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Life, the Universe, the champions league…
By Walter Broeckx
In life we should learn things and yesterday was a night where we could learn a lot.
Let me start by something that is really easy to say when you know what happened but I hope that some things will be remembered and we don’t do the same thing again.
When you play a team like Barcelona you need 11 players that are fully fit. Before last weekend Gallas was nowhere to the first team and after 3 days in training he came in to start the game.
He had to stop after 40 minutes and who knows how long he had his injury back befor ? Wenger admitted it was a gamble and that it had failed. So next time I would suggest not to gamble anymore and just go for the fitter player.
What we do not know is if Campbell would have been fit 100 % after the weekend game. So I can understand that Wenger went for Gallas but now we know it would have been better to start without him and give him rest until Saturday and than he could have been fit and stay fit.
Arshavin was not in the starting line up on Saturday because he had a little injury and he clearly was not fully fit at the start of the game. But once again I can understand Wenger that he wanted to play one of the most experienced players we have in such a game.
I think a fully fit Arshavin could have made an impact in the second half when Barca got tired and then he could have done the some damage with his runs. Unfortunately, by then he was out and replaced by Eboue.
Cesc was not fit. But he was desperate to play he made himself fit. He did all he could to get on the pitch but in fact, he never came in to the game. He was invisible for most of the game and one could see that he was not ready for a game like that. His leg let him down even before the penalty kick. But what he did do was try his best but if you are running on one leg against Barcelona you can not bring what you could do.
Those 3 players are players that we knew would be a risk, for those who have paid attention the last days that is, and it could be seen on the pitch. Also Diaby was named as doubtful after the Birmingham game and he also had not his best day on the pitch. Is this a coincidence ? I think not.
When you play the best team you want your best players to play and you take a gamble but a gamble can work out but it can turn against you.
Last night it did turn against us. You need 11 players who can give 100 % and if you have 3 or 4 players that can only give 50 % than this is a big loss when you play Barcelona.
But the good thing is that the players who came on the pitch and who were fully fit showed that they could change the game. Eboue was one of our best players, Denilson was great in the second half and Walcott was showing what he can do on his day.
Those players were 100 % fit and from the moment they were all on the field we had some 9 players giving 100% and suddenly the game changed. We still had two players not fully fit, Cesc and Diaby, but suddenly we were in the game.
So the lesson could be that if you have to make a choice between a nut fully fit “best” player and a fully fit “team” player, in those games it could be better to take the fully fit player. He will be able to run the whole 90 minutes and put pressure on the opponents.
If I would have been Wenger I would have taken the same starting 11 he did, but now I would do it different. I would chose the fit ones.
Many fans think it is over and lost. Next week no Cesc, no Arshavin, no Gallas. I just say so what ?
We can hope that the players who should fill the gap will be 100% fit. Let Nasri take over from Cesc, he can do it. Let Eboue take over from any one on the pitch and he will do the job. Let us just pick 100% fit players next week and then we will see if Barcelona can run around like they did yesterday in the first hour. And if they can… then we can only take off our hat and take a bow for the currently best team in the world.
And if we manage to do some magic with a fully fit team, it will be clear from now on that you have not only to pick the best team but also the fittest team. We came back from a lost position and after all the set backs with injured and not fit players we managed to get a lifeline for next week.
Just go for it Gunners, just remember the last 20 minutes of this game when we took over and if Cesc wouldn’t have broken his leg I think we still could have won the game against all odds but it could have happened.
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