The way I see it- Arsenal v Juventus

Last updated : 28 March 2006 By Jason Hogan

You see, there are times when it pays to have extra time between games and there are times when it doesn't. For example Bolton turned up at the Riverside yesterday for their first game in eight days to play a Boro side that had played down at the Valley in the cup just three days earlier on the previous Thursday.

Fat Sam was in pretty bullish mood before the game and he believed that his side would benefit from the extra resting time and that they would be "flying" by the time the game started. In fairness to Allardyce he was partly right as his team did start quickly take the lead after three minutes – but then Boro took advantage of Bolton's lethargy to stage a fight back and race into a 3-1 lead. Bolton did come back to make it three-all but Boro grabbed a winner right at the death to deservedly, in my opinion, gain all three points.

It just goes to show that a perceived advantage doesn't always bring you due rewards and the fact that has subsequently Sol Campbell picked up a knock in training ruling him out of tonight's game only serves to endorse that theory. Speaking of tonight, it's time to look at the game against Juventus in a little more detail.

I was watching Gillette Soccer Saturday the day after the quarter-final draw was made and Charlie Nicholas was asked how he felt about Arsenal being paired with Juventus. His immediate reply was that he was quietly confident. That was exactly how I felt at the time and to this very day I still do.

I know statistics can often be manipulated and they do not always tell you the whole story of things but the fact is that our record against Italian teams has been pretty good over the years. More than that, we have only lost once in four competitive matches with Juventus. So for the life of me I don't see why we should be going into this game riddled with fear.

Of course, that is not to say that this tie will be a walk over. Mentally, you would have to be one step away from a padded cell to even suggest that. But in all honesty, we are not facing anything that we haven't come up against before.

Arsene has crossed swords with current Juve coach Fabio Capello before, hasn't he? Capello was in charge of Roma when we met them a couple of years ago in the Champions League group stages. We beat what was a very good Roma side 3-1 in Rome and we drew 1-1 with them in the return game at Highbury.

In Capello's team that night at Highbury was another pretty familiar face - a chap called Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Now this lad is someone who really intrigues me. Most Gooners know the story about him turning down the offer of a trial with us some years ago "because he simply didn't do trials" and it's fair to say that his career has been a fairly colourful one ever since.

Zlatan, as he apparently prefers to be known, can be a highly temperamental, egotistical so and so who can frustrate the life out of people but on his day this boy can really, really play. Taking his height (six feet five approximately) aside, he reminds me an awful lot of a modern day Rodney Marsh as a player. He is not lightning quick by any means but he has great mobility, can work the channels and with an outrageous amount of skill for a big man, he can score goals out of absolutely nothing too.

In the absence of Del Piero and the suspended Nedved, Zlatan is likely to join David Trezeguet up front. I have to say this boy is, pound for pound, the laziest striker I think I have ever seen. All he does, quite literally, is goal hang. I have watched him play for Juventus in particular on dozens of occasion and he rarely gets involved in any of the build up play, he never works out wide, he never comes short for the ball and tries to spin in behind defenders.

So you would think that he would be easy to mark, right? Wrong. If ever there was a guy that fitted the description of a penalty box player perfectly it would be Trezeguet because as soon as the ball is anywhere within the vicinity of the penalty area he literally becomes two yards quicker in thought than anyone else which is why there are so many Serie A defenders with mental scars that are beyond repair.

Those two will carry the major threat for the Italians on the night and it's a threat that we would be foolish to even think about taking lightly but I don't think they can afford to take us lightly either.

It's a pity that Ljungberg will be missing. He would give us a lot of energy and pace in the midfield area and along with Reyes he is the best at tracking back in wide positions when necessary. So it remains to be seen who will come into midfield and whether we will operate with four in there or five.

The one thing I do know is that Arsene was right when he said that this game is not just about Vieira and Fabregas, the master and the pupil if you like. This game will be about a collective effort from both sides but from us in particular.

In the ideal world I would love us to be going to Turin with a lead but what I want more than anything is to see us keep a clean sheet if at all possible. I remember when we played them in Turin back in 2002.

We played in a virtually empty Stadio Delle Alpi and lost 1-0 but we made enough chances to win the game that night and I think that if we go over there with the aggregate score at say 1-0 or even 0-0, something in the back of my mind keeps telling that we can score a goal or two over in Turin if we really have to.

Is it wishful thinking on my part? Needless to say, only time will tell as to whether my dream scenario will come true or not.