Don’t change a winning team, Arsene

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Arsenal will prepare for their opening Champions League match against UEFA Cup holders Sevilla with the knowledge that a win will make them firm favourites to top their relatively simple group.

The clash at home to Sevilla will be followed by two much simpler games against Slavia Prague and Steau Bucherest. As a result, beating the Spanish side in Matchday One should put Arsenal well on their way to topping the group. Arsene Wenger’s defence may be reshuffled for the third match running with the suggestion that Gilberto Silva is still struggling for fitness and that Philippe Senderos will be returning from suspension.

“I have not decided [about Gilberto] yet. I will decide tomorrow but Senderos is back in the squad.”

It seems to me that Wenger favours Gilberto over Senderos in the centre-back role at this stage and is waiting on the word from the Brazilian that he will be alright. Frankly, I’m not too bothered who starts the match. Gilberto seemed tired at times against Tottenham and if he and Wenger decide he needs a rest then it will be the best decision for the team. If he feels good then I think Gilberto should start.

Another option could be that Senderos starts at the back and Gilberto pushes to the centre of midfield but I highly doubt whether this will eventuate. Wenger would be foolish to remove Mathieu Flamini from the starting team after his tigerish performances of late, and if Gilberto is too tired to play at the back then there is no way he should be playing in the midfield.

A lot of readers on the blog want van Persie dropped for the Sevilla gameVan Persie v Adebayor v Eduardo

One of the areas on the field that many readers of this blog believe should be shuffled around is the forward line. There have been a number of readers suggesting that Robin van Persie should be dropped against Sevilla to allow Eduardo da Silva to partner Emmanuel Adebayor up front. The general notion behind this is that van Persie has been struggling for form – and indeed goals – of late and that Adebayor and Eduardo have clicked quite well during the limited time they have played together.

While I can definitely see the value in playing Adebayor and Eduardo together up front I think Wenger would be unwise to remove van Persie unless he genuinely believes he needs a rest. The guy might be struggling for form a little bit at the moment but I just don’t think it would be smart to change a winning combination for the sake of it. Van Persie might not be scoring at the moment but that does not mean he is not valuable to the Arsenal cause. Indeed, most opposition sides will view van Persie as Arsenal’s best attacker and as such, he commands a lot of attention from his direct opponents which allows his teammates to capitalise.

I’m very open to the idea of Eduardo and Adebayor having an opportunity to work on their partnership, but the opening game of the Champions League is not the time for experimentation. As I mentioned before, three points will put Arsenal well on their way to finishing top of the group and avoiding the bigger clubs in the second round. Baring this in mind, I am hoping and expecting that Adebayor and van Persie start together up front.

The recent death of Antonio Puerta will have an affect on the gameExpect the unexpected

Moving the focus to Arsenal’s opponent for a moment, there is no doubt that Sevilla will prove as tough a proposition as the boys have had to face this season. Adebayor mentioned yesterday that every game so far this season is like a new test and the game against Sevilla will be no different. The UEFA Cup holders are a fanastic side who love to play good football so the game should be quite enjoyable to watch. Indeed, Sevilla possess quality all over the park, from goalkeeper Andreas Palop right up to eccentric striker Frederic Kanoute. When you throw in guys like Daniel Alves and Christian Poulsen as well as the much underrated Renato you start to realise just how difficult the game is going to be for Arsenal.

There is also the issue of the recent death of Sevilla player Antonio Puerta. The young Spaniard would surely be making his Champions League debut against Arsenal if it wasn’t for his unfortunate death, and the jury is still out on how his tragic death may affect his teammates or indeed, their opponents. Spanish journalist Inigo Gurruchaga has commented that there is different mood in the Sevilla camp as a result of the death and that it might spell trouble for Arsenal.

“There has been a certain seriousness about the players and when I saw them beat Huelva at the weekend the team didn’t show they were in mourning. They were clinical, it was a very impressive display, despite having the Puerta tragedy hanging over them. They have played very consistently and played very high-quality football.”

Despite this, I am confident that Arsenal can do the job against Sevilla. The boys are in such great form at the moment and a win over the Spanish will not only move them closer to qualification from the group stages, but also ensure that confidence remains high. I feel that Robin van Persie needs a big match to silence his recent critics and I think he will provide that, grabbing a goal or two in what should prove to be an exciting match. 2-1 Arsenal, and plenty of attacking football to be on show.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal’s big clash against Sevilla by leaving a comment.


30 thoughts on “Don’t change a winning team, Arsene

  1. just 2 transfer interests: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wants to sign 19-year-old midfielder Diego Capel from Sevilla for £8m. (Daily Mirror)

    Talented 17-year-old Nigerian Macauley Chrisantus is set to snub Tottenham for Premier League rivals Arsenal. (The Sun)

  2. Arsenal to win 3 – 1. I agree with your analysis Spanish Fry but Arsenal play as a team and you never know which player will be on top today with the likes of Rosicky, adebayor, RVP, Eduardo, fabregas, Clichy, sagna……etc. These guys are just pure class. We expect a definite win.


  3. About 10 fans – All Arsenal Fans filling my Living room. ARSENAL HAS MORE SUPPORT HERE BECAUSE OF THE TYPE OF FOOTBALL THEY PLAY. NO ONE IS COMPARABLE TO THEM – May be Barcelona buit let’s see if Sevilla can match us today. The support Arsenal has here is just awesome. These guys watch Spanish, Italian and French leagues and know that this is ARSENAL’S time ( Especially in English Premier and Champions League ). We have the quality and may be Wenger will only buy One or Two players during the transfer period. These players may likely be 17/18 or 19 yrs of pure class. Talk of Crisantus of Nigeria etc


  4. Arsenal has an amazing support here in Kenya, I guess more than 500,000 supporters, even in the remotest towns near the Maasai Mara. When a Manu/Arsenal are playing, you will need to book for a seat 2-4 hrs before, otherwise you will miss the match.

  5. Pay TV companies like DSTV and GTV have popularised the game here in Kenya. Dubai being a stone throw away for most kenyans doing business like me we have access to all these channels and watch any game we want. GTV currently has 80% rights to air EPL games whereas DSTV the former EPL giant has only 20% of the rights to air these games. GTV currently is spreading it’s wings throughout Africa.

    Entertainment business especially in Sports can really reap you good profits in Africa.



  6. its gonna be 3-1 to arsenal today.Trust me guys, we are going to silence sevilla..they seem to be overconfident.Thats what i like,that gives us morale to go for the whole chicken.

  7. I don’t think Sevilla are being over-confident. After the tragedy of Antonio Puerta I think they would be the last team to be overconfident. Everything that Juande Ramos and the players have said about Arsenal has been very respectful. However, I hope your prediction is true. I’m thinking more like 2-1 though.

  8. ArsenalKenya – Make sure you remind your friends who support Chelsea that they could only draw with little Rosenborg last night. That should shut them up. Have a good one enjoying the game with your friends. If you take some photos or anything be sure to let me know and I’ll pop them up on the Flickr Community. Cheers.

  9. I don’t think Arsene Wenger will drop Robin Van Persie to the bench he might leave that for the weekend.
    I would not like to see Eduardo start tonight,Van Persie will more than likely start with Eduardo coming on for 20mins or so,as I think he will start Eduardo for the Derby match this weekend.In all seriousness it will be an exciting game for sure and I think 3-0 to Arsenal.

  10. Hang on SF i agree with arseneboy, sevilla are being overconfiedent and it angers me saying things like ” we are going to show tottenham how to beat arsenal “. Thats why i want to crush them 4-0 or 4-1 just to shut them up.

  11. I think Rockin’ Robin may sit out against Derby (may even see Bendtner start) but not tonight, our first CL is very important, especially after Puerta and what happened to British teams last night.

  12. Hi Gooners,
    I am a stunge Arsenal fan from Nigeria.I can not wait for the match tonight.It is going to be pure football. I advise Wenger to shift Gilberto to mid-field in order to allow fabregas roam upfront.The streets of Lagos will be empty to day because there are over 40 million Arsenal fans in Nigeria.Simply because of the kind of football they play. Moreso chelsea fans are made up of Arsenal fans that could not stay with the club after the FA cup thriumph.I have friends in Kenya and all they love is formula 1 and cricket. Good to know that other kenyans love not just football but Arsenal.My prediction is 2-1.Sevilla are one of the best sides in Europe.

  13. I am an arsenal fan from India. Hope tonights match would be real feast for the football luvers like me…Kanoute, Navas and Alves should be given proper treat from Arsenals…

  14. Arsenal 3-0 Sevilla, what a game!!
    OG or Fabregas not sure rele
    Eduardo – last minute
    great game, great start, top of both tables, go gunners!

  15. Watching the Arsenal game,something real different about them this year.I am really impressed,anyone else agree.I cann’t really see Chelsea getting past Arsenal this year.I think we are gonna surprise a lot of people and battle for the title this year.I can see Arsenal finishing 1st or win the champion league.
    One thing is for sure our style of play won’t change no matter who plays.
    The best bit for me is that they are still so young so we should hopefully have a quality squad for quite a few years.
    Arsenal look amazing!!!!!!!!!

  16. They look pretty good at the moment certainly. A clean sheet against Sevilla is definitely a good thing. I’d like to see Van Persie rested against Derby and give the Eduardo/Adebayor combo a go up front. It’ll probably be a scrappy game anyway, which would suit that pair perfectly. On another note, Flamini looks pretty undroppable.

  17. another terrific game last night… the boy is mature enough this season… what can i say.. fabregas is unstoppable now..

  18. The mighty Gunners,
    I got the Arsenal-Sevilla predictions correct,I said we will win 3-0.
    Arsenal are a great side,the more we score the happier we are,and for as long as we rotate the scoring like that,we are set for real honours.
    I am so impressed with this team.This is how you play against a good side,Keep them thinking and guessing.

  19. With the gunners easing passed Sevilla 3-0 you would have thought that all the papers and the media would be like :The gunners are unstoppable ” but no its all about bloody Mourinho. Also when we won in the north london derby to go top nothing was sed about how good the team was to win 3-1 after goin behind and going top of the prem, it was about chelsea and liverpool, it really angers me, we are playing the best football and are atm the best team in england, what more do we have to do to get some media attention.

  20. Jay – I have two things to say about this. One, is that Jose Mourinho’s exit is absolutely massive. Much, much bigger than Arsenal winning topping the table. The second thing is that the media being off Arsenal is a good thing. It means that when the losses come – and make no mistake, there will be losses – the headlines won’t be too harsh. The longer we stay ‘unknown’ the better, in my opinion.

  21. SF- I see your points but the media will only make arsenal big when we lose. I mean winning 3-1 against our biggest rivals, and losing 1-0 at HT. PLUS scoring goal of the season s ofar, you would have thought we would have got some recognition. Then when we outplay sevilla and crumble them 3-0, its all Mourinho. I agree the news is shocking and massive but there are about 100 stories about his sacking/resignation. Do you see where i’m coming from?

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