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Standard Liege v Arsenal: form, injuries, key players, line-ups

Editor’s note:  this article was forwarded by Phil to Untold Arsenal yesterday, before the extent of the injury list was fully known.  Since the article was written we’ve heard that Van Persie is out injured.

Standard Liege v Arsenal: form, injuries, key players, line-ups

By Phil Gregory.

Standard Liege, Belgian champions for the last two seasons, are Arsenal’s first opponents in Group H.

Many disregard Standard as a credible threat, but they were arguably the strongest team in pot four after German champions Wolfsburg.   Anybody still holding perceptions of a walkover should cast their mind back thirteen months to when Standard were held to a draw at home against Liverpool despite dominating.

Fellaini hit the inside of the post early on, and Liege had a penalty saved after a Dossena handball. Liverpool ultimately scraped through with a Kuyt winner in extra time at Anfield, but fans and pundits alike agreed Standard were the better side over the two legs of the qualifying tie.

If you followed the Confederations Cup during the summer you will be pleased to know that US international Oguchi Onyewu no longer plays for Standard, having signed for Milan on a free during the summer.

Recent form:

Ten points from six games in the Jupiler league, including four draws, is an unimpressive start though it would be a mistake to underestimate Standard. No doubt they themselves will be citing two consecutive Arsenal losses as a reason to be confident.

Injuries:

Club captain and star player Steven Defour is out injured for the entire group stage, though Axel Witsel is likely to feature as his ban only covers domestic matches.

Key men:

Our leaky defence, which hasn’t kept a clean sheet since Celtic away, will be up against Serbian international Milan Jovanovic who boasts five goals already this season. Jovanovic put in a stellar performance against Everton during last season’s UEFA cup, with Standard winning 2-1 at home after Everton grabbed a 2-2 draw with a late goal at Goodison.

Eduardo’s successful appeal will mean he is likely to be playing against Axel Witsel, recipient of an eight match ban for a horror tackle on Polish right back Marcin Wasilewski. Witsel, who has been heavily linked with the star clubs of Europe, is likely to play a holding role for Standard.

Arsenal predicted lineup:

Mannone

Sagna Vermaelen Gallas Clichy

Song

Fabregas Diaby

Bendtner Van Persie Eduardo

Subs: Szczseny, Silvestre, Eboue, Rosicky, Ramsey, Watt, Wilshere.

I genuinely can’t see Wenger wanting to make as many changes as he has been forced to.   Despite recent criticism, Almunia is clearly our best goalkeeper and is a big loss.

Diaby will most likely slot back into midfield as Denilson’s replacement, with doubts remaining over Ramsey’s ability to cope with the pressure of big away games.

Rosicky is unlikely to be risked as a starter but  expect another cameo appearance from the Czech playmaker if we need a goal. Eduardo will likely slot in wide if Wenger decides to stick to 433.

Another option of course is switching back to 442, with a midfield of Bendtner wide right, Song and Fabregas in the middle and Diaby wide left as we saw at times last season, as the 433 could be argued to be a little light defensively for a tricky away game.

Prediction:

Tricky. I’m going to be optimistic and plump for 2-1 to the Arsenal.

It’s not convincing by any means, but I think this is a harder game than United’s at Besiktas I don’t feel confident in us keeping a clean sheet, though they are going to find it harder to create without Defour. Hopefully with Song having been substituted last game he’ll be fit to put in a hardworking 90 minutes which will be key.

The bench offers options offensively, so don’t panic if we’re still level as the game goes on.  We are all very keen to see a reaction after the recent forays to Manchester, but we’re more likely to see that against poor old Wigan at home.

An alternative version of events by the attendants at All Tomorrow’s Parties will appear on Wednesday afternoon (UK time).

6 comments to Standard Liege v Arsenal: form, injuries, key players, line-ups

  • walter

    I am doing a last bit of work for the moment and in an hour I go home and prepare myself for the trip to Liège (or Luik as it is called in dutch).
    For Gooners from England travelling with there car when you drive in Flanders you will have to follow direction Luik, sorry for that but we are a funny little country which has 2 names for several citys.
    So we will be joining the away gooners in Liège this afternoon and hope that we can help to build up a great atmosphere to help our players.
    Both teams a bit hit by injuries at late so intresting to see how the subs do the job.
    Must say our injury list is big for the moment: Almunia, RVP, Arshavin, Nasri, Denilson that alone are 5 players who would have been on the pitch anyday. Will this ever stop ?
    Hope to see a glimps of Rosicky at some stage cause I really love the way he plays. The same for Wilshere.

  • Faron

    I’m gonna go for 1-3 with one of the subs scoring near the end.

  • ivor

    can some explain to me why Aw keeps
    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS … although the start of this email is different, the body of it was the same as one by steveyj on another site, and we don’t allow copying here.

  • richard

    I actually think the whole…

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS
    this post was from (or at least contained bits from) Online Gooner. So not allowed here. Sorry.

  • Casicky

    Arsenal does this to me,Monday i was still seething and told myself i would blog for at least three weeks and here I am few days later BLOGGING.
    Injuries are munting and dont know whether my beloved Arsenal can still mount a challenge of any sort anymore but i will play the predict the team game anyway.
    i think we will be more like this
    ___________Mannone
    Sagna__Gallas__Verma__Clichy
    ____________Song____________
    _______Cesc_______Diaby_____
    Eboue_________________Bendt52
    __________Eduardo___________

    3-1 to us

    VCC

  • LRV

    Here is hoping that today goes without too much drama. At the end of today I hope that we can celebrate with joy. Let’s also hope that we do not have any more injuries.