Arsenal vs Shakhtar: no messing; it’s the serious preview

Arsenal vs Shakhtar

By Phil Gregory

The first mistake most fans seem to be making in regards to this game is taking their ignorance of Eastern European’ to mean that those teams aren’t up to much.

Shakhtar aren’t a soft touch, by any means. There’s a lot of money in certain Eastern European countries, of which Ukraine and Russia are notably wealthy.  In Russia in particular, many of the club’s are sponsored by a wealthy oligarch or an oligarch-owned giant gas/oil company. That’s fed through in terms of performance, with both Zenit and Shakhtar winning the UEFA Cup (as it was known then) recently, while the former comprehensively outplayed Manchester United in the European Super Cup not too long ago.

That is to say nothing of their current domestic form: eleven wins out of thirteen matches played. With both Arsenal and Shakhtar having won both of their matches to date, the winner of this tie will be well on their way to the reaching the knock-out stage

While I can’t profess to be an expert on the nuances of Eastern European football, I do know a few of Shakhtar’s players.   Brazilian Willian is a pacey, tricky wide attacker not too unlike our own Arshavin. Douglas Costa was strongly linked with a big-money move to Manchester United after being hailed as the next big thing from Brazil.

Srna captains Croatia and can play anywhere along the right-hand side. He’s another who has been heavily linked with some big sides in the past, with Chelsea’s Eastern European connections seeing them the most commonly cited as being interested. And then of course, there’s Eduardo Da Silva.

The knock Koscielny picked up before the Birmingham game still keeps him out, while Almunia and Van Persie are no nearer a return. Walcott injured a toe in training, but is expected to be able to take part in the game.

Predicted line-up


Eboue Squillaci Djourou Clichy

Song Wilshere


Walcott Chamakh Arshavin

The injury returnees and a couple of other issues make the line-up harder to predict than normal. I’ve gone for the same back five as played against Birmingham, I can’t see why Wenger would rotate in this game and he lacks alternatives in most of the positions anyway.

I’m unsure whether Wenger will use Wilshere, either. He can select Jack if he desires (the ban only applies to domestic games) but after the controversy around  his tackle I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsène decided to take him out of the media gaze considering we have options. Much will surely depend on Cesc Fabregas. He’s been declared fully fit, and if Wenger thinks a start would do him good before playing City away, I’d expect him to come in for Jack.

Theo goes wide right in place of Nasri, to give the Frenchman a bit of a breather. Chamakh continues up top, while Arshavin completes the attack.

Getting the three points here would be excellent. It almost feels like a two-legged tie, given our next European game is against the same side. Three points here would put no pressure on us heading to the away leg, which will certainly be a tricky game.

By no means am I taking the three points tonight, Shakhtar will be a tight, tight game. As such, I’m expecting it to be decided by a single goal. Given we seem incapable of keeping clean sheets, I’m going to plump for 2-1 to the Arsenal instead of my original feeling of 1-0

33 Replies to “Arsenal vs Shakhtar: no messing; it’s the serious preview”

  1. Don`t you think Arshavin needs a breather? I actually hope Vela gets some playing time. It is time for him to start playing if he ever wants to be as good as he can be. Rosicky could also be an option there.

  2. Lol sorry but when I read this, I couldn’t really tell if you were joking when you said “Walcott injured a toe in training”. Were you being serious when you said that? Or were you joking?

  3. @ Josh,

    He was serious. He did injure his toe ;)only a small injury though, shouldn`t be much of a problem for tonight.

  4. I agree with the view that one more win more or less gives us the group, and we can then play the kiddies to our heart’s content. Better to let Vela play from the start in the remaining 3 games and get into the role, rather than worry about this one and whether the team selection is correct.

    Having thought it through I’d go for the strongest selection, without any risks to players who might not be 100% for the arabs at the weekend.

  5. I highly hope that clichy, arshavin, fabianski, diaby, fabregas and walcott are not used and are given a rest. More than this game, the game in the weekend is more important. We have to use lansbury, gibbs, vela, szczesny, JET, song, wilshere for this game. Its a home game, so we can put some faith in our youngsters to give a positive result.

    However, Fabregas and Walcot should be used as substitutes to give them some practice b4 the weekend game. We need them to be sharp against city.

  6. My line up would be
    gk- szczesny
    defence- eboue, djourou, squillaci, gibbs
    Midfield- song, wilshere, lansbury, nasri, vela,
    Attack- JET

  7. Well aint it just nice to be back playing football with a game every few days from now on till…. This is what football is all about and what being a supporter is all about. Lets just enjoy the games as they come and support the team.

    I would support any team that is put on the field and trust them to get us 3 points and from then on we can almost play the kids in the CL from then on.

    Just hope no more new injuries for the moment and for the rest of the season so that we could rotate and rest as much as we can and as is needed.

  8. Vela and Lansbury are playing for the reserves this afternoon – so some decisions already made.
    No way that Wilshere won’t play tonight and at Newcastle.

  9. my line up would be
    eboue squillaci djourou GIBBS
    song DENILSON
    rosicky VELA
    but i know its unlikely that this ll be the team to start

  10. my line up would be
    eboue squillaci djourou GIBBS
    song DENILSON
    rosicky VELA
    but i know its unlikely that this ll be the team to start
    Subs : theo,fab man,arshavin!

  11. Rosicky definitely must start the game with Diaby ,Song and Cesc ,if he lasts long enough,otherwise Nasri and Cesc can get a half each ,with the way game in Manchester this weekend very much on Arsene,s mind ?

  12. @insideright. The ban is all english competitions if i’m not mistaken. I reckon we will play a strong side with theo and cesc as subs, nasri might start and come off early. 3 points will do us good before the city game

  13. What the hell is up with Vermaelen?

    When is coming back? Is he coming back for City? We’ll need him there, one of the most important games of this season.

  14. is it jus me, or does it feel like we are very short of defenders??

    If any of eboue, djourou or squillaci gets injured then we will have big problems…

  15. Looking further ahead Jay Emmanuel-Thomas scored a hat-trick for the reserves tonight. He is too good for reserve football. He needs to play. Arshavin (and anyone else thinking about playing up-front for us) better start looking over his shoulder because Jay is really starting to come into his own.

    Vela played tonight as well. It almost seemed like it was an audition for Newcastle. Vela supposedly played okay but but missed some chances. Emmanuel-Thomas scored two absolute screamers from the accounts I read. Lansbury played well also.

    Emmanuel-Thomas/Bentnder/Lansbury up front against Newcastle?

  16. Drak Prince – no, it isnt just you. We are short of defenders. It is one of those cases where we just have to grit through it. The squad size is right. We have a player in cover at every position. Three of them are injured right now so we are short. I wouldnt mind Clichy getting a little knock to allow Gibbs into the side.

    This is a time when Eboue, Squillaci and Djourou have to show they are proper members of the first team squad.

  17. I can’t wait for the Newcastle game to see JET unleashed on the unsuspecting Geordies. He’s scored 8 goals in just 5 Reserve matches so far this season, he is a (literally) huge talent.

    I believe Lansbury will play in midfield and Vela employed in the front three against Newcastle, the right forward position Lansbury played against Spurs is not his natural domain. If Wenger decides to go with such a young side that is, perhaps the strong line-up against the Spuds was not just a one-off.

  18. 5-1

    Outstanding win. Wilshire is amazing. Truly amazing. He just needs to grow out of his “I think I will leave my studs in just here……” phase. Everything about him is fantastic.

    How nice to see Nasri, Cesc, and Chamakh all come off the pitch with 20 minutes to go.

    Will anyone else get fit for City? Kosciely or Vermaelen specifically. Squillaci and Djourou did fine, but I would want Kos and TV for the weekend.

  19. I think this was one of the most complete games I have seen from Arsenal in years. Shaktar wanted to hit us on the counter so I felt we played in a different way with a very patient game plan.
    I really was impressed by the way we played and the way the midfielders covered each other when the other went forward.
    The last 10 minutes we stopped playing and well this was understandable with a 5-0 on the scoreboard.

  20. Fantastic display! Just one thought though, are these group matches really worthy of “Champions League”? Can’t wait for the Champions League proper! Yes, yes you can rightly argue that this is proper champions league, but you know what I mean 🙂

  21. And I think the Eduardo goal will be the best received goal from an away team ever in the Emirates I think. Even I couldn’t care about that goal.

  22. Wasn’t the reaction to Eduardo’s goal fantastic. Don’t see that too often – only Tevez and West Ham spring to mind

  23. Sorry to go WAYYYY off topic but Phil, Walter etc.. Is there anyone that could explain why Lady Nina Bracewell’s share haven’t been sold?? Why are their no takers?? If no one wants to buy them are they too expensive?? Is it because there is no Dividend??. I just think it odd we never hear if they are even for sale anymore.. Sorry for being off topic… Great Result tonite thhough..

  24. Several were asked which was the best goal. personally i am going to go with eduardo’s because the was he leaned to right selling Seb the squid whilst slotting it with the left brought fond memoreies of what he used do for us before he was hacked down in his prime.
    The way he didn’t celebrate and the way the crowd did oozed class in a sport lately bereft of it.
    Great night and great win.

  25. A very good result against a very good side going forward- less impressed with their defending and keeper. We have given ourselves an excellent platform in this group. Great moment for Eduardo who showed us all again that he can finish.
    Jack Wilshere must be the best 19 year old I have seen playing in England since Ryan Giggs. Its a pity he will be missing for the City game.

  26. Goonergerrry, Jack is still only 18 years old. And he plays as if he is around for ages. The way he holds back as other go forward is so out of place for a player at his age. He has great skills and technical ability but his awareness on the field and his tactical view is really unbelievable for a player of his age.
    Can you imagine that he still only can get better in the next seasons. 8)

  27. Nice to see Wilshere has been learning from Carlos the Mexican in how to chip keepers. Worth the entry money on its own, that goal………

    Good stop from LFab at 2-0 too – sometimes that’s what changes a game.

    I was actually quite surprised at how muted the atmosphere was last night – the fans and both sets of players. It almost seemed like the game was in slo-mo. Either that or my ability to absorb atmosphere is fading away……….

    Can’t complain about 5-1 though. The guy in front of me at the bookies was collecting £800 after putting £10 on 5-0 and £10 on 5-1. Odds on 5-1 were 80-1. He wasn’t looking at a win after 70 minutes, I wouldn’t think. My winnings barely bought me a half after the game…………

  28. Rhys, the guy in front of you was Goonerholic, who says he has 810 reasons to love Eduardo today!

  29. Walter- even better- agreed he is really special- his sharp, precise passing moving into space, playing with his head up-his intelligence- I really can see a bit of Messi there- but a Messi who can tackle as well. I am amazed how quickly he has adapted to the EPL. barring injuries- he is going to be a phenomenon- a Cesc with pace!

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