyon 1-1 Manchester United (Stade Gerland)

Benzema’s goal (the audacity and quality of it) in the first leg will be a haunting memory for United fans looking forward to watching their club progress to the last eight.

And while it’s fashionable to talk about Roma and the 7-1 spanking, it might be more appropriate to talk about the 3-2 win against Milan, a more likely outcome considering that a) Benzema can score and b) United are irresistable at home. Our home record (9 wins on the trot) is nowhere near impressive – the only way it could be considered impressive is if Manchester United beat Lyon and then go on to make it 11 wins in a row. That’s impressive – an ‘almost-record’ is just crap.

Anyway, back to Lyon. They’re defensively solid but in the first leg it was more a case of United not playing up to their regular standards, so expect the likes of Ronaldo and Rooney (The United Superheroes) to raise their game a notch or two and poke holes in the Lyon defense.

United are another story – playing at home you’ll always expect them to play aggressive and score, so I’m not expecting anything less than 2 goals from the team.

Tevez might be scoring goals, Giggs, Scholes and Hargo may have the experience but it is Rooney, Ronaldo and Rio who are the heartbeat of the team and these 3 need to be at the top of their game for the rest of the season.

Prediction: Manchester United to win.

Your Predictions

AC Milan v Arsenal
Barcelona v Celtic
Sevilla v Fenerbahce
Manchester United v Lyon

Your predictions for the Champions League fixtures? Discuss away in the comments below.

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