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.
Sagna Squillaci Koscielny Clichy
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.
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.
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