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Udinese Preview: We’re looking short already 16 August, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

Tonight is the inconvenient yet incredibly important Champions League qualifier. We haven’t had any problems with this fixture in recent years racking up aggregate scores of 5 or 6 goals but if we did ever come unstuck it would be a disaster to go out at this stage. In a period where we need to be attracting some big talent to the club, if the lure of Champions League football is not there we will struggle to make any strong additions.

Udinese could prove to be one of our tougher qualifiers, they’re a decent side finishing 4th in Italy last year and they have Di Natale who was top scorer in Serie A last season. We will still go into this match as favorites but Udinese will be no walkover.

We could talk about their strengths and weaknesses but I’m a little bit worried about the state of our own side. We’re missing a fair number of vital names and I’m just got my fingers crossed that we can cope without them.

Obviously, we’re without Fabregas (I must make note of not saying this again), van Persie and Nasri are suspended, Wilshere and Diaby are injured and Rosicky will face a late fitness test. To add to that Wenger also has a touch-line ban meaning he will undoubtedly move from the bench to two rows behind with the fans in Block 1. It’s still an inconvenience though, it means he can’t stand there arms folded glaring when we’re not doing well.

Those handful of players missing illustrate just how thin this squad is. Without Robin we’ve got Chamakh, Gervinho or even Bendtner who need to perform through the middle. Chamakh hasn’t really impressed that often since his run of form around this time last year, Gervinho obviously has just joined and we can’t rely on him yet and Bendtner has had one foot out the door all summer.

Also with Wilshere, Nasri, Diaby and potentially Rosicky out it means the midfield will have to be three of Song, Ramsey, Frimpong and Lansbury. We really need reinforcements in this area. Hopefully Wenger will be working on bringing in a midfield replacement in the next two weeks because that is a very light looking midfield indeed.

What worries me more though is come the weekend you can add Song and Gervinho to that list of absentees, as they’re both banned from the incidents at St. James’ Park. Wenger says a lot of crap but when he says things like ‘this squad is massive’ it infuriates me. Hopefully it’s just part of the spew he dishes out to the press because we have far from a ‘massive’ squad. Hopefully we can get through these next few games with what we have while we look to bring more men in.

All this goes without saying that Wilshere could be ‘Vermaelened’. Every limb in my body is crossed that this is not the case.

So with that, here’s how I think we will line up tonight:

Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c) – Gibbs
Song – Lansbury
Walcott – Gervinho – Arshavin

With that team we could have Song playing his normal defensive midfield role, Lansbury providing the bridge between defending and attack and Ramsey playing that ‘Cesc role’ (another term that needs to be eradicated) that he did rather well in against Man United last season. Up front a lot of people are predicting Chamakh at centre forward but I think it might be Gervinho. The way Wenger has been talking him up suggests he rates him a lot and with his three match domestic ban coming up he might as well play him now and not worry about having resting him.

I’ve gone for Vermaelen as captain and I hope that is the case for the coming season. I’m fairly confident that van Persie will be handed the armband but I’d like to see Belgian take the position. We’ve been missing a captain with his attitude for a long time and I’d hope that his presence in that position could inspire the team in games which we start to lack focus and commitment. As I said I still think it’ll be Robin but I’d like to see Wenger surprise a few people and pick Thomas.

Edit: Robin van Persie named new Arsenal captain. No surprises there then, Wenger says Vermaelen will work with hi as his vice and I guess everyone can be leaders on the pitch they don’t need to wear the armband. Good luck to Robin, he is a proper Gooner after all.

As worried as I am about our squad, I think we should be good enough to get a result tonight – especially at home. A goal, or two or even three would be great but we need to make sure we don’t concede. That defence did well against Newcastle at the weekend so I trust them to give another solid display tonight. I haven’t mentioned the defence in this post because we have no injuries to the first choice pick but if you think about it there’s no one behind them really. Wenger really needs to get spending, and quick. So many departments need addressing it’s rather worrying. However as he would say, the time now is to focus on the upcoming game and not potential ins and outs.

I’m looking forward to my first competitive game back at the Emirates tonight. There were some bad memories there last season but hopefully I’ve left those behind with my old seat and a change of scenery might bring around a change of fortune. I’m in Block 6 nowadays and I’m looking forward to a bit of sing-song later on, but wherever you’re sat whether it be around the stadium, at the pub or at home get behind the boys because this game is hugely important.

Thanks for reading. Come on Arsenal!


1. Tom Haskins (@ThomasOutram) - 16 August, 2011

Isnt Gervinho banned??

2. Tom Haskins (@ThomasOutram) - 16 August, 2011

Sorry my bad – domestic ban…

3. Sebastian - 16 August, 2011

I am so upset at how this has all happened, when it was all so avoidable.

I think we need some upfront and calm honesty, and say that team just isnt good enough to win anything. not even close.

I’ll start with the player that pretty much sums that up. Gibbs.

I dont care how patriotic you are, or how much you love Arsenal, he is not good enough to start for Arsenal this year. Fact. Clichy wasnt brilliant, but he was better than Gibbs, so that is an area we are definately worse than last year. How is that acceptable? he wouldnt get in Man Utd’s team, Chelseas team, Liverpool, City, AC Milan, Inter, Real, Barce, Munich, so why is he playing for us? (personally, I rate Traore above him)

Secondly, Lansbury. Do me a favour. He was playing for Norwich last year, and didnt even start every game for them. Quite frankly our squad is currently a joke. Even the likes of Wilshire and Ramsey, very good players, but I can tell you right now, they are not good enough YET to drive the club forward and will win us sod all.

I’m not even fussed about buying a CB, but we need 2 creative midfielders to replace Cesc and Nasri, and we need a striker. RvP is banned for 1 match, and look how desperate we already look.

We dont have any players!! The season has already started, and we have no players. Only at Arsenal.

What makes my blood boil more than anything else is that the players we bring in wont be as good as the ones we’ve let go. Meaning we will definately be worse than we were last year. I championed Wenger for years even though he’s been getting stick, but being an honest fan, there is only so long this can go on for. To the rest of the world, we completely lack any ambition. I’m embarrassed.

4. Sebastian - 16 August, 2011

Tonight i’d go with:

Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c) – Traore
Song – Ramsey
Walcott – Chamakh – Gervinho

5. eli - 16 August, 2011

better be!!!!!

6. Brendan - 16 August, 2011

Sebastian: Very well written. It sums up my feelings. I just don’t know what to say. It is very clear what they need to do and they aren’t making an effort. If the board makes an effort, then i am fine with that. But, they aren’t making an effort. I hope we can try out Arshavin in the playmaker role. I think he would be good. Only problem is, I think that Wenger will play Rosicky. Hopefully, that is only to rest Arshavin for Liverpool and Man U game.

Sebastian - 16 August, 2011

Its just so frustrating. I love Arsenal and always will, I will always cheer the boys on no matter who is wearing the kit, but the fact is, we have the resources to make Arsenal a better team than we currently are, yet for one reason or another, the manager/board choose not to. It really baffles me. Replacing your best players with worse players…makes you worse.

Still, its not the current players fault that Wenger hasn’t bought better ones, so lets cheer on the boys tonight and pray we get a result.

Brendan - 16 August, 2011

I am in total agreement with you. I love Arsenal and will always stand by them. But what hurts me more than anything is that we HAVE the resources and we HAVE what it takes to be competitive yet have a solid future, but we don’t seem to be doing anything. If we lose our best players, we need to spend all that money. And if we do, we would actually be better off since Fabregas was injured half of the last two seasons and Nasri is relatively easy to replace since he was a four month wonder. But, instead we use our back ups to replace our best players. We spent 6 years doing that after our Invincibles team dismantled. And now, right as they are maturing, we have to reset and start again…It is frustrating. THAT bench we had on Saturday was embarrassing. Our usual Carling Cup bench is stronger. I live in Hong Kong. I wake up in the middle of night to watch Arsenal play. It hurts me that the whilst the direction Arsenal needs to take is so clear, we are not taking these simple steps. But, if you put yourself in Fabregas’ shoes and Nasri’s shoes. You would do exactly the same. That’s why I have so much respect for Wilshere and RVP. I was nervous going into the Newcastle game. It’s not that we are superior to Newcastle. But it’s the fact that we have the capacity to expand but don’t that frustrates me…I love Arsenal, but I just want the board to do what’s best for the club as they have done in the past…

7. Jenson - 16 August, 2011

Sebastian – You couldnt be more right, very well summed up. Last year Wenger said we would alter the squad to push for the title, instead we have weakened and I genuinely think that finishing in the top 4 will be a real struggle, and winning the title is a write off.

As much of a dick head as he is, I can see why Ashley Cole left now, he knew we werent going to win anything. Hleb also did the same, Adebayor, Henry, Fabregas and soon to be Nasri. Clearly the players know that we just are not geared to winning things.

How long until RvP and Wilshire realise the same? It really worries me.

8. collins - 16 August, 2011

All go for this as the best today nd confident Arsenal will go thru:

Szczesny, Sagna, Gibbs, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Djorou, Song, Ramsey, Walcot, Arshavin, Gervihno

9. Nick - 16 August, 2011

Like all true Arsenal fans, I will support the boys no matter what. All the In’s and Out’s talk is very frustrating, especially when considering the seeming lack of intent by Wenger and the board. While I do appreciate the fact that “we” like to do business silently, especially since it seems everyone we target ends up being targeted after the fact by Manure, Spuds, Chelsea, Liverpool, etc and then Barcelona claim a “right” to them (sorry I’m bitter and hate the Catalan diving crybabies). So in a sense I do appreciate trying to fly under the radar. But the fact that so many fans are feeling cheated and becoming disenfranchised with the dealings of the club, a true statement of intent should and “needs” to be made. Arsenal need to show they are serious and not in a “We’re keeping Nasri now and he can leave next year if he wants” type of way. It’s a “We are buying player X, he’s who we want, need and we are buying him, up the bids as needed, etc!” and there in lies the rub.

Fact: Players, especially “big name/money” players right now see us and we are not an option because of our lack of intent. It’s why players are leaving instead of staying with renewed more more money/better term contracts. Campbell may come in because he’s more likely to play for us than he would at Manure. Big name players want CL football and when we’re on the verge of not making the group stages because we lost the plot last season, didn’t finish second in the league as we should have (never mind should have won the league) and still haven’t bolstered the squad in the critical areas where it’s needed and provided proper back-ups for when the injuries start to pile up (like they always do at Arsenal). Whether it be from exhaustion or an Italian friendly, our players drop like flies when sent away on an international break.

I have all the faith and belief in Arsenal but there comes a time when you have to say “Show me something” and the people who are supposed to be listening need to respond.

10. Martin - 16 August, 2011

Do you think the outcome of this match will decide our season? Will our “lesser/weakened” squad provide hope if they win?

11. bob mcnabs cat - 16 August, 2011

We are where we are and going over what we all know is frankly pointless.

I am one of Wengers biggest critics and still think we will not win anything with him in charge but hey, i support the team and am 100% behind the boys. Its going to take a mammoth effort to come out of our next four fixtures unscathed but hopefully with a little luck and possibly a couple more signings we can do it.


12. bob mcnabs cat - 16 August, 2011

…….by the way, Campbell will be a great signing, he has confidence,ability and a real eye for goal. At last we have got someone who can take a free kick. I for one hope he is fast tracked into the 1st team squad.

One niggling doubt is that he too sees us as a shop window but lets enjoy him whilst we can. He will definately add a bit of variety to our team.

13. Seng Kiat (@SKLee) - 16 August, 2011

Walcott centre and Gervinho on the right for me.

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