Kick-off: August 16, 2011 7:45 PM BST
After a difficult end to the season saw Arsenal drop down to 4th place in the Premier League, Arsene Wenger must rally his troops to face a tough Udinese side that are looking for their first Champions League appearance in seven years. Although Udinese have lost some of their key men over the summer, including Sanchez who made his way to the Nou Camp and Zapata, they have striker Antonio Di Natale who has been Serie A top scorer for the past two seasons.
Arsenal will be without Van Persie and Nasri as they serve their respective suspensions from the Barcelona 2nd Leg from last years Champions League competition, while Arsene Wenger will also not be present on the touchline due to his one match ban. Immense pressure is on the Gunners to make their 14th consecutive appearance in Europe’s elite competition, with only three competitive wins since February’s League Cup final horror show against Birmingham City.
Serie A is still only 2 weeks away, so questions will be asked of Udinese’s fitness levels ahead of this tough test with Arsenal, with the North London club fulfilling a successful pre-season and man-for-man will be a stronger team. With Vermaelen returning to the fold for the Gunners, their defence will have the much needed stability and brute strength that will be required against the tough Italian outfit.