Talking about this season, tomorrow night is the first game in the group stage of the Champions League as we take on Dynamo Kyiv (not Kiev, that's chicken) in the Valeri Lobanovski Stadium. Yes, try saying that ten times.
FC Dynamo Kyiv v Arsenal
UEFA Champions League, Valeri Lobanovski Stadium
Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 19:45
The game will be shown live on SKY Sports and coverage will start at 7pm.
After the 4-0 demolition of Blackburn on the weekend, I’m quite exciting about taking on Kyiv now. It’s going to be a real test. It’s kind of a free test where people will not really over-react if we lose, but if we win, it will put us in good stead to qualify with three home games to come…
Arsene Wenger of course is being he usual cautious self and partly to re-focus and bring our players back to earth after a few good wins on the trot, he spoke to Arsenal TV and said:
“It is a tough place for us to go. It is maybe a little bit better for us to play earlier but I am convinced it will still be a massive challenge. We’ll go there and try to win the game but even if we take a point then for me it will be a good start.
“Dynamo Kyiv knocked out Spartak Moscow 4-1, 4-1 [in each leg of their qualifying game]. When you know Spartak Moscow and how strong the Russian League is at the moment that means it is a tough draw. I saw the first game at Spartak Moscow and Dynamo Kyiv were really impressive.
“Our group has four teams who are all used to playing in the Champions League – Fenerbache, Porto, Dynamo and us. Anyone can take points off anyone that’s why for me it’s very important we start well in this game.”
And I think he’s got a point. Dynamo are not a “bad” team. If both teams play to their maximum, yes, we are better, much better, but we must not be complacent, otherwise, like last season’s game against Sevilla, away from home, it can be harder than we think.
First team coach at Kyiv, Yuri Semin, was highly talkative about Adebayor:
“We knew very well prior to this the capabilities of the Arsenal forward. But we will not be putting a man-marker on him. Adebayor plays all over the pitch, and in every zone there will be one of our players to meet him.”
It’s clear to see that Ade has a growing reputational in Europe, and his hattrick against Blackburn would surely have caused some fear in the defenders.
Onto team news and the doubts for the game are Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Eboue and Samir Nasri. I think all three will be fit and Arsene may try and use all three as he attempts to rest Theo Walcott. Arsene has talked about resting his midfield, so here’s my expected line up:
As you can see, I’d also expect Van Persie to be rested as well as Denilson, with Bendtner and Song coming in. I may be wrong, but with a game every three days including the internationals, we have to adjust here and there. On the bench, I’d expect Fabianksi, Djourou, Denilson, Walcott, Ramsey, Vela and Van Persie. With Djourou the only defender on the bench, Ramsey may not be included with Silvestre appearing on the bench after injury.
There will probably be more official news tomorrow… we should have landed in Kyiv by now and be on the training ground…