The Champions League Proper…

So, there we have it, our arch enemy – ye olde enemy – have somehow mangled their way into the Champions League Proper… mainly through a lot of luck, a lot of fortune, and a Jermain Defoe handball. When Young Boys were 3-0 ahead over in Switzerland, I had some high hopes, but luckily for Sp*rs, their opposition were even less experienced in European competition than them. For Sp*rs, it’s another “we’ve won the World Cup” moments, expected a DVD out very soon.

Anyway, time to focus on Arsenal and focus on Arsenal we shall. Later today is the Champions League Draw and we’ll see who we’ll get in the group stages. The four pots have been drawn and are:

Pot One

Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd, Barcelona, Inter, AC Milan, Lyon, Bayern

Pot Two

Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Roma, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Valencia, Marseille, Panathinaikos

Pot Three

Tottenham, Rangers, Ajax, Schalke, Basel, Sporting Braga, Kobnhavn, Spartak Moscow

Pot Four

Hapoel Tel Aviv, Twente Enschede, Rubin Kazan, CFR Cluj, Partizan Belgrade, Bursaspor, MSK Zilina, Auxerre

As I do every year, I’ll take a look at the possibilities of what would be our hardest draw and what would be our easiest draw and then of course, we’ll see what we get tomorrow. In Pot Two, the big team that we’ll all want to avoid is Real Madrid, with a hell of a lot of new signings and a good base to start off with and of course, Jose Mourinho in charge, you’ll want to get them in the semi’s rather than the group stage. Out of the rest, the easiest ne is probably Werder Bremen or Benfica, so I’d take either of them… but would prefer a Werder Bremen side lacking the spark of Mezut Ozil…

In Pot Three, due to the nations rule, we can’t get Sp*rs, so the hardest out of the group is probably Schalke – they finished second in the Bundesliga and have a good group of players. Ajax are also a tough team, and I’d expect them to be more disciplined in the group stages, and they’ve got enough talent to give anyone a run for their money. The weakest in the group is probably Kobnhavn, since I’ve never heard of them or watched them play, so if the Gods do look favourably on us, we’ll draw the CL newcomers.

Pot Four is much a do about nothing, with Twente and Auxerre standing out above the rest, but pretty much the whole pot are a group of weak teams. I wouldn’t mind a Buraspor or a MSK Zilina, no disrespect to those teams, but a club of the size and quality of Arsenal, you’d expect us to beat them…

Desired Draw:

Arsenal
Werder Bremen
Kobnhavn
Bursaspor

Hope we don’t get it draw:

Arsenal
Real Madrid
Schalke
Auxerre

The draw kicks off at 1700 (UK time) and will be live on the UEFA site and all the normal twitter, facebook and web channels that we all love… There will be a bit of pre-amble first, as always, so expect news nearer 1730 or 1800…

And finally… rumours regarding the announcement of the Squillaci signing is that the new defender will be announced on Friday alongside Schwarzer, but other rumours suggest some very small contractual issues, nothing to do with wages or Arsenal, just a few random things… but he has pretty much signed and will most likely wear the number 18 shirt this season…

More tomorrow my friends, more tomorrow…

  • Berth

    Good stuff mate

  • http://arsenalandtherandomthoughtsofmylife.blogspot.com/ Debs

    Looking forward to the draw…

  • Berth

    @ Dev: I was thinking of a better team to play chelsea and I came up with this below.
    GK
    Sagna Squillaci Koscienly (Djourou) vermlean

    Diaby Song
    Cesc

    Van Persie Bendner Chamakh

  • Berth

    GK
    Sagna Squillaci Koscienly (Djourou) vermlean

    Diaby Cesc Song

    Van Persie Bendner Chamakh

  • devday

    @ Berth:
    Dropping Clichy and moving Vermaelen to LB?
    I’m not convinced about that. Vermaelen is the best CB we have and putting the two newbies in the middle may not be the best idea.

    In addition, you’ve dropped Walcott and Arshavin both players have a lot of pace.

    With the formation we place, the 4-2-3-1, it’s essential that we have pacy wingers and full backs.

  • http://worldofarsenal Josiah

    in my opinion, our best team in a 4-2-3-1

    GK

    sagna Squillaci Vermaelen Clichy

    Song Diaby

    Walcott Cesc Arshavin

    Van Persie

    but even with that team you can still drop nasri in the hole instead of diaby, find a place for rosicky, not to mention chamakh bendtner and vela, i think as long as we dont get too many injuries, there will be ample back up and ample depth to our squad, also we have koz and djourou as backup in the defensive area, aswell as eboue and gibbs, and even wilshere and denilson.

  • Berth

    Dv. I was hoping you would catch the trick. I said the formation could be ideal to play against Chelsea. And the team mentioned are all above 5ft10 ( except for Sagna and Cesc) and are also physical players – the team just goes to show we have the right combination of players if we all choose to and that Wenger should be a bit adventurous and more tactical aware when playing big teams.

  • ArseneKnows

    It’s official – we’ve signed Squillaci – it’s on the BBC website!

    nice!

  • Yemi

    Crouchy want Inter and Madrid at white hart lane !!!

    Because he scored a hat-trick against youngs boys, now he wants to be drawn in the same group with Inter and Real Madrid………..biting more than you can chew!…..UCL group stages are not for “young boyz” Crouchy!

  • Yemi

    @ ArseneKnows:
    How come its on BBC but not on the official arsenal website?

  • CON-MAN

    spurs make me sick
    hopefully they’ll have a hard group and realise europa league is more their scene

  • devday

    Arsene announced in his press conference that he has signed Squillaci!

  • devday

    Wenger confirmed: “We needed a centre-back of quality and experience if possible, and at the right price – he was all of that.

    “He is a real defender and is good in the one against one, good in the air, and can score goals on set-pieces as well.

    “I believe he will be suited to the English game.

    “He will train with us tomorrow morning, but will not be involved on Saturday.”

  • vj

    Finally I think we have a good enough defense, lets hope they let in fewer goals. So team for Saturday, is more or less confirmed, Wenger said Squillaci wont start, so we can expect Koscielny to start, and hopefully impress again, I really thought he got stuck in at Anfield and hopefully hell give those Blackburn players a kick around. Even if we sign a new GK before the end of the week, which i doubt we will do, Almunia should start

    Almunia
    Sagna Vermaelen Koscielny Clichy
    Song
    Fabregas Rosicky (maybe Diaby)

    Van Persie Chamakh Arshavin ( maybe Walcott)

  • will

    I highly doubt we go into the market now – his words regarding the keeper situation looks like sticking to average al

  • Pete

    Squillaci article from BBC Sport:

    Arsenal have completed the signing of France defender Sebastien Squillaci from Sevilla for an undisclosed fee.

    Reports suggest the 30-year-old was offered a three-year deal, despite manager Arsene Wenger usually giving players in their 30s shorter contracts.

    Wenger said: “We needed a centre-back of quality and experience and at the right price – he was all of that.”

    The £6.5m-rated former Lyon star will not play at Blackburn on Saturday but is eligible for the Champions League.

    Squillaci will help to bolster the Gunners defence, with Sol Campbell, William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre having all recently departed.

    Wenger added: “He is a real defender and is good in the one against one, good in the air, and can score goals on set-pieces as well. I believe he will be suited to the English game.

    “He will train with us on Friday morning but will not be involved on Saturday. I made a bid on the day Sevilla played in the Champions League, so he did not play as he was waiting for the transfer.”

    The centre-half joined Spanish club Sevilla from Les Gones two years ago and asked to be left out of the side for the Champions League play-off against Braga last week to avoid being cup-tied for European competition.

    With Philippe Senderos also leaving the Emirates during the summer, centre-back Laurent Koscielny and Marouane Chamakh were summer recruits for Wenger, who has also been encouraged with the news of Johan Djourou’s return from long-term injury.

    Squillaci was part of France’s miserable World Cup campaign in South Africa, playing in the defeat against the hosts that resulted in the nation finishing bottom of their group.

    In an injury-interrupted campaign, he made 14 league starts for Sevilla last season having been a near ever-present the year before.

    Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has also been linked with a move to the Gunners, with Fulham reportedly turning down two bids for the 37-year-old.

    Wenger was unable to confirm whether he would be involved in the transfer market again and stated: “We are where we are – we have four great keepers and it is important we give confidence to them for the next game.

    “I do not rule it out but at the moment I say I am not in a position to sign anybody. At the moment, it is all dead.”

  • Pete

    Saturday will be a physical game, so I’d like our most physically strongest, most solid players to start:

    Something like:

    Almunia

    Sagna Djourou Vermaelen Clichy

    Song Diaby

    Cesc RvP Arshavin

    Chamakh

    I’d be a little concerned if we started with our smaller players, like Rosicky, Denilson or Theo. I know Arshavins tiny, but he can handle himself and is quite sturdy. Having Song and Diaby would give us a physical side to our midfield. If Djourou is fit to play then I think he’d be more suited to face Blackburn as he’s a bigger lad than Koscielny, but I was impressed with the way Koscielny dealt with playing at Anfield for the most part.

    Thing is, we need to watch out for Blackburns set pieces and corners. You can guarentee that they’ll target Almunia the way they did Fabianski the last time we played there.

    Oh, and am delighted with our new signing, a big welcome to our new defender :)

  • Pete

    Arsenal are in Group H of the Champions League Group stages:

    First opponant is Shakhtar Donetsk (Eduardo’s new team).

  • Pete

    Joining Arsenal and Shakhtar Donetsk in Group H is Braga.

  • Pete

    Group H:

    Arsenal

    Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukrane Champions, Eduardo’s new team)

    SC Braga (2nd in Portugals League)

    Partizan Belgrade (Seerbian Champions)

  • http://worldofarsenal Josiah

    happy

  • Sam

    That’s a great group to be in! I don’t think we should have any problem. Let’s hope we get to travel to Donetsk before the winter weather starts.