By Avenell Dave
Despite a few boos when his name was read out on Saturday, Arsenal Addicts got behind Samir Nasri last weekend and he put in a performance that underlined his quality and value to the team.
But yesterday he became the latest first team star to leave the club and despite the money now burning a hole in the club's pocket, our midfield options are down to the very bare bones ahead of what is the biggest game for the club in our recent history.
We face a massive game against Udinese this evening and we go there with a one goal and a clean sheet to our advantage.
What we must not do is concede early, which may damage fragile hearts and inspire the home team to dominate us. Alternatively, nab the first goal ourselves and the tie may be over.
Without Laurent Koscielny, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs, we're short in areas where we are lacking back-up and if the first leg is anything to go by, we will certainly be put under pressure.
Everyone knows how big this game is. Lose and we miss out on a £25m windfall and far far more in terms of our status and reputation.
Will we be able to still attract the players capable of getting us back into the Champions League next season?
Will we be able to keep the players who are coming to the end of their contracts?
Against the competition of mega-money M*nure, Ch*vski, Citeh and now even Liverpool, it becomes an even greater challenge to remain in the top four.
As recently as Monday, many were saying that Samir Nasri should play and I could see why, but in my opinion I didn't think he would nor did I think Arsene Wenger would select him.
Righ or wrong, that's now a moot point. The French international clearly wanted to go to Citeh and unlike participating in the game with Liverpool, selection for tonight's game meant Nasri would miss out on a financial windfall at one of the best-paying clubs in the world if he was cup tied and its doubtful whether Citeh would have pushed ahead with his signing.
This isn’t case of being bullied by Roberto Mancini, it’s a case of being practical. Wenger should be able to buy one or two players with the money that will make us infinitely stronger if he is given the chance and that has to be the focus after tonight’s game, regardless of the result.
Despite our depleted squad, I think we have more than enough to beat Udinese – and the more they push forward, the more gaps they could leave behind them.
Given his domestic suspension, I expect Gervinho to start, probably in place of Theo Walcott but perhaps in place of Andrey Arshavin. Both of them were disappointing on Saturday and could warrant demotion.
What a time it would be for Gervinho to score his first official Arsenal goal.
We’re all tense already about getting into this position and worrying what the ramifications will be if our terrible form continues.
Whoever plays tonight, those travelling to northern Italy or watching around the world have to get behind the team.
There is no other way.
Sagna Vermaelen Djourou Traore
Song Frimpong Ramsey
Gervinho RvP Arshavin