Match Preview: Arsenal vs Celtic

Boys and Girls…

The time has come for second home game of the season and I am very much looking forward to my trip to the Emirates today – free scarf at hand, ready to twirl it around pre, during and post match…!

Okay… let’s dive straight into it… tonight it’s Arsenal vs Celtic at the Emirates for a place in the Champions League proper.

Arsenal v Celtic
UEFA Champions League, Emirates Stadium
Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 19:45

The good news coming out of the Arsenal camp is that Rosicky will be back for Saturday’s game, but he looks certain to miss tonight’s game. The extent of Cesc’s injury is still relatively unknown, but one thing we know for definite is that he won’t be back today. The hamstring injury originally feared looks like more of a muscle problem and Arsene revealed he hopes he is back for the Man United game:

“From last Saturday we lost Cesc Fabregas who did not train today. His scan was quite reassuring as he has no muscular strain but it will take a few days to settle down. There’s a chance he’ll be fit for Old Trafford.”

Which is great news… I’ve made my feelings clear – for the big games, we need the big players and Cescito, mes amigos, is one of our biggest players (not in size!)… and his presence will be very useful for what will be our biggest test of the season.

One player who looks set to start today is Welsh 18 year old International midfielder super-duper extraordinaire… aka, Aaron Ramsey, who came on for Cesc at half time against Portsmouth and played very well, scoring a goal in the process too… Arsene spoke about the midfield yesterday and highlighted Ramsey as a potential starter:

“It is another chance for him. It’s a big season for him but don’t forget he is only 18. I believe his target for this year, and I told him before the season started, is between 15 and 20 games. The way he is developing, he could get that. I am not scared to put Ramsey in [for this game],” the manager added later. “But we still have Song, Diaby and Denilson”

So, it looks like Arsene will rotate the midfield a little, we’ve seen Diaby rested originally before he was fit, then we’ve seen Song rested, Cesc rested and by the law of a rotation policy, that should see Denilson rested today! It must be tempting for Arsene to field more of the younger players today, considering our 2-0 advantage, but as this game represents such an important game for us, I’d expect a semi-strong team… so here goes my predicted team line up:

Almunia

Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy

Song – Diaby

Eboue – Ramsey – Eduardo

Bendtner

With a bench of… Mannone, Gibbs, Silvestre, Denilson, Merida, Arshavin and Van Persie. I’m thinking Van Persie will be rested to the bench and Arshavin may be rested completely, although he may feature on the bench if Arsene deems necessary. I’d also expect to see Merida come in but maybe not start. The full squad lists are:

Arsenal (from): Almunia, Sagna, Vermaelen, Gallas, Clichy, Song, Ramsey, Denilson, Diaby, Bendtner, Eduardo, Mannone, Van Persie, Eboue, Arshavin, Wilshere, Gibbs, Silvestre, Merida.

Celtic (from): Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, Loovens, Daniel Fox, McCourt, Scott Brown, Donati, McDonald, Maloney, McGeady, Samaras, Fortune, Zaluska, Naylor, Flood, O’Dea, Caddis

Personally, I’d love to see Wilshere start and think this type of game is very suitable for him – but I have a feeling Arsene doesn’t want to play both Ramsey and Wilshere in the same starting XI for such a big game. Arsene also reminded us – the fans – that of course, the job is not done, there is a fair amount still to do:

“My priority is still to get into the Champions League first and once we are in it, to try to win. We live in a pragmatic world so let’s first get in it. It’s not job done, it’s job to do. That’s how I approach it. There’s a job to do and to finish. We have done a big part of it but the most important [thing] is to get over the line and that’s what we want to achieve tomorrow.”

So, raise your scarves, tune into the game on TV, find a pub with the game on and get ready for another great European night!

  • Debs

    Totally random yeah, but I’m looking to get an Arsenal laptop
    skin-cover. Does anyone know where I can get one from? Thanks!

  • Berth

    Dev do you mean play Wilshere? or are you making a joke of the team. good read though; especialy the recent acknowledgement of Female fans; my sister will appreciate that dev.

  • Arsefan101
  • Debs

    Thanks a lot for your help, Arsefan101, :) but I meant one that can be left permanently on the laptop whilst in use. Kind of like a wallpaper, but for the outside of the laptop… Thanks! :)

  • Leeroy.N

    Debs – Try here – http://www.oleole.com/arsenal/wallpapers/mgm2i001mtt.asp

    There are tonnes.

    DEV – Good shout. I think Eboue will get a start today. But I think Arshavin will too, As well as the need to rest players I think the squad will come out a little stronger. I like the way Arshavin operates, he seems to be a thorn in the side of his opponent. He may not be scoring, but he attracts so much attention from the ball and any building play. He is the perfect weapon for us!

    Win, Lose or Draw.. Gooner Til I Die!!

  • Leeroy.N

    This should be our new motto.. http://www.oleole.com/wallpapers/arsenal/arsenalwallpapers/mw5980.asp?et=t&ei=58

    “Heroes come and go. Our passion is forever.”

  • Debs

    Come on you gunners!

  • Bonathan

    I think we’ll really miss Song when he goes to the african nations

  • Debs

    Awesome dive by Eduardo, if I can say that! :)

  • Bonathan

    awful miss by bentner. i thought heading was the one thing he was half decent at.

  • Fabrez

    lol debs! I actually feel awful… 1 thing we deserve is to be in the lead but dudu didn’t need 2 do that. Esp against Mowbray…he really admires Arsene n Arsenal. Oh well! 1-0 to the Arsenal!

  • Fabrez

    Yeah Bonathan… a real Bendtner howler!

  • Debs

    \yeah, I did end up feeling bad after a few minutes. I think Arshavin’ll have a word with Eduardo after; on’t think he’ll approve! But in truth though, Eduardo has had a bit if a shocker tonight, but he’s still got a goal to his name.

  • Fabrez

    Yup…not Edu’s best but i feel if we really needed goals or it was the Man u clash he’d put em away. He seems to b in a playful mood almost! Good 4 Eboue. Look fwd 2 seein Ramsey now. I want 2 more goals!

  • Fabrez

    That Arsh jersey was so worth it 2day!! I still want 2 more!

  • Fabrez

    Happy with the result. We were always gonna win 2 b fair. Bit disappointed in dudu goin down cuz we were toying with them. Arsh wudn’t have dun it. And quality goal frm Celtic at the end.

  • Marc Callan

    Yeah it’s a poor dive by Eddie…B52 was firing blanks which I think his new nickname needs to change! Have to say collectively they were brilliant, very impressed by them…was surprised to see Arsh on but he was very good…Gallas looks tired, just there at the end he looked it, overall well done lads

    Bring on Man U

  • VJ

    guys great performance there. have to say we dont really need a midfielder. all were exceptional tonight. denilson the best in my opinion among song and diaby. ramsay also looks solid an assist for his troubles. eduardo yeah not great but whatever, he looks good but is needing that final belief i thonk in his finishing but hopefully will start alongside van persie and arshavin on saturday. arshavintop class in that position hope to see more goals on saturday from him. defence great nothing needed to be said. im interested to see the midfield arsene will play we have players:

    fabregas,denilson, song, diaby, maybe rosicky

    to choose from so it should hopefully be top class game, the only thing im annoyed is that gallas didnt score our hottest goalscorer didnt get any chances, though im backing him for a winner on saturday

  • Steve

    Good for Edu, it’s about time we started being ruthless. I’m bored of Arsenal being the team who play good pretty football and suffer when other teams kick us off the pitch or score an offside goal. Keeper knew he was taking a risk rushing out, and good teams make their own luck by being in and around the box.

    Good solid performance without ever hitting top gear. Arshavin made a great impact. Gallas had a great game. Eboue took his chance well. Job done.

    Good to see we rested some key players. Hopefully Ramsey will be fine.

    Bring on Man U.

  • jien

    great game, i m happy to see both Ramsey and Wilshere ( 18 and 17 respectively) playing so well. Our future is well secured under Wenger. Saw SAF on the crowd just now, must be scratching his head on how to stop us this weekend..ha

    Bring on MU, in Wenger i trust!

  • Berth

    Yeah yeah, whatever;Steve I like that your sentence about we making our own luck.We all did well esp Den the fighter; Song was not convincing the way he was in his last game – its had me worried and again we could not get a clean sheet. In all the players deserve commendation .

  • Debs

    I wanted a clean sheet, but Celtic deserved a goal, and the strike was a special one- no one to blame for it.

  • Vazy

    Shame about Eduardos goal it killed the game, but saying that, did anyone see the laser on his face when he was taking the pen? on a second saying that, a goal is a goal and CHAMPS LEAGUE HERE WE COME!

  • Marc Callan

    Yeah it’s fair enough, with the goalkeeper rushing out I think he knew the player might go down…have to say I was very impressed with Eboue after last year and I’m actually glad we didn’t sell him…

    I won’t say a word about the wee Russian, nothing more you can say after the comments above…

    In Arsene We Trust

  • Leeroy.N

    Hey All. Just seen some of the highlights of the second half. It was a decent performance. Again.. not typical free-flowing Arsenal with the clinical passing and one-twos, just good all round. I’m not too concerned YET about the clean sheets. I would love some, but its the end result that is important. Edu’s goal.. what can be said. I’m glad we got it to be honest. I’ve argued this all night with Man U and Citeh fans. But “nice guys finish last”, that’s what I remember.

    Win, Lose or Draw… Gooner Til I Die!!

  • Justin

    I felt proud of Denilson when he stepped up to Brown to save Wilshere from the scotsman for an rash tackle…
    After being cautioned by the ref, Denilson & Brown exchanged a few words and it was clear Denilson said “You dont touch him”..
    Denilson acted as an senior player of the team, and stepped in to take care of his young team mate!!!!!
    I love to see that fella……..!!!

  • Justin

    Eboue was the man of the match yesterday!!!!

    Any complaints????

  • Debs

    I do feel proper bad about the penalty this morning! But at least it didn’t really affect the outcome. As Wenger said, we were more likely to score the first goal, and if anything, the goal seemed to fire up the Celtic players, for a few minutes at least!

  • Debs

    No complaints about Eboue being man of the match, he deserved it, but there were a few other candidates for that honour, which is good to see.

  • VJ

    guys i agree with steve on the penalty we need to start being the boss in the game. this is not some small saturday school match, this is real business and we need to keep being ruthless and crush our opponents hard. it reminds me of our glory days when we took every chance available.
    looks like the injury plague continues with wenger saying cesc will be short, ramsay is injured and diaby is likely to be rested which hints at a start for rosicky

  • Gooner Get Ya

    Eduardo is getting slated this morning and rightly so IMO. I think a ban is being called for but would be a touch harsh. That aside I thought we played pretty well and deserved the win. Lets hope we get a decent draw for the next stage.

  • Fabrez

    Justin… agreed about liking to see Denilson fired up for his teammate. He will a big player for us when he comes of age. He’s been decent so far this yr. Wonder who our midfield trio when Song goes to the ACN? And Eboue had a MoM performance IMO.

  • Fabrez

    Doubt Edu will get banned but he deserves his slating. Will b forgotten by 4:30 2day when ppl r talking about the group of death…hope we aren’t part of that group! Bring on the draw!!

  • kuka

    ….It was not a penalty, but let us face it, I have seen worse dives given. For the first time in ages, its gone in Arsenal’s favor. As Wenger said, I do not think Eduardo would have dashed at the Ref if the penalty decision was not awarded. I watched the game and did not see any Arsenal player marauding the ref to issue a penalty.

    …..Having said that, we won the game clean. I was glued on my couch watching the game on ITV and not for single moment did I feel CELTIC were winning the game. This includes the moments before and after the penalty decision. Having watched football for sometime now, I am accustomed to “incidents” taking centre stage and stealing away from what should have been an excellent night for the Arsenal.

    …..Very few pundits and opponent fans want to admit that the current Arsenal team is more resilient and willing to fight for each other. Since we had been written off, everyone is so quick to give excuses whenever we do get a good result. For Everton, the excuse was “Lescott’s attitude” and the weakened Everton side. For the Celtic game away, it was the “lucky goals” by Gallas and the Celtic On-goal”. For the Portsmoth game, it was the shambles and take-over delays marred by the defensive frailties of PM” and now, its “Eduardo’s Penalty”. …………..Cammon good people, let us face it, Arsenal are just playing really well. They are winning pretty and winning dirty at the same time…….

    ……am sure come Saturday, there will be another Story…………

  • zohaib

    Hello guys ! Good to see us winning !

    There’s a lot of talk about how Eduardo’s penalty wasn’t a penalty etc etc. I agree it wasn’t. But I’d like to believe he was just looking out for his feet and expected Boruc to clatter him, which is why he decided to lift his feet off the ground for minimal damage. In the end it looked like he dived but didn’t ask for a penalty. It was given and the keeper wasn’t able to save it. Tough luck but I’d call it justice served because in the first leg we were at the receiving end of some harsh tackles and we saw Fabregas get injured as a result. So I’m not complaining. Specially because these kinds of decisions always go against us. Remember what happened against Liverpool in the Champions League two years ago ?

    Coming back to present times, I’ve read Wenger’s post-match interview and it looks like Ramsey is injured. No word on how bad it is, but he might miss the ManUtd game. And Fabregas might not be ready for Saturday either. Here’s what Wenger had to say :

    On injuries ahead of the Manchester United game…
    “Aaron Ramsey is injured. I do not know how bad it is. I know they checked his knee but I have not spoken to the physios yet. Cesc looks to be short for Saturday. I could take Diaby off because he has not played for a long time. Three games in the same week would be a lot, apart from that, everybody looks alright.”

    What I gather from this is that Diaby might start in place of Fabregas. But the other concern I have is over Denilson. He’s played every minute of all 4 matches so far and he’s got no rest. Will he have enough in the tank to start against ManUtd ? He might’ve been rested had Fabregas been fit but because he looks to be short, will we risk playing Denilson again ? Or will Rosicky start giving Denilson a much needed rest ?

    To me it looks like the backline will be the same and I expect Arshavin and VanPersie to be in the starting line-up seeing as they got quite a rest last night. Eboue or Bendtner for the third place in the front 3.

  • Debs

    I love Eduardo to bits, so all the slating is going to hurt. But I think calling for him to be banned is a bit too extreme. There have been far worse in the game. Granted, it WAS a dive, but like Wenger said, he’d not have moaned if the penalty wasn’t given.
    And true Fabrez, it’ll all be forgotten by the time the group draw is made later today. I’m quite excited! I’m not too too bothered about who we get, because I’m sure we’re good enough to get through. I’m just happy we’re not in the Europa league draw, not that it seemed at any point that we would be! Long may our CL tradition continue!

    And Kuka, I’m sure when, not if, we beat Man U on Saturday, they’ll start to take notice of us!

  • Pete

    For me, as far as the Champions League is concerned, the focus has been purely about results and making sure we qualify. If we worried just about our performances and yet didn’t qualify, then we’d have our priorities the wrong way round. So I’m pleased that we reached our first objective and that we’re through. Now we’re in the same situation as all the other teams, so performances can improve.

    As for Eduardo, as long as he doen’t make a habit of diving, then I’m willing to let it go this one time, epsecially after all he’s been through with injuries. But I found myself not celebrating when he scored (even though it was a well-taken penalty). He nearly made up for it with that long-range shot that was saved before half-time.

    What does come across as hypocrisy though is that whenever players like Gerrard dive (and do it more frequently than we do), they tend not to come under the same criticism. If you’re going to call for the ban of one player, then surely by default you have to ban a lot of other players in other clubs.

    I could understand calls for a ban if the scoreline was a lot tighter and we went through on just a one goal difference, but we won 5-1 on aggregate, so the penalty wasn’t actually a deciding factor to the final result. At least Tony Mowbray was more magnanimous about the two legs and admitted we were the better side. He’s a fair guy.

    Hopefully we’ll get a good draw later today!

  • Berth

    We have so many Arsenal haters in the british press; they seem upset all the time we get slight favours from refrees or when things go our way sometimes(My opinion). Arsenal loose a match suddenly there is crisis in Arsenal, Manu loose then its a bad day in the office, these guys never fail to amaze me.

  • Berth

    “Or will Rosicky start giving Denilson a much needed rest ?” –
    @ Zohaib – So glad to hear from you after a long time. I will like to educate you about resting Denilson. its a risky business for the team, considering the job he does; he (Denilson) is the reason we play the 4-3-3; he is the reason the 4-3-3- has been sucesful this far; his positional sense and tracking back has been pretty much impressive. It will be okay to have Rosicky in the man u match but not as a replacement for Denilson. Denilson in the past few games has rising up to the occasion and you can’t reward him by benching him in a match that could potentially earn him a call up to the brazilian national team, especially now Anderson is off form.

    As for fab if he doesn’t play Wenger should consider playing Arshavin or Rosicky in the central midfield and not Diaby; if Diaby starts the match we will loose.

  • Vazy

    2 names i have for you Ronaldo and Drogba, how can they think of trying to ban a player who has dived ONCE compared to both of them! i diddnt celebrate the goal, it was a bit harsh on celtic, but hey ho its sometimes the way it goes, and for a decision to go our way for once was nice (looking back on it) why do we get singled out?

  • dave

    sorry to say this but that was nothing more than cheating sad day at arsenal hes not the first and he wont be the last shame on you

  • sam

    lay off Edu!
    If you had been put out of the game for such a long time by a reckless tackle, maybe you’d react to avoid the goalkeeper’s tackle.

  • Leeroy.N

    At the end of the day you are playing to win, whether you go down easily, call for a handball in the box which really isn’t, call for a corner that isnt, go down to easy for a free kick.. which would result in a goal (Ronaldo, champions league). It happens, I’m not overly impressed of the fashion. But it’s my/our team at the end of the day. You support them through the good, bad and controversial no matter what. IMO.

    Win, Lose or Draw… Gooner Til I Die!!

  • Steve

    Ban him?!?!?! F**k off.

    Ridiculous. The ref can card a player if he feels its a dive, but he saw it and made his call.

    Can’t count the number of times we have suffered from soft penalties.

    Toure on Babel in the CL QF when we were going through with 5 mins left?
    Clichy on ??? at Birmingham the day our season turned around in 07/08.

    These were crucial decisions that cost us big. We were 2-0 up in this game and dominating, with more strength on the bench, and went on to win by 4 clear goals!!

    Lets have a bit of perspective guys. This is the same player that was out for a season after a tough challenge that could ahve ended his career and were questioning him picking his feet up as the keeper rushes out??

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    Steve, I cannot disagree more. What was more dissapointing than Edaurdo’s ridiculous dive was Wengers reaction. He admitted it was not a penalty but refused to condemn the player. As you pointed out, we were all gutted about Babel in the QF of the CL – and Wenger demanded an apology afterwards…. but he’s not forcing an apology now. Hypocrisy?

    And if you seriously are going to defend the indefensible by suggesting that Edaurdo lifted his legs to avoid a challenge you’re an idiot. There is literally nothing to that but weak excuse. He clearly knew what he was doing, he smiled about it after it was awarded and punched the camera in the most arrogant spiteful way he could possibly manage to celebrate the goal. He didn’t even ‘lift his legs’ he left them trailing to make contact, so not only is it a ridiculous excuse it’s factually inaccurate.

    The other excuse is ‘everyone else does it look at Drogba’ which is pathetic. People rob banks and commit suicide, do you copy them?

    If you get caught diving you get booked, if you get away with it and it is clear, as in this case, you should get a 1 match ban. It doesn’t matter who you play for, Arsenal/ManUre or CSKA Fulham – maybe then Drogba would stay on his feet and Edaurdo wouldn’t try to make up for an apalling first touch by conning the ref for a pen.

    The irony of it is, it’s soiled an easy win. We won by four clear goals, would have won by three without the penalty and we played at a canter – we didn’t get out of second gear and treated it like a training match – so there was even less reason to cheat.

    Ashamed to be an Arsenal fan this morning, and ashamed/sickened that idiots are trying to defend our team cheating :(

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    We have so many Arsenal haters in the british press; they seem upset all the time we get slight favours from refrees or when things go our way sometimes(My opinion). Arsenal loose a match suddenly there is crisis in Arsenal, Manu loose then its a bad day in the office, these guys never fail to amaze me.

    Really? ManUre lost to Burnley and the Sun were after Fergusons head! They’ve were hammered for losing that game, everyone attributing it to Ronaldo’s departure. Look at Liverpool, lost twice and the fans are calling for Rafa’s head (remind you of anything Arsenal fans?) all fuelled by the press who delight in pointing out the creative hole in midfield left by Alonso. Aston Villa were lambasted after their first game of the season, Martin O’Neil in particular getting some fierce criticsm.

    Arsenal are getting bad press this morning because we deserve it. We cheated. Don’t be surprised that people are unhappy, it wasn’t a 50-50 decision it was blatent cheating.

    Look at Gallas at Pompey – not a single member of the British press claimed that was a sending off or a free kick, but it could easily have been. They all glossed over our second goal being offside from Eboue – that was a ‘favour’ from the lino and ref and none of the press slated us for that!

    It’s easy to feel that world is against you but it is simply not the case, specifically this season. Sorry, I’m in a bad mood today, really appalled that ‘football fans’ are trying to excuse that disgraceful incident last night.

  • Debs

    Good point Kieran, but I think because it happens so so often, the fact that it’s actually cheating is lost, and one can only blame it on the fact that there’s no sanction for it, so the players aren’t too concerned about not doing it. Thinking objectively, it was horrible, but when it’s your own player, especially when the player in question is Eduardo, human nature almost dictates that you look for the nearest excuse and cling on to it. I just hope it never happens again. I’m sure Wenger’ll have a word with Eduardo, he should, but I didn’t expect him to criticise him in public, because it’s not his way to criticise his own players in public, like we’ve all seen in the past.

  • Vazy

    i think this has all been blown well out of proportion.

    fine eduardo fell over, so what? i diddnt feel proud to be an arsenal fan at that moment, but still this is completely stupid where was all this for any other dive?

    @ Kierandeleaney.net i may be wrong but i can think of only one person (and the name escapes me! typical) has been banned for diving (post match) and that was outside of england. never seen anyone else get match bans for diving, that includes internationals.

  • Debs

    Vazy, there’s been Lithuania striker Saulius Mikoliunas against Scotland in Hampden Park in 2007 who was given a 2-game ban. I think there’s been one other one…

  • Leeroy.N

    Wenger wouldn’t criticise his own players in public. He’ll save that for the dressing room and/or his office. I don’t believe anyone is proud of the fact in which we got that first goal. To be honest I’m not, but I’m glad we got the win anyway. Even if UEFA was to give them the goal back which was offside and took the penalty away from us, we still blew them out of the water. I would be more concerned if it would have been the deciding goal over the two-legs. I was listening to the pundits and commentators who said and I quote “there doesn’t have to be contact for a penalty to be given, just the intent” (Not my words). It is a totally grey area however you want to argue the case. I have looked at it over and over again. Eduardo was expecting contact, no doubt, but Boruc managed to do enough not to touch him. But no way, would I condem my own player/players as much as some for going down to easily. Thats just me. But don’t get me wrong, I have said I’m not happy with how it went down (no pun intended) but’s how football is at times. We have been punished more and in worse ways, EVERY Arsenal fan knows that. People are different and react different to decisions and things that happen in games. I doubt we’ll see it or much of the same manner in time to come. We are better than that.

    Win, Lose or Draw… Gooner Til I Die!!

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    i may be wrong but i can think of only one person (and the name escapes me! typical) has been banned for diving (post match) and that was outside of england. never seen anyone else get match bans for diving, that includes internationals.

    Exactly! They should ban every player who dives in every league where the technology exists to prove/disprove the accusation.

    Failing that they should bring in video reffing like in Rugby for conentious issues like pen appeals.

  • Leeroy.N

    kierandelaney.net – Out of curiousity, od you want Eduardo to be banned?

  • Leeroy.N

    Do*

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    Not especially, but I am ashamed by his behaviour and if Fifa/FA turned around and decided to ban him for diving, then I would support it – as long as they apply the same rule to everybody from this point forward.

    There a difference between wanting and accepting.