The way I see it - Arsenal v Inter Milan

Last updated : 17 September 2003 By Jason Hogan

A) The fact that we were lucky not to lose to a jumped up First Division club?

B) The fact that we were given a lesson in desire, commitment and honest endeavour by a jumped up First Division club

C) The fact that we had to resort to a piece of skulduggery to earn ourselves a point

D) All of the above

Personally, I would pick D myself because that accurately reflects the truth and nobody knew that more than Arsene Wenger. He wasn't offering up any excuses after the game for what happened because he knew that he would have been insulting his own intelligence to do so.

Speaking of insulting the intelligence, Robert Pires has come out today to deny that he cheated. Sorry mate, not even a staunch Gooner like me is going to buy that.

If anything, Pires has now added himself to the list of marked men at the Arsenal. Don't be too surprised if in the future a referee waves away a far more legitimate penalty claim for a foul on him and don't be surprised if it happens in a match with far more riding on it.

There's certainly a fair bit riding on our match against Inter on Wednesday and it's a sure fire bet that Inter Milan had a scout at Highbury on Saturday. I bet that the scout, whoever he was, walked out of Highbury rubbing his hands together - if he hadn't already laughed himself to death first, that is.

If you were to ask me to give you one word that sums up our opponents on Wednesday, it would be this - Pedigree. You only have to look at their coach, Hector Cuper.

This guy took Valencia to two champions league finals and last year, he took Inter to the semi-finals beating (ironically enough) none other than Valencia on the way. He also took a humble Real Mallorca side to the last Cup Winners Cup Final back in 1999.

They have one or two decent players as well. Christian Vieri has been ruled out with an ankle injury but, even in his absence, Inter are not short of attacking options.

The word on the street is that new signing, Julio Cruz, is going to take Vieri's place up front. I find this a little intriguing. Cruz is physically very similar to Vieri but on the evidence of what I have seen of him from his days at both Feyenoord and Bologna, that is just about where the similarity ends. For my money, he is not in the same league as Vieri and never will be.

However Inter do have Obufemi Martins, a young Nigerian striker and Mohammed Kallon, a man who was sought after by none other than Arsene Wenger a few years ago.

Martins is likely to be the man who partners Cruz up front. He burst on the scene at Inter last year and I understand that he has been Vieri's regular strike partner up until now. He is remarkably similar in style to Yakubu, the lad at Portsmouth. That, in itself, is food for thought taking recent events into account.

At the back, they have Fabio Cannovaro and the excellent full back Javier Zanetti, both of whom are highly experienced at the highest level both for club and their respective countries.

They are not short of options in wide areas either. Cuper can call on the likes of Khalou Fadiga, and Andy Van der Meyde who played, respectively, for Auxerre and Ajax against us last season.

He can also call on the likes of Sergio Concecaio and Kily Gonzalez. Interestingly enough, Gonzalez has apparently been running off at the mouth claiming that the rest of Europe laughs at Arsenal.

All I can say is that Gonzalez cannot be the sharpest knife in the draw. For a start, I don't remember Inter being seeded for the Champions League. I don't remember seeing them ranked fifth in Europe.

Indeed, if you are talking about Italian clubs in general, then I don't think that Lazio, Juventus or Roma had too much to laugh about after playing us in the last three seasons. Not bad for a team that are supposedly a standing joke around Europe.

Mind you, I'm grateful to Gonzalez in a way because from our point of view, I think that he has added some much needed edge to Wednesday night's game. After all, Gonzalez has only come out and said to an extent what quite a few in the press and the media are thinking.

As I have said before, I don't think that we are under as much pressure to do well in the Champions League as others would make out.

I honestly think that there are teams out there (including one or two that are very close to home) that have more to lose than we have.

Having said that if a job is worth doing, it's worth doing it right and if we are going to get out of this group then dropping points at home is simply not an option this year.

There are absolutely no grey areas where this match concerned we will only win if we play for keeps. Anything less and we can kiss three points goodbye right now. It's as simple as that. Gentlemen, it's over to you.