Arsenal vs Udinese – Champions League Qualifying Round Match Preview
No matter how much stuff is going on in the background, no matter how you’re feeling right now – we’ve all got to put that to one side, as today we have a £25m game and we need to win it. Udinese will be going all out to score at the Emirates, the team is in the middle of a transition, but as fans, we’ve got to get behind the team. It’s going to be one of the toughest Champions League qualifiers that we’ve ever had, but we do have the quality to beat Udinese. Cesc has left, and for the last couple of years, being dogged by injury, we’ve played and won a lot of games without him. Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie will also miss the game through suspension and that makes the game even tougher.
With Bendtner in negotiations to leave, Carlos Vela not in visible sight and Robin Van Persie suspended, we have a lack of fire power – Chamakh seems most likely to start and with Rosicky out of action, it looks like Arshavin may deputise behind the striker, meaning Gervinho and Walcott will marshal the wings. Jack Wilshere will be missing, as will Abou Diaby, so the midfield two could be the same as Newcastle. Rumours that Koscielny has picked up a knock mean that we may see Djourou replace him in the centre of defence.
Sagna – Djourou – Vermaelen – Gibbs
Ramsey – Song
Walcott – Arshavin – Gervinho
With a bench of Fabianski, Jenkinson, Squillaci, Koscielny, Frimpong, Lansbury, Oxlade Chamberlain
Lansbury was omitted from last night’s reserve game, and will most likely be on the bench with fellow youngsters Oxlade, Jenkinson and Frimpong – but how thread bare is that bench? We don’t have any strikers on the bench, and the only attacker on the bench is the 17 year old Oxlade Chambelain… we definitely need more players in our squad!
Arsene spoke about the game and said:
“I just expect my team to have a good game on Tuesday and that will encourage their belief and strengthen their belief. I understand everybody’s worry, but I believe as well a club is a united front. Our players need the support from our fans. It is an important period for this club, but I am confident we will get over it in a very successful way. We need to remain united and not let the media manipulate our fans in a way they should not.”
On Udinese he continued:
“You never knock somebody from Italy out in an easy way so we prepare ourselves for big challenges. We are ready to give our all to be part of the Champions League group stage. I expect a game of 180 minutes where we will have to be at the top for as long as we can and not dream that after 90 minutes it will be over. That would be the right approach.”
Udinese goalkeeper, Samir Handanovic, spoke about the tie and strength of the team.
“We know Arsenal is a strong team, they usually get eliminated only by Barcelona, but Arsenal are not only Fabregas, Nasri and Van Persie. We are different than one year ago too.”
The Fallout from the Newcastle Game Continues
Both Arsenal and Newcastle have been charged with “failing to control their players” last Saturday – personally, I don’t think such an event warranted an FA charge on both clubs – compared to what we have seen in recent times, there wasn’t much to it. Barton will not face any disciplinary action as he was yellow carded, but Gervinho will have a 3 match ban for the
punch, slap, touching of Barton’s face… Alex Song was also charged via video evidence and will also be served a three match ban. It’s going to be a very light midfield against Liverpool with a likely trio of Ramsey, Frimpong and Rosicky, but needs must and that’s what we’re working with at the moment.
Newcastle have already confirmed, but I think Arsenal should also confirm that they will both deny the charge – it wasn’t a major brawl – just a usual Saturday for Joey Barton. To be honest, very glad to have got this game out of the way now…!
So, the deal happened yesterday and for those of you who follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I was tweeting and retweeting a lot of quotes about what Cesc had to say about his departure. I’ll leave you with the best out of the bunch – something to
“I spoke to [Wenger] on Friday to say goodbye and got very emotional because he has been like a father figure,” Fábregas said. “I couldn’t even talk when I wanted to say how grateful I was for what he has done to me, so I had to send a message afterwards saying thanks for everything. If it was not for him I would not be here today to live my dream. I will never have enough words to say how grateful I am. I went from being a boy to a man and they gave me absolutely everything in football. I have mixed emotions. Life goes on: Arsenal will always be there, the fans will always be there. Players come and go; the club will always be bigger than them.”
“At Arsenal, there were finals and semi-finals but we always lacked that little extra push to win something. That was hard to take. It was not that we didn’t win titles it was that we kept going through the same routine, the same things happening to us and us messing up. I gave everything for Arsenal but it didn’t show in the [trophy] cabinet because I only won one FA Cup. That is the biggest regret I will have in my career – not to be able to lift a trophy as Arsenal captain.”
“I will have time to talk about [my departure]. I am sure I will do an interview especially for them [the Arsenal fans] at some stage,” he said. “I am sorry I couldn’t say anything for the last two and half months, Arsenal would not allow me to talk, I was disappointed and upset about that but it had to be like that. I still have, personally, a great relationship with them and I am disappointed to have maybe lost [the affection of] some of the fans.
“I am sorry I couldn’t say anything, I am sorry. I was very, very sad to be leaving. I spent a third of my life there – eight years.”
“If Arsenal want to keep being the club they have been, they must always remain under his [Wenger's] control because he is the best and everyone respects him. He will always be the best person I have met in football.” He also insisted that Arsenal have the squad to continue to compete.
“But I am sure that they will be a strong team again – they are one of the biggest teams in the world. They will be OK without me as they were without Vieira, without Henry, without Bergkamp,” Fábregas said.
“There is not even a question [over whether or not Arsenal's midfield is in good hands]. I have seen them play for years, both Aaron and Jack. Jack will be the England captain in the next two or three years, there is no doubt. You don’t have to be a magician to see that. He has the passing game and he will be an even better player in the future. There is not even a question in my mind about that. As for Aaron: his engine is unbelievable, his final ball will get better and he will be the next big star at Arsenal. They are winners and they will be amazing for the club for sure.”
Finally, if you are going to the game, I implore you – please get behind the team – it’s so important right now, they need all the support they can get.