Arsenal vs Udinese: Preview and Starting Eleven

August 16, 2011

With everything happening to Arsenal in the last four days, the only thing left was a Champions League play off! We are going to face Udinese, tonight, in the first leg of the qualifier with a much depleted squad.

Udinese are a decent side and they will offer us more than what Newcastle did on the weekend. These fixtures before haven’t caused us much trouble before. Therefore, failing to overcome Udinese over two legs is not only going to be disastrous, we will also have a hard time in attracting players to the club this season.

Just like us, Udinese have also lost their best players. However, they still have a team that will give us a hard time. With Di Natale, they have a striker that can cause us all sorts of trouble if we are not on top of our game. They will test us on a more continuous basis than what Newcastle did and they will surely look for an away goal. Being Italians, they will also have a sound defence and give us very little space. This also will prove advantageous for us if we utilize our pace effectively. Therefore, quick and accurate passing will do the trick and open them up.

Still, I am expeceting a tight game so our first priority must be to not concede a goal and then find the winner.

With Van Persie and Nasri suspended and Wilshere out injured, we are without three key figures. Rosicky, it is now confirmed, didn’t pass his late fitness test and suddenly we have very limited options to start with.

We were short of ideas going forward against Newcastle, now with no Van Persie and Rosicky; I am hoping that the others will rise to the occasion and make their mark.

I am caught between Chamakh and Bendtner to take the striker role. Chamakh didn’t have a very good pre-season while Bendtner was busy trying to move out. Still, with the future of Bendtner not clear, I will start with Chamakh and hope he shows he is a striker. Bendtner can come on later, if required.

To partner him, I will go with Arshavin and Gervinho.

In the middle I will start with Song and Frimpong behind Ramsey. Song has the ability to produce great passes, so I will want him to play a bit up field. Frimpong should stay behind tonight and shield the back four. Ramsey will have to take more responsibility and make sure he doesn’t give the ball away in dangerous positions.

The backline will pick itself up. Sagna and Gibbs on the flanks, Vermaelen and Koscielny to partner as centre backs. Szczesny will of course be in goal.

We can then bring on Walcott and Chamberlain for their pace. I am also hoping that Arshavin will take over as the creative outlet for us today. He can carve open defenses easily and tonight his skill will be more than needed.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs, Song, Ramsey, Frimpong, Gervinho, Chamakh, Arshavin.

Udinese’s Manager, Francesco Guidolin, admitted that this is the most important game in their history. So,we won’t have it easy any minute of the game, over the two legs.  If we want to qualify for the group stages, every player will have to perform. His words were:

“Udinese also has a tradition of playing in Europe before, but for the charm of the match and for the opponent then this is probably the most important game in Udinese’s history. I would probably compare it to the match against Ajax in the UEFA Cup some years ago but because it is the Champions League this is probably more important.”

As Wenger said:

“We want to be in the Champions League, we want to qualify, that’s what we want to achieve.”

And that is what we would all like. Despite being short in number, I am confident the team will give a great response. It is our first home game of the season, by the way, so a win will be a an ideal result.

Have a good day and enjoy game. Hopefully in a fortnight, we will be in the group stages of the Champions League.

 


Arsene wants Nasri to stay as Chelsea shows interest in him!

August 16, 2011

With Fabregas gone, many believe, it is only a matter of time before Nasri also moves out. With continuously being linked away from Arsenal for the past eight months, the Frenchman hasn’t helped the cause as his intentions are still not clear. However, he, not signing the contract is indication enough of not wanting to commit his future with Arsenal. At the moment, it seems that he may be on his way to Manchester City.

Arsene Wenger, on the contrary, is reluctant to sell him. When asked about his future, the manager admitted that he wants him to stay and added he will do his best to sort the situation.

“Ideally I want Samir Nasri to stay, but as much as we were in a strong position on the contract side with Cesc, the situation is a bit different. Hopefully we can sort the situation out.”

I can’t help it, but I have made my mind that Nasri will leave us. If we couldn’t persuade him to sign the contract in the last eight months, how can the remaining 14 days of the window change that? Still, I don’t mind trying and I won’t mind to be proved wrong. Bribing him with the central role might change his mind!? or quality new signings!?

Meanwhile, Chelsea’s coach, Andre Villas- Boas, after their opening game on Sunday, expressed his interest in Nasri. Chelsea are in the market for a midfielder and Villas nonchalantly admitted that Nasri is an exciting player.

These were his words, when he was asked about Luca Modric of Tottenham:

“I just explained to you the sense of urgency in midfield. But it doesn’t mean that it’s Luka. Not that I’m interested, but you have Samir Nasri terminating contract. He’s one of the most exciting players in the Premier League and that’s the reality, as well as Luka, as well as other players.”

With Chelsea showing interest and Nasri not wanting to commit, the best option for us will be to sell him to the highest bidder, that is, if Nasri hasn’t agreed terms with City already. A bidding war between Chelsea and Man City is sure to increase  his value and that will help us to acquire a better replacement in return!

What do you all think? Should we keep him or bring this chapter to an end too?

 


Team news ahead of Udinese, Bendtner might be involved today | Arsenal, Newcastle and Alex Song charged by FA

August 16, 2011

Arsenal today will play the crucial first leg of Champions League play-off against Udinese.

Arsene Wenger on Monday gave an update on the squad in his pre-match press conference. He revealed that Rosicky faces a late fitness test ahead of the game despite being included in the squad. Apart from that we are going to be without Van Persie and Nasri through suspension.

Arsene said:

“We have an uncertainty from Saturday about Rosicky. He is in the squad and will have a fitness test on Tuesday morning. Of course we have Van Persie and Nasri suspended.”

Wenger himself is going to carry out one-match touchline ban.

On respecting the ban, Wenger said:

“I can be in the hotel with the team. I just cannot be in the dressing room pre-match so I watch the game from the stands like everybody else. I do not want to cheat with the rules but I can watch the game.”

In interesting bit of update, we might see Bendtner in action today after Arsene confirmed that he is still an Arsenal player. No club has until now acquired his services and the manager added that if things remains the same, he will stay at Arsenal and fight for his place.

These were Wenger’s words:

“In his interview Bendtner said he was gone, but I checked and he’s not gone at all! I promised I would let him go if he found the right club and that has not changed because when I make a promise I keep it. But if he doesn’t find the right opportunity he will stay and fight for his place like everybody else. He looks sharp in training.”

In other news, FA has pressed charges against both Arsenal and Newcastle in the aftermath of the game on weekend. The incident, during the game, involved mass confrontation between players from both sides that ended in Gervinho’s dismissal.

Also during the game, Alex Song acted out of order when he stamped on Joey Barton. He is separately charged for violent conduct. Both the clubs have to respond by 18th while Song has until 16th.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have also lodged a claim, following Gervinho’s straight red card.

following is the statement that was released by FA:

“Newcastle United and Arsenal have been charged by The FA with failing to control their players following Saturday’s (13 August) fixture at St James’ Park.

Both clubs have been charged following a mass confrontation of players following an incident in which Arsenal’s Gervinho was also shown a red card in the 75th minute.

Following Gervinho’s dismissal Arsenal have today lodged a claim that the standard punishment of a three-match suspension is clearly excessive. A regulatory Commission will hear that claim on 16 August.

Meanwhile Arsenal’s Alex Song has been charged separately by The FA with violent conduct following an incident earlier in the same fixture.

Both clubs have until 4pm on 18 August to respond to the charge, whilst Song must reply by 6pm on 16 August.”

As things stand, we are going to face Liverpool, Manchester United and Swansea without Gervinho and Alex Song.