By Myles Palmer
A fantastic night of live football – if you have ITV 2 and can get home by 5pm.
The Spartak Moscow v Arsenal programme starts on ITV2 at 4.30 pm and kicks off at 5 pm, which is 8 pm Moscow time.
Leeds v Real Madrid is a 7.45 kick-off on ITV.
Can Arsenal still qualify if they lose tonight? Yes, but it will be nerve-wracking.
The good news is that Nelson Vivas will play the anchor role.
The team is expected to be : Manninger / Luzhny, Keown, Adams,Silvinho/ Ljungberg, Parlour, Vivas, Pires/ Kanu, Henry.
Vivas is very experienced, very skilful and good in the air for his size. He is a better bet for an anchor role than Ljungberg.
Freddie Ljungberg is a skirmisher, not a strategic player. His game is notabout holding his position. It is about being OUT of position, joining in moves, starting moves in unexpected ways.
He ambushes defenders, scraps for every ball, wins balls he should not win, and gets into the box
In theory Kanu can hold the ball up and create more than Wiltord, so Wenger may use the energetic Wiltord from the bench if they go 1-0 down.
On the other hand Arsene Wenger could start Wiltord and Henry and play some longer balls, hoping to use their pace and score first.
If it is not going well, and Arsenal are under siege, he could bring Kanu on to improve possession
But if keeper Alex Manninger is as jumpy as everyone says he is, Arsenal might struggle in defence, even with Tony Adams back.And Keown has not played a decent game since Peter Taylor dropped him from the England squad.
Talking about Manninger in the 2-0 defeat at Everton last Saturday,Arsene Wenger said, “He did look nervous. He is a young goalkeeper with a huge responsibility. This is a difficult game. We want to win it.We have come here to attack and dominate, if we can. If we let them play their passing game, if we try and defend or do not work hard, we will be dead.”
Spartak will include recently naturalised Cameroon right back Jerry-Christian Tchuisse.
Their team, in 3-5-2 formation, is likely to be: Filimonov; Tchuisse,Ananko, Bushmanov; Kovtun, Kalinichenko, Titov, Baranov, Bezrodny;Marcao, Robson.
This ITV double header should tell us a lot about which clubs might make the semi-finals.
Leeds obviously reckon their youngsters can be in the Champions League most seasons, so they want Rio Ferdinand for £18 million.
Chairman Peter Ridsdale obviously believes that you have to speculate to accumulate.
Real Madrid are far better than Barcelona right now.
Roberto Carlos,an intimidating gladiator whose final ball often let him down, is playing better than ever.Thunderthighs has been awesome recently.
Raul, the mini-matador, can sniff goals out of nothing. Savio plays with ballerina accuracy. Hierro, the Tony Adams of Spain, is back in harness.
Guti is the hottest midfield finisher in world football right now : headers,long shots with that vicious left foot.A bantamweight Bryan Robson who gets onto the end of crosses.No player apart from Crespo has improved so much in the last two years.
Figo will need all his wondrous skill and balance tonight as the tackles fly in. A serious test for the man I call Stanley Matthews with muscles.
Both Premiership clubs could lose, which would make Alex Ferguson look a fool. Fergie stupidly suggested that it could be an all-English final in Milan next May.
22nd November 2000.