Arsenal vs AZ Alkmaar, Match Day Live

Evening guys… it’s Champions League Wednesday today and tonight it’s a clash between our beloved Arsenal and AZ Alkmaar at the Emirates. I’m still on my US tour, so won’t be around to watch or comment on the game (I’m boarding a flight in a couple of hours, so by the time I land, the game will be over)… so I am relying on some detailed info in the comments section!

Team news ahead of the game sees both Tomas Rosicky and Samir Nasri named in the squad, along side Eduardo, Van Persie and Arshavin, which means that it’s going to be hard to predi who will start tonight. Of course, the news that Clichy is out until the end of the year is a big blow – our back four was looking semi settled. But of course, having Kieran Gibbs in reserve is a thing not many other clubs have – and Traore in reserve for Gibbs.

Although we drew our last, a home win and an away win already in the competition means that depending on other results, a win tonight could see us qualify for the next round and the game, being at the Emirates, may allow us to rotate the squad a little, but not too much.

Here’s my team prediction:

Almunia

Eboue – Gallas – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Ramsey – Diaby

Arshavin – Cesc – Eduardo

Van Persie

With a bench of Mannone, Silvestre, Senderos, Song, Sagna, Rosicky and Nasri.

I’m not I’m not 100% correct as I haven’t managed to get an indication of whether Arsene wants to try Nasri out from the start or bring him on later on in the game. Arsene spoke pre match and summarised tonight’s game…

“I still believe AZ have a substantial chance to go through [from Group H]. At Olympiacos I felt they were unlucky to lose the game.

“I watched this game carefully and they were a bit unlucky. They had the best chances, good possession and then, against Standard, they got caught back late in the game. So they have shown the potential to qualify.

“It will be very tight until the end. Olympiacos now go away twice to Standard and to Alkmaar. I feel these two games will make the decision on who goes through.”

“Tomas had a small injury this time but you expect that,” said Wenger. “He played three games in a week after he came back but he manages to resist now. As for Nasri, I’m not sure whether I will play him or not. It’s his first game so I don’t know.”

“It is good to go through early,” he said. “However we want to finish first in the group and that will not be done tonight. Yet we can make the first step – win and qualify.

“That will be a big leap but you know we were warned at Alkmaar that this team has quality and that, in my opinion, they focus highly on the Champions League.

“Maybe a bit too much if you look at their position in the league but they have won the League last year and from what I have seen in the last game I believe we want to go into the game focused 100 per cent.

“For our part, we have to show that we can focus every three days, we can play for each other all along the season and we can prepare every game with the same kind of conscientious attitude.

“That’s a lot of things to accomplish. But it is all in front of us and, for example, in this game we have to show that we can go into the game with the same seriousness that we have done on Saturday.”

So, boys and girls, it’s all about qualification to the Champions League tonight, let’s see what the boys are made on… cheer them on, as many comments as possible welcome!!

  • Gooner Get Ya

    What’s happened to Clichy, is it his back again?

  • wills

    If I was Wenger, I’d rest RvP for this one, and play Eduardo instead.

    We should be able to beat AZ with RvP on the bench, and I know I’d rather win 1-0 than 3-0 and have him pick up a knock.

    Maybe start Nasri over Cesc too to give him a breather, although I very much doubt Wenger would do that.

    Should be a good game, AZ need a result or they’re effectively out, so they should try and attack from the off, which will give us plenty of opportunity to get forward and counter.

    Prediction: 3-0 to the Arsenal!

  • Leeroy.N

    WILLS – Good shout, I would use him and Arshavin as an impact sub. Give Eduardo, Eboue and Ramsey a start. I would also put Diaby way upfront too. But this is Le Boss we are comparing minds to and we know he doesnt take risks unless he HAS to. In saying that, we have to consider players such as Merida and Vela, dispite injury woes, they are becoming frustrated with lack of playing time. I dont blame them though, they are special players.

    I predict 4-1 to the Gunners

  • devday

    GGY – Clichy has a stress fracture in his back – it is “suspected”, but a similar injury to the one he had last years. Arsene says he’s out for a few weeks, but noise is that he will be out for about 2 months.

    Wills – Re: tonight’s line up – I think he will play RvP, simply because a win will qualify us and I don’t think he feels he could take that for granted. If we lost, it would open up the group a lot!

    Leeroy – I’m dying to see Vela in action soon, but every time I think he is going to play, he seems to be injured too! Really looking forward to qualifying tonight and then in the next two games, people like Wilshere, Merida, Traore, Vela and some of the other fringe players can get a well earned CL run out!

  • andrew

    hey fellow gunners,

    i’m hoping to watch this game from across the pond. anyone know a website that will stream the game live?

  • sam

    It’s going to be a great game, but in any case… Win, lose or draw, Gooner till I die.

    BTW, news on our Captain Fantastic;

    Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas Voted PFA Fans’ Player Of The Month.

    Congratulations, Cesc! keep it up.

  • Pete

    Samir Nasri starts according to BBC Sport

  • Pete

    Almunia

    Eboue Gallas Vermaelen Gibbs

    Song Diaby

    Arshavin Cesc Nasri

    RvP

  • Debs

    Whatt! I didn’t know that was in! Get in Fabregas!

  • Fabrez

    1-0 courtesy Cesc! Love it!

  • devday

    Just landed in Salt Lake City and we’re 1-0 up! So far so good… news is that Nasri started and looks impressive. He’s playing in the front three, so an indication that he may be considered a forward player rather than part of the midfield… Anyway, let’s roll on, and make sure we win this one!

  • Debs

    Nasri! 2 nil!

  • Debs

    Arshavin assist. Awesome stuff!

  • Fabrez

    SUBLIME! What a pass from Arsh…Nasri’s movement is amazing…GOAL! Good on Samir. !st Champions League goal…many more to come i hope!

  • Fabrez

    *1st

    Really nice football from the Gunners!

  • Debs

    Didn’t know it was Nasri’s first CL goal. Well done! And yeah, more to come, hopefully. We are really playing some sublime stuff! More goals pleas… :-)

  • Pete

    3-0 Cesc again :-) Beautiful goal!

  • sam

    Captain Fantastic at it again.
    3-0 to Gunners.

  • Debs

    3 nil! Woo!

  • sam

    With Nasri scoring tonight, it’s now 17 goalscorers this season. This is highly impressive. Clean sheet would be nice now.
    Go Gunners!

  • Debs

    I’m really impressed with Arshavin. He’s working really hard. It’ll be awesome if he scores as well. Gibbs is playing fantastically as well, and I just love Vermaelen more and more with every passing minute! :-D Fabregas awesome as usual, and Gallas playing with so much confidence! Good times all round! :-)

  • Debs

    4-nil! Arshavin assist for Diaby. Brilliant back-heel by Eduardo though. Lovely stuff!

  • Pete

    OH MY DAYS!!!!!!!!!!! :D Arshavin is on fire. Another assist, this time for Diaby :)

  • Debs

    Damn. No clean sheet.

  • Pete

    Bugger, thats annoying!

  • Pete

    Full time :-) Great game!

  • Debs

    And we’re the only English team to win in the CL this week! :-)

  • Pete

    lol Good point Debs :-)

    Already looking forward to highlights.

    Liverpool drew 1-1 with Lyon after being ahead 1-0. Footballs a crazy game.

  • http://worldofarsenal Josiah

    Great win tonight!

  • Debs

    Why do the Sky sports lads keep depressing us, even when we win, by reminding us of our defensive problems?! Aarggh!

  • Debs

    Thank God for Charlie Nicholas on SSN! Lol
    But yeah, Pete! Can’t wait for the highlights- might even watch the whole match again on ATVO in the morning :-)

  • Leeroy.N2

    Come on you Gunners! I predicted right! Yay me! Haha

  • Debs

    Good prediction, Leeroy! But I guess you were the reason why we conceded! Lol

  • Debs

    And yeah, Welcome back Nasri!

  • Berth

    Nasri left the defender for dead. And what a great strike by Nas. Loving the Arsenal way.

  • Fabrez

    I absolutely loved the performance but Cesc’s second assisted by Arsh (who had an immense game) was class…I loved how he opened his body as if he was going to go far post but lashed it home near post! Sweet stuff. A finish full of conviction. He did the same against Tot’ham on the weekend. It’s a little skill that will gift a player a few more goals than the average player. That guy is only 22…we have a side and squad that can dominate football in England and Europe once we stay together. I feel as if we can do it this season of course. Glad Samir got on the score sheet and credit to Diaby…he said after training, he practices his close range finishing…he showed it 2nite. C’mon Gunners…y’all look very very good! Starting to look fearless!

  • Leeroy.N2

    DEBS – oh thanks!! I’m just a realist. Haha! Anyone warming up to Diaby yet?? I think he had a Really good game today!

  • devday

    Just landed in Memphis and have just read through the comments – the game sounds amazing! Gutted I missed it! I have time on my side and after my next flight I’ll hopefully catch the game on AVTO!

  • Fabrez

    I think if Diaby can show us that kind of performance CONSISTENTLY, I’ll warm up to him!

  • Fabrez

    Yeah dev…don’t miss it!

  • Fabrez

    Man…i didn’t even mention Dudu’s exquisite back heel…a literally perfect pass! Gooner 4 life man…thru bad times and good! :D

  • devday

    Just seen the highlights, looks like it was an amazing display of football… since I’ve been out of the country, we’ve beaten Liverpool, Sp*rs and played this awesome game against Alkmaar.

    The highlights can be found here:

    http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/3830861/

  • Leeroy.N

    Diaby needs consistancy, no doubt. But I think that will be resovled with positional problem solving. I think he is more tuned to playing upfront rather than deep in the mid. He is forward thinking. I think we should harness that in him. Great performance non the less, from him and everyone on the pitch. Come on you Gunners!

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

  • Debs

    Looks like Kroenke’s set to take over- he’s got 29.9% of the shares now…
    uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/05112009/58/premier-league-kroenke-verge-arsenal-takeover.html

  • Pete

    Hmmmm, at least it keeps Usmanov away. Not too sure about the possibility of having a foreign owner. Besides, do we really need it? Time will tell.

    Still smiling from last nights game :) Love seeing us play like that.

    Yeah Fabrez, Diaby is definately improving. He’s still got someway to go yet, but at least we’re seeing progress in the guy. He’s not doing bad after only 10 games or so this season. I think he’s in a similar situation to what Song and Denilson was in last year, so he could very well be this seasons “most improved player” if he keeps working hard. Good luck to him.

    Was especially pleased for Arshavin, I think thats the best we’ve seen him play this season. Looks like he’s getting back to his old self.

    Gibbs is looking strong too!

  • ray

    so arshavin showed us what he can do centrally. somehwere i have longed to see him play. i was a bit confused at our formation because i swear sometimes nasri and arshavin would be wide and other times very central. arshavin 3 assits great. maybe he just hates playing on the wing. nasri’s composure for his goal was sublime. diaby is now showing consistency and discipline. i was right the guy does just need games. hes heading in the right direction. song played really well again. his passing really impresses me and his choice selection. also when a right back or centre back gets exposed he immediately fills in for them i like this. it shows awareness. we was cruising its a joke to be crusiing and then bring on two world class players in eduardo and rosicky. our formation is working wonders its so less predictiable and koemans outfit looked organised and tight but we still cut through like a knife through butter. the inter changing and flair of our attacking players are so dynamic they just seem unstoppable. bring on wolves another thumping and a chelsea man utd draw. lovely jubbly.

  • Walter Broeckx

    The moaning brigade has, in recent weeks chosen two new victims. Diaby and Arshavin.

    Useless, not interested, not good enough, should never play, off to Spain … these are the things that we can read on many blogs.

    After the game against Spurs it was told once again by some and despite the fact that our arch-rivals were easily beaten, they barely had 1 dangerous shot on goal in 90 minutes and we could have won by much more.

    Because it was such a nice game and thanks to modern technology we now have at our disposal, I viewed the game again in a relaxed manner this time. Because we must not forget the way we look to a game live. Especially against the Tiny Totts it is full of tension and nervousness. And that’s usually not a good way to properly review a game. So I looked a bit closer at some “moaning victims”.

    “Arshavin, not interested”. Arshavin is a special player with a special body language. When I re-watched the game against Spurs Arshavin really showed how much he was involved in the game. But the problem is that Arshavin wants to do special things and that can go wrong sometimes.

    Passing a ball in to the space of a tenth of a millimetre at a certain player, with the outside of the foot. Those are things we should not even dream of but Arshavin does and he tries it. And if that fails a few times in a game then the moaning brigade steps in.

    What Arshavin does sometimes is run or stand still with his shoulders hanging down in a pose of “do what you want, I do not play anymore”. It is just a way to deceive the opposition.

    If you are an opponent and you see it you could think: “We have eliminated him, he’s finished”. And one could have the tendency to lose him out of sight and that is deadly.

    Remember Liverpool last year? The first half hour the game passed him by completely, he just walked with drooping shoulders over the field and nobody noticed him and suddenly he stood there and was unstoppable. Arshavin is the type of player where anything can happen and sometimes there are those days that it works and sometimes it doesn’t. For those who forget easily: Not every ball that Bergkamp played in his days turned in to gold.

    Now, how can one see that Arshavin is interested? If an attacker, like him, very regularly runs in to our own defence to help or tracks back with an advancing defender then you know that he is interested. I saw him working hard against the Spurs with moments and it tells us something about his commitment.

    “Diaby, not good enough”. Diaby is a player who last season was notable for his regularity. He came back from injury, played an awesome match (the tiles of the roof as we call it over here), then played two decent games and then …. He fell back with a new injury for several weeks and so it went during most of the season.

    This season, so far only one minor injury and for the rest always fit. Again great games (e.g. Portsmouth) and some lesser games. In reassessing the game against the Tiny Totts, Diaby played a very unlucky first half.

    Misunderstandings, the ball that was not being played at the right speed and so it seemed he was doing really badly. Gradually however, he worked harder and harder and came into the game in the second half and he was really doing well. Of course, the moaners had found enough ammunition in the lesser first half to shoot him down.

    Good advice: Review the game again in relaxed conditions and you’ll see things you have not seen the first time.

    A very clever man made the comparison between Song last year and Diaby this year. If we could find web pages from last year we would now simply replace the name Song by Diaby. What was said last year of Song they now say of Diaby. However it is now for the first time since joining Arsenal that it appears that Diaby finally is fit enough to play weeks in a row without injuries.

    And maybe now it’s his year to develop like Song did last year together with Denilson. And then maybe next year the enormous potential that Wenger sees in him and that we get to see in some games, comes completely out in the open for everyone to see.

    If we should believe the moaners on Saturday’s match against the Spurs and that we only played with 9 players and to think we still won so easy 3-0 then that’s just a sign of our power and our strength. We should be happy with the fact that we have played only “moderately” and yet so easily won against a team that “would push us out the top 4″, once again.

  • ArseneKnows

    WALTER BROECKX – you are so so right! what are we gonna do about these moaners?

  • Leeroy.N

    Walter Broeckx – I had to read that twice. But well put. I don’t think everyone hates Diaby as such. Just he tends to stand out when things don’t go to plan. He has been integral for us so far I agree, I like him!! I just feel he is an easy target, such as Arshavin has been for certain games. I think he will grow on people more as the season goes on. Good news about Merida though, lets get that contract signed!!

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

  • Fabrez

    Walter Broeckx – Well said mate! And wud love to see Merida and Rosicky sign new deals! Chelsea seem to be getting re-newals done by the week!! Sign them up AW!