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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Udinese (h) preview

  Set for more abuse after his outburst

In recent seasons we've had to watch Arsenal play this qualifying round for the Champions League with some regularity. This season seems somewhat different. Quite apart from the issues surrounding the Club at the moment we are up against a credible opponent for the first time. With all due respect to those that have visited us before at this stage Udinese are a bit of a step up in class from Zagreb, FC Twente and Celtic. To add to Arsenal's difficulty is the fact that we play the first leg at home for the first time. It's wrong to say that this is the biggest game we've played in ages as that is simply nonsense, but it is certainly a massive fixture in terms of whether or not Arsenal's season is over before it even gets going.
Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie are suspended following the cheating referee that we suffered in Barcelona last season. I doubt Nasri would have played anyway, and his pointed criticism of the Arsenal fans on Twitter yesterday was merely a tactic designed to make his position more untenable. He seems to be taking on the character of Adebayor at the moment so it will not surprise me to hear the same chants this evening. Frankly the sooner he goes to Manchester City the better. RVP will be badly missed, however. Marouane Chamakh seems the most likely starter in his stead but Arsene Wenger has announced that Nicklas Bendtner will almost certainly be involved in the squad tonight. It is no surprise that Bendtner is still here as nobody will match the ridiculous £50k+ per week that Arsenal pay him. Gervinho is the other option to play through the middle.
In midfield we find ourselves particularly short with Tomas Rosicky also now struggling with injury. I suspect this will mean Frimpong starting alongside Song, with Aaron Ramsey moving up the pitch to play behind the striker. Another option is for Arshavin to move inside and finally play in his favoured role with Walcott and Gervinho occupying the wide positions. Whatever the case may be Wenger has some decisions to make. Once he has made them that will be his involvement finished for the night as Pat Rice will have to manage the team this evening with Wenger banned.
I was working at Gatwick last night and met a few of the Udinese fans travelling to the match. They all seemed pretty confident in their team and most seemed to be predicting a 0-0 draw - perhaps they watched the toothless attacking display at Newcastle on Saturday. Sadly work will prevent me from going to the game tonight but I will watch is "as live" when I get home. I'll write a match review in the morning.

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