December 21, 2007 | WNST Interns

           Boy was the crystal ball way off. Rest assured, I have given that ineffective orb the old heave-ho and I’ll stick to official reports and shutting my mouth. Only one of those statements is true.
            You could’ve knocked me over with a feather when I saw the starting line ups. Not that it was bad… well, yes it was. I never imagined that Rafa would’ve rolled out this lot, especially considering that this competition might have been his strongest bid for silverware this season. With this display of casual disdain for the quarter final leg of a cup tie, it is obvious that he must really be placing more emphasis on the league than any of its cup fixtures. Either that, or Wenger’s youth team victory caused him to develop a temporary case of the stupids.
             Looks like we’re back off up the beanstalk to slay another Italian giant in the quest for our sixth silver egg. And if Rick Parry’s not worried about Inter, then neither should we. Rafa should consider buying a house in Milan. He’s there often enough.
              We could’ve pulled a Man U (Lyon) or a Chelsea (Olympiacos) and won our groups handily to give us easier match ups, but where’s the excitement in that? Liverpool has a certain obligation in European competition to put their fans through sleepless nights and nails chewed down to the knuckle only for them to pull it back from the brink of impending doom right at the end. It’s what we’ve come to expect. Being the underdog in the Champions League is all becoming a bit ho-hum really.
               Arsenal drew the old enemy in AC Milan. I’d like to see them thump them just on general principles, but like Liverpool, AC have been fantastic in Europe, even if they have found to be lacking on the home front. That should be a goody.
               Tomorrow is Pompey. I hate those bastards. How is it that David James is awful with a Liverpool jersey on and every time he plays us, he has a blinder? He’s got to be well past retirement age, doesn’t he? 
                Statistically, we’ve done well against Portsmouth at home not having lost in the last nine fixtures (won 4 and drawn 5) but I don’t place much stock in numbers. And being 10 points adrift, a draw is like a loss at this point in the season.
                We are tied at 30 points a piece with Portsmouth and they have been fantastic this season with a very "who’s that?" lineup and a cheating bugger of a manager in Harry Redknapp. Not that any Premiership game is a given, but this is a game we must win against a squad I’d go so far as to say qualifies for "bogey team" status.
                 Arsenal’s up against a much-toughened Spurs and Man U are hosting Everton. In my fantasy world, Everton punish the Mancs at Old Trafford for the first time since 1992 and Spurs out-London the top team in London. Not gonna happen though – unless Wenger’s first, second and youth team come down with the flu. Even then I’d still back the Gunners. Same goes for SAF’s lot. Except it would have to be a bad case of the Black Death, in which case Man U would only win by two.
                 Villa’s playing City, and unlike stodgy top of the league meetings, fixtures like this tend to be free-flowing affairs with lots of chances and good midfield match ups. There’s only five points separating them and both teams are playing with their tails up.
                 But if you’re looking for some real action, look down, not up. The good stuff is happening at the bottom of the log with Sunderland facing Reading, Bolton against Birmingham and Wigan versus Fulham. With very little separating these teams, it’s promises to be an all out war as they scramble to nab much needed points from one another with relegation looming large on the domestic horizon.
                 A happy holidays to all soccer fans everywhere. Be it Manchester or London, Madrid or Milan, goodwill and prosperity to all you and yours. And to the poor bugger on the roof at Canton Station – stay warm my friend, stay warm in what must be the winter of your discontent.