Udinese (0) v Arsenal (1) 1st Leg aggregate shown in brackets
Kick off: Wednesday 24th August 2011, 19:45 BST
It’s been a tough start to the season for the Gunners, after two Premier League games they have yet to score and are loosing players rapidly to injury, while others have left, with not many reinforcements heading to North London. Although Wenger was supposed to received a two-match ban from the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body, due to the appeal process the ban has been postponed which will be a welcomed boost to the team.
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Djourou returns to the squad, as does Traore, finally giving Wenger more options in the defensive department. Rosicky is fit to play however he is unlikely to start. Wilshere is to be missing for the next two to three weeks, while Koscielny has missed the trip to Italy, but may feature against United this weekend, and Samir Nasri will not feature as he has stayed behind in London to finalize his departure to Manchester ‘Moneybags’ City
Udinese were strong in the first leg, and will be looking to turn the table at home this Wednesday. One goal will be enough to give the visitors a huge advantage, while a clean sheet from Udinese stopper Handanovic will help Udinese immensely in their quest to qualifying for only their second Champions League competition. The Slovenian Goalkeeper was in fine form in the first leg, preventing Arsenal from getting any further advantage.
Udinese captain and star player Antonio Di Natale will once again play a lone role upfront, with the midfield foursome of Isla, Pinzi, Asamoah and Armero all looking to get forward and support him. The Italian outfit are blessed with no injuries to their first XI, and they will certainly be up for it. A defeat for the Gunners here will mean not only the loss of £25m in Champions League profits, but also an end to a 14 year streak under Wenger’s command and it will create an even new low for the North London club.
Arsenal – L W D L D
Udinese – L W D W W
“What is at stake at the moment is for us to qualify tomorrow and we can only do it with the players we have at the moment,”
“They are good enough to achieve that and therefore after that we will see what we can do. We are working very hard on the transfer market.
On team news:
Rosicky is in the squad, he’s available, he had a test this [Tuesday] morning. We don’t know whether he will be fit to start but he is in the squad. Djourou and Traore are back as well. Alex Song and Gervinho are back from suspension. Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Frimpong are available too.
on Jack Wilshere:
Unfortunately Wilshere is not ready so that is bad news for us and adds to the players we miss with transfers and some through injuries. Of course at the moment the squad is short.
on Laurent Koscielny:
Koscielny is out but he has a chance to be fit to face Manchester United.
on Nasri’s depature:
“Samir trained on Tuesday morning, But I knew before training. He didn’t know, the decision was made this morning just before training. He came in to practice.
“I don’t question Samir Nasri’s commitment or professionalism. If I told him ‘you come with us and play’, he would have played like he did on Saturday but you wonder what kind of a commitment you can have.
“Football rules are made like that, that the player can be worth a lot of money today and nothing in six months so it doesn’t look completely logical but, at the end of the day, of course, we are forced into a decision like that for psychological and financial reasons.
“I am a realist so I have no illusions. It’s part of the modern life of a professional football player. It’s not that by coincidence that everybody suddenly lands at Man City.
“We did not want to lose Fabregas, but we were forced into a situation we didn’t want. Nasri is a situation where the player didn’t want to extend his contract with the proposals he had somewhere else. What kind of commitment can you have when the player is not there long-term? That is the question you have to answer.”
allArsenal’s men to watch:
Arsenal – Robin Van Persie: The Gunners number one striker and captain has yet to score this season, but he will keen to do so against a resilient Udinese defence. He missed the first leg due to suspension, and he will be a huge threat on Wednesday.
Udinese – Di Natale: Despite hitting the woodwork twice in the first leg, Arsenal managed to escape Di Natale’s goal scoring prowess, but he will be back for more and will look to get on the scoresheet in a match where Udinese will be searching for an equalizer early on.
allArsenal’s formation pick:
Sagna Djourou Vermaelen Traore
Walcott Van Persie (c) Gervinho
Rosicky returns from injury, Van Persie is returning from suspension, Djourou and Traore are also back as well. Alex Song and Gervinho only have suspensions to serve in the Premier League so they return to the fold aswell. The big question lays who will play in the middle with Song and Ramsey after Nasri’s departure, we are predicting Frimpong as he will add defensive stability to the midfield and aggression, while also adding another competent passer and dribbler into the mix.