Which are the best games of the season? Well, to me they have always been the Autumn midweek night games. The games start in sunshine and finish under floodlights, it is early season so the fans are excited, the team has gone through pre-season and are all fit and raring to go. These are nights that live long in the memory.
Yet tonight, despite this being Arsenal’s opening home match, there are ripples, no waves, of discontent and difficulty. The fans are unhappy, the team is torn apart by injury and doubt, grey clouds are expected over the Emirates. It is in this context that Udinese arrive at THOF to try and knock us out of the Champions League.
Much has been written about the glass half empty/half full performance at St. James. I prefer to concentrate upon the positives – a solid defensive performance and a midfield that controlled the game. We looked under-par in the offensive aspect of the game but surely with the quality we have that will come.
Udinese:. I know little about them but Italian teams are always good, well trained, difficult to break down and almost always a threat. Udinese will be no different despite losing their 3 best players this summer. Sanchez, Inler and Zapata all moved on which will make Udinese a different proposition to the team that finished 4 th in Italy. Sanchez, in particular, will be missed; voted best player in Italy last season he was sold to Barca for over €30m. Yes, we know that pain!
Udinese have only played English opposition once – they beat Spurs 2-0 in 2009 🙂 This is their first CL campaign having had the best season in their recent history. In Di Natale they have last season’s top scorer in Italy (29 goals – 59% of Udinese’s goal tally!), though the loss of Sanchez and Inler will surely affect his supply line.
You know the tale of woe emanating from the Emirates. Cesc gone, Nasri and RvP suspended etc etc. Despite this, we remain a top European act and have enough strength in depth to win the tie tonight. Much will depend on the efficiency of the attack and for this reason it is a big night for the front 3. Without any real creativity in midfield they will have to start creating their own opportunities, in particular I would to see Chamakh return to the player we saw at the beginning of his AFC career.
My team: (assuming a fit Rosicky)
subs: 7 chaps.
I really hope AW has enough faith to go at Udinese from the start and play a proper 4-3-3 rather than rely on a deep-lying Arshavin, but he has almost always chosen a cautious approach to the first legs of games so I wouldn’t be shocked to see AA start in place of Theo.
We have yet to lose or even draw a CL qualifying game, having won all 8 played. Tonight should see us continue this excellent run.
Udine is a small town (175,000) near Venice in the Fruili region, famous for it’s wonderful wines. Bruno Sacco was born in Udine; the head designer of Mercedes Automobiles for over 30 years. He was voted one of the 25 most influential car designers of the 20th century and as an ex-Merc man (an old 500 SL) I can testify to his achievements.
written by BR