Your partner of nine years, your soulmate, has left you and run off to Italy with another woman. She is an older lady, THE old lady, and you can't help but notice the size of her bank balance and the quality of the contents of her jewellery box. She has a certain class, a glittering reputation, and deep inside, you know that you're a little intimidated by her. And now your old love has returned to London, with new flame in tow and you have no option but to meet. A month or so ago you wouldn't have been able to face this encounter, quite frankly, you were all over the place, but you've pulled yourself together and you've regained that style and composure for which you became so renowned. You're feeling good about yourself again and whatsmore, you have a new man in your life now, a younger man, a Spaniard. And you think that he's pretty special. So now you wait to meet your departed love and you cannot stop yourself wondering if when you see him, he'll seem reduced in front of you, revealed as just another man, or perhaps, the other dreadful alternative, that'll he end up breaking your heart all over again.
Patrick is back, and he's dominating Arsenal's thoughts. Tonight the North Londoners want to consign him to history, turn him into just another ex-player, rather than let him be the ghost who comes back to haunt them. It is unlikely however, that there will be any resolution at Highbury tonight, for this tie is played over two games, not one, and like Liam Brady , we think that it shall be a very close contest.
We feared for Arsenal when we saw this draw, for Juventus are the stuff of Islington's nightmares, built by Capello to pressure, to stifle, to block and then to steal a chance through Trezeguet, their 'renard dans la boîte'. You can be sure that Don Fabio will have seen the trouble caused to Arsenal by the likes of Bolton Wanderers and he will be instructing his destroyers, Viera, Emerson, Thuram and Cannavaro, to be ruthless in their denial of space.
We should take heart, though, that Juventus have only ever had two away wins against English opponents in fifteen attempts and long-term Gunners aficionados will lick their lips at the UEFA statistic that shows Zlatan Ibrahimovic to be the player caught offside the most times (23) in this season’s Champions League with striking partner David Trezeguet second (14) and Del Piero third (13). Arsenal’s Reyes has been fouled more than any other player (33) and if Theo Walcott should come on from the bench and find the net he’d become the youngest scorer in Champions League history.
We should remember also, that Viera's successor as Arsenal captain, Thierry Henry, is facing the club that allowed Arsène Wenger to take an apparently failed winger off their hands, and will be keen to show Juventus just what he has become. After the Bernabeu, anything is possible, but Arsenal must excel and hope for the rub of the green if they are to win through.
Elsewhere in the capital this week Queen’s Park Rangers will hope to replicate December’s away result against Stoke City while avoiding any repetition of the scenes that saw goalkeeper Simon Royce being wrestled away from Stoke fans running onto the pitch immediately after the Loftus Road club’s 2-1 victory. The mood on Wednesday evening should be mellowed by the fact that both sides are in mid-table more than ten points away from either relegation fears or playoff hopes which will hopefully allow both sides to concentrate on providing an entertaining game with one eye on building for next season.
Across London, Barking and East Ham United’s Mayesbrook Park ground (Tel: 020 8595 6511) will host the final of the London FA’s Veterans Cup, for players over 35, being contested this year by Sporting Santos and Fisher Athletic. Kick off will be at 7:30 on Wednesday night.
Additional reporting by Duncan Young