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Arsenal – Braga preview (and missing apostrophes)

by Phil Gregory

Coming straight from France, the Braga preview. On y va…

The season is well and truly on now, with the return of Champions League football, missing apostrophe and all. Life is made much easier by not having to negotiate the play-off round, extra fixtures are rarely desired unless necessary, while Tottenham suffered a bit of a scare on their way to the competition proper.

We’ve got Braga, a decent enough side from Portugal who beat Sevilla home and away in the play-off round. While not the Sevilla of old, it should serve as a warning that a Braga side making their Champions League debut shouldn’t be taken lightly. With our final game coming before a trip to Old Trafford, it’s a must that we get the group tied up before then. With the final Champion League game being at home, it’d be the perfect opportunity to give the kids a run out without risking compromising the result too much.

But back to Braga.  We’re right back up at the top of the EPL Injury League, with seven absentees. We’re without Vermaelen for an as yet unspecified amount of time while Diaby is out after a horrendous challenge by Robinson.  Theo, Robin and the other long-term absentees such as Ramsey, Bendtner and  Frimpong are all out. Nasri’s back in the fold after being included on the bench against Bolton, while Denilson made his first appearance since last season against the Trotters.

Predicted line-up

Almunia

Sagna Squillaci Koscielny Clichy

Song

Fabregas Wilshere

Rosicky Chamakh Arshavin

A pair of rested fullbacks come back into the side, while the Squillaci-Koscielny partnership  continues at the back. Song shields the defence as usual, while Wilshere and Fabregas are likely starters in the central midfield roles. Rosicky goes inside right in the absence of Walcott, while Arshavin continues on the opposite flank after a hard-working display against Bolton. Chamakh plays at centre forward, looking to notch his first goal for Arsenal in Europe.

Rosicky played well for much of the Bolton game, showing a cutting edge regularly this season that we didn’t get to see much of during 09-10. The defenders, after a shaky start performed well, and it’s great to see the two at the back are so comfortable on the ball. Song impressed as did Arshavin even if the timing of his runs wasn’t the best as the game wore on.

I’m not worried about a potential upset, as I think that line-up has enough to beat Braga by a couple. I’m not convinced we’ll keep a clean sheet though I would very much like us to. Putting the game to bed in the second half would be great,  allowing us to rest some legs for Sunderland away on Saturday but most important is that we get the three points on the night.

3-1 to the Arsenal from me

Arsenal vs the Arsenalistas. Billy the Dog’s match preview and commentary on the issue of the players’ car park.

Have we really improved? An early comparison between seasons

The injury index: how Arsenal’s injuries compare with the other senior clubs?

The comparison: If injuries are bad now, was it much better in the past?  90 years ago our keeper had to play at left back with a damaged wrist.  40,000 turned up to watch.

36 comments to Arsenal – Braga preview (and missing apostrophes)

  • TommieGun

    To me that lineup looks a bit too strong. I actually worry about the trip to Sunderand more than Braga’s visit, and would play Denilson instead of Song, Vela instead of AA and maybe even give Wojcech a trial run.

    Is Djorou fit enough to play?

    Anyhow, we have to keep in mind the match Vs. the chickens on the 22nd will be the first time THEY encounter 4-fronts, so I can’t really believe ‘Arry will start his best 11 against us (as in the past few years).

    I’m very curious as to what does the Spud youth team looks like, and even more curious to see what kind of ass whoopin they’ll get from us.

  • walter

    Szczesny or whatever played with the reserves yesterday so will not be involved. The same goes for Djourou and JET. But I heard that Nordtveit might be in the squad but don’t know if this is true

  • IndianGooner

    Phil,

    I think Denilson will start ahead of lil Jack. Denilson’s interception and reading skills will be very useful against the counter-attacking Braga. These matches are for him.

    Rest of the lineup is fine unless Rosicky’s body can’t handle 3 games in 9days in which case Eboue will slot in with Nasri coming on as a second half sub for either Eboue or AA.

  • Phil

    If you start Denilson, you have to know he can do 90 minutes, otherwise you already have one of your substitutions “reserved” so to speak, which limits us in the game in terms of injuries, tactical adjustments etc. With no pre season and not even a full half vs Bolton I’m not sure he’d be fit enough to start.

    That’s not to say I don’t rate him as a player, I do. My measure of an Arsenal fan is usually done by asking them what they think of Denilson. Idiot fans usually go “rubbish, should be sold”, whereas fans worth talking to recognise his passing and reading of the game

    I also think it’s a bit too risky to be looking to rest players in the 1st game. Look what happened to United: a good start is vital so we can rest players later in the group when it’s tied up.

  • IndianGooner

    Phil,

    I feel Denilson is fully fit. He played 90mins for a reserve game last week.

  • Cape Gooner

    Although Denilson appears to have dropped below Diaby in the pecking order, I do not believe he has dropped below Wilshere; and although Rosicky has been playing very well, I do not believe he has moved above Nasri in the pecking order.

    Bolton has shown us that he is sometimes prepared to rotate. I don’t think he sees huge differences between Sagna and Eboue; between Clichy and Gibbs. I suspect that the same is true for Nasri/Rosicky and Denilson/Diaby. I have no idea what will happen when Walcott and Ramsey return. Walcott offers enough of a different threat that tactical considerations will determine when he will play. But Ramsey will sit, with Wilshere, behind a few players. Perhaps AW thinks of Ramsey as a backup to Cesc with Wilshere a backup to Song?

    We have a lot of very good players.

    Last night we (in Africa) had John Barnes as a pundit on the Champions League. He was saying that ManU do not have the depth that Chelsea has. Does Chelsea have the depth that we have?

  • Bongo

    I think the line up is spot on, although I’d prefer Vela in place of Arshavin for this one and Eboué in place of Rosicky, Rosicky in place of Wilshire.

    Vela seems to be hitting form at the moment he makes great runs and tracks back much more than Arshavin, for a counter attacking team like Braga I’d prefer his pace and tenacity to help out Clichy on the left side. Eboué is one of the best utility players I’ve seen and he would easily slot into that position, his direct runs at defenders and tireless work rate would compliment that of Vela and Chamakh. He’d also work well to break up Braga’s counter attacking style by dropping deep when Sagna moves up the wing. I think it’s important the other two players in our 3 pronged attack are workers, Arshavin is not and Rosicky has a tendency to move into a more central position. We’re going to need Chamakh fit healthy and in top form for the next couple of weeks and Vela needs to some game time. It makes sense to have some players that will take the slack and pressure off Chamakh.

    However with Rosicky and Fabregas given free roles in midfield and Song just behind them. I think Braga would see themselves up against a cray amount of through balls, cheeky passes and would be torn apart. Plus we all know Rosicky is dying to score a goal and in this position he is best placed to get that. Rosicky has a passing range just below that of Cesc but he looks to run forward a lot more than Cesc does when he’s on the ball.

  • phil

    Fair enough, I forgot about the reserves fixture. As you say, he should be fit enough to start, so perhaps he’ll get the go ahead. With us being at home, I can’t see us starting with both Denilson and Song, so I think most likely Denilson will start on the bench and come on later on to help close the game out.

    i dont see Wilshere backing Song up, I more see Denilson and Frimpong doing that role in the future. denilson has a different style, but at home where we dont need the physical edge, Denilson could do well in lieu of Song.

  • hooshi

    i,m agree with Bongo,in such a game with counter attacking style team we need kind of player that turn from attack to defense as fast as possible.
    I,d prefer
    song
    fabregas nasri
    arshavin chamakh vela

  • rusty

    Nasri didn’t turn out for the Reserves yesterday, despite not having any match time since his surgery. I think they plan to play him. I know he did a fairly good job deputizing Cesc in the leading-central-midfield role during the preseason, but have we ever seen the two of them together in the center of the pitch?

    I know Nasri has said he prefers playing centrally to playing wide in a 4-3-3, and I don’t recall seeing him or Arshavin playing wide right, so I would assume Rosicky is there.

  • anatra

    I don’t like the idea of Wilshere and Arshavin on the left at the same time. Arshavin is quite lazy tracking back at times and even though Wilshere is good, he’s still young and I wouldn’t trust him to take care of the whole left side by himself when Clichy is going forward. It wouldn’t be fair on young Jack.

  • Wrenny

    It just goes to show the depth we now have in the squad. Even with RVP, Bendtner, Walcott and Diaby out, we can still choose from five players to fill 2 positions in the team.

    Eboue, Nasri or Rosicky for the RW
    Denilson, Wilshere, Nasri or Rosicky for the CM/AM

    And let’s not forget Vela who looks to be in good form. I would actually like to see him start against Braga, and Arshavin given a rest. Asrha’s played a lot of football already this season, both for Arsenal and Russia. He could do with a break to keep him fresh going into some difficult matches in October.

  • Paul C.

    I cant see AW playing anything less than what he feels is his best side tonight. Getting that first 3 points at home is vital in a group. As Utd showed last night, you mess that up and suddenly qualification (although by no means impossible) is fraught with danger. Suddenly you’re in that position where a couple of poor results away from home can risk going through. If you win your 3 home matches you are basically assured of qualification. I think it much more likely that AW would do a little jigging of the squad in the next 2 midweek fixtures, away to Spurs in the League Cup (obviously) and away in Europe the following week.

    Win your home matches. Everything you do over the course of a season is made so much easier by winning your home matches.

  • Paul C.

    And with regards to Denilson, we still dont know if he has dropped below Diaby in the pecking order. Denilson has been injured on and off for the past 12 months (back and then abdominals) but prior to that he was 1st choice at the beginning of last season. Denilson gives you more control in possession and defensive caution, Diaby gives you the dynamism and goals but occasional mistakes in possession.

    One (or hopefully both) now has to take that next step up and solidify ALL aspects of their game in order for us to really move up another gear with our play. And if this team does find another gear, they start to move close to the Invincibles side in terms of play in my opinion.

  • Ronnie Brown

    I think Diaby is now ahead of Denilson personally, though there is room for adjustment, Diaby can have the odd injury though so they should both be able to get games, we have quite a strong squad.

    I hope we see the Denilson of old, when I first saw him he was an absloulote beast, he was and incredible tackler and was very aggresive and had a great pass, I thought he had phenomonal potential, unfortunetly for some reason later down the line he looked like a completly different player and wasn’t playing with the same passion and agression, I don’t really know what happened, maybe he got too comfortable or injuries affected him.

  • Ronnie Brown

    I really hope in the not to distant future we see JET, he is really starting to look excellent and normally always scores in the reserves, did again against Man City, he looks like he’s ready to break out, I think he’d get goals for us, is he in the squad today? If not, who is?

  • Dark Prince

    I think vela and denilson both wil start in place of song and arshavin. Song and Arshavin will be more important for d away game against sunderland. I hope we score 3 goals in 1st half and then rest players like fabregas and rosicky and give the younger players a chance to play.

    I’m predicting a 5-0 win for Arsenal!! 🙂

  • Busch

    ” IndianGooner – I think Denilson will start ahead of lil Jack. Denilson’s interception and reading skills will be very useful against the counter-attacking Braga. ”

    The same Denilson that was in our squads last season for the counterattacks from Man City, Chelsea, and United (the Rooney goal for emphasis)?

    I hope he becomes the player Wenger wants him to be, but from the experience test, counterattack defense and Denilson don’t exactly fit at this point.

    If he has to play to give Song rest, and because Diaby is injured, understandable.

  • JeromJ.

    @Rusty, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Nasri on the right wing, but its a while ago. Though I don’t recall ever seeing Arshavin there.

  • Dirk Dawson

    Hope we do well today and personally I’d like to see some of the young ones get a run out, especially JET. He looked absolutely bored with the reserves even after scoring the equalizer. Chamakh’s got a heavy burden the next few weeks with the striker injury crisis and JET seems like the kind of aggressive striker that could cause trouble against a “park the bus/quick counterattack” type team that Braga are purported to be.

    As a side note, thanks to a loyal Untold reader/commenter I have two tickets for the Carling Cup match against the Spuds which will no doubt be the highlight of my upcoming trip to England. I’m planning a stadium tour at the Emirates and a trip by the team store before heading up to White Hart Lane. Three questions:

    1. Any general advice for a novice away supporter going to the Lane? Any do’s or don’ts? The upper tier tickets came through the Arsenal allotment so I assume I’ll be sitting with other gooners.

    2. Will the team store have player specific kit in stock? I still haven’t decided who I want on which kit but I want to wear that to the match.

    3. Any advice on a pub to watch the Sunderland match? We get in in the afternoon on Saturday and will be pretty tired from the flight(s) from San Diego but I’d really like to experience the Arsenal pub culture at least, since I can’t get up to Sunderland.

    Thanks,

    Dirk

  • TommieGun

    Well you almost got it right [(Nasri ahead of the Schnizel), and obviously I flopped it 😀 ]

    Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy, Nasri, Song, Fabregas, Wilshere, Arshavin, Chamakh. Subs: Fabianski, Rosicky, Vela, Denilson, Djourou, Eboue, Gibbs.

    Cmon let’s do a Prague ….

  • walter

    Well what about that. Arsène knows who to choose and my God I cant find the words to praise THE WHOLE TEAM for such a performance. If the ref would have given the penalties we should have had we would be ending in double numbers tonight….

    What a game….

  • Corleone

    I think Braga should change their name to the Prague-alistas, poor sods :). Destruction at the Emirates on a weekday, man I love CL weeknights 🙂

  • Paul C.

    If Barca had put on that display they’d be drooling all over Europe. Could have been more.

    Wilshire.

    Fabregas.

    Arshavin.

    Chamakh.

    Too good.

  • walter

    And no Walcott, Van Persie, Bendtner, Diaby, Ramsey, Vermaelen in the squad….

    And still Rosicky on the bench….

  • Paul C.

    That’s the way you deal with a midweek fixture. Turn it into a training exercise after half an hour.

    NEXT!!!!!!!!

  • Fem Dee

    This team is great.
    Will be awesome with less injuries and more games together.
    I like our defensive plays most – having become used to strong attacking plays time and again.
    Freat, great game!!

  • Evil

    What did Wenger do with the defense? It seems like any player can slip into the center half pairing and their understand is just great. Squillaci and Kos had a good understanding on the weekend … and now that has improved even more after just three days.
    I feel that his team is destined for great things.

  • IndianGooner

    Paul C,

    If it was any of Barcaloanus\RealMad\Inter\ManIOU\Chelsh*t, the media would be drooling over it.. They are drooling over Chelsea’s 4-1 win..

    And what a performance from the lads… Still can’t believe the performance.. Love the boys..

  • Paul C.

    Saw this comment on the Guardian website. It made me smile, it did.

    “Fabregas passing to Vela instead of trying to get his first european hat trick – he is some craic. I have insane manlove. At one point I whimpered.”

    Kinda sums up the night?

  • Wrenny

    It makes you feel sorry for Rosicky though, he didn’t even get to leave the bench and join in on the goal fest.

    Vela is some finisher, another 2 goals coming on as a sub. With the Bolton strike, that’s 3 in about 40 minutes!

    It’s nice to see Almunia looking calm and composed, he didn’t have any saves to make as such but there were some dangerous crosses and high balls that he dealt with very, very well.

  • Pete The First

    Spot on! 6-0. Dark Prince can get the each way bet.

    Leave Denilson alone! You’ll only get Jonny on his back again…

  • Youssef

    One of the best performances by Arsenal in the past five years. Fabregas was simply sublime. The only thing that upset me is the lack of praise in the media. If this was Barcelona, surely all commentators and papers would be writing epics all over the news. Also, the goal Vela scored after the 24 pass move last match received no praise from the media whatsoever. I don’t know what it is that makes Arsenal so hated across Europe. Also, English commentators during the Real Madrid – Ajax match were complaining after Enoh went in on Ozil a bit roughly comparing Ajax to the Dutch team that played against Spain in the final. Had it been Arsenal that was getting knocked around, surely commentators would label them as “soft”.

    Its not like I care about what others think of our team, but it would be nice if they gave us the praise we deserve.

  • As long as the media think we are a minor team behind Barca, Tottenham, Chelsea, Real Mad, AC Milan, Man U and Liverpool (as they often seem to) we can creep up and surprise them

  • Phil

    I dislike the fact that French Tv insists on showing the french games. Had to sit through Lyon on Tues, and dint even venture to the pub yesterday as Marseilles was on. ATVO tonight for me.

  • Mark the spark

    Dirk,
    Any pub in Holloway road will give you your Arsenal pub taste.
    As for wearing team shirts to Spuds away? Errrr… no, not for me. Too many retards. 🙁