So tomorrow sees our first "proper" game of the season and we take on FC Twente of Holland, managed by England's very own Steve McClaren. The Twente side is a decent side with some good players, but we really should be able to beat this side over two legs.
Steve McClaren has said it's fate that he drew an English team. I say it's irony! With Engelaar, their best player, transferred to Schalke, I can see no real strength in this team, with McBrolly's only signing that of Chelsea teenager Slobodan Rajkovic. The former England boss has been diplomatic about his chances against a hungry Arsenal side:
“I think of all the teams we could have had, that is the toughest – or one of the toughest. Obviously we looked at Arsenal, Liverpool, Juventus, Schalke and we got one of the most difficult. In one respect it’s a tough draw for us; on the other it’s now an opponent we know very well, not just myself, everyone in Holland knows the Premier League well so Arsenal will be no strangers to us. This is a reward for a great achievement last season in reaching this stage, to get one of the big teams. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that doesn’t come along that often. I’m sure the fans will be delighted.”
Van Persie, our Dutch maestro has been busy in the press, reminding us of the importance of the game.
“Arsenal always wants to play Champions League and I think Arsenal needs to play Champions League. If you have players like this, good players, big stadium, then I think you need to play in the highest league in Europe. But this is football – if you don’t win two games then you don’t qualify and we play Uefa Cup.”
Van Persie, who played for Feyenoord until his transfer in 2004 know all about the Dutch side.
“I know them quite well as I have Dutch satellite. It was quite, though, a big shock because in Holland everyone expected Ajax to win and in the end Twente played better and these things happen in football.
“They had a great year last year, but they lost two of their best playmakers – Karim El Ahmadi and Orlando Engelaar. However, they got Theo Janssen from Vitesse, so they are still in good shape with a good team.”
And whilst VP it at it, he managed to take a quick dig at Sp*rs. You got to love the boy!
“It is unthinkable for us not to be in the Champions League. Twente’s equivalent in England? Tottenham!”
I’d say we were definitely favourites. The only real concern with our XI tomorrow will be the defensive midfield position. We may be able to get away with Denilson partnering Cesc in this game, but we are a little exposed in this area. Our injury list so far is:
Nasri – thigh strain
Diaby – thigh injury
Rosicky – everything
Bischoff – unfit
Song – Olympics
That’s not a huge amount of people to be missing, so it’s obvious the we will sign a defensive midfielder by the 31st August. We have to, it would be insane if we didn’t!
Okay, here’s a first XI preview:
I’d expect to see Eboue and Walcott deployed on the wings as Rosicky and Nasri are injured.
On the bench, we may well see: Fabianksi, Senderos, Djourou, Traore, Wilshere, Vela and Bendtner. And if any one of the above doesn’t make it, Ramsey would be next in line.
Here’s to a great victory tomorrow…
Just before I go, I expect Joe Cole to say something nasty about us later today. I dunno. Just a hunch…
Have a great day… ’til tomorrow.]]>