Arsenal v Braga preview: I can see Wilshere, Vela and Eboue all getting the nod

Arsenal’s Champions League campaign kicks off tonight at Emirates Stadium against Portuguese runners-up Braga.

The team news going into the game is mixed: Thomas Vermaelen is still out, Abou Diaby joins him on the injury table while Samir Nasri is fit enough to start. Whether he does or not is another matter, the manager may be happy to give him another few days rest and risk any re-occurrence of the knee injury that has kept him out for a month.

Arsene Wenger rested a number of players in the weekend win over Bolton and fullbacks Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna are almost certain to return to the starting team. They will be joined in defence by Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny with Manuel Almunia sure to start in goals again.

The manager’s comments that he must not prioritise this Champions League encounter over the Premier League match with Sunderland on the weekend means there could be some interesting choices in midfield. Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Denilson are the likeliest starting trio, yet I can see Jack Wilshere given another opportunity to play in front of the home fans in a game where we should dominate possession.

Up front Wenger has little choice but to start with Marouane Chamakh, a player he has called a “really selfless team player”, with support from Andrey Arshavin, Carlos Vela, Tomas Rosicky or Emmanuel Eboue. Personally I can see Vela and Eboue given the go-ahead on the left and right respectively, with Arshavin and Rosicky in need of a rest to freshen up their minds as much as their bodies.

I must admit I don’t know much about Braga – unlike Michael Cox from Zonal Marking who appears to know everything about everyone! – but you have to think we should beat the Portuguese runners-up at home. After all, we put four past Porto in the Round of 16 last season and they finished ahead of Braga in the league and beat them 3-2 at the weekend just passed.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to watch this game – I quite inconveniently organised dinner with some friends that I simply cannot cancel on – so the match report will be coming to you from the man who dishes out the player ratings, Yemi. I’m pretty disappointed (about missing the game, not Yemi writing the match report), but I suppose it’s a small price to pay for being able to watch the games at a reasonable hour!



Have your say on Arsenal v Braga by leaving a comment.



  1. As a gunner, i can see Arsenal take an emphatic triumph over Braga. But our injury problems are my greatest fears. We have six first team players on the table. Not good at all. I also think Vela should be given a chance and also Rosicky in d midfield. The champions league is an important competition that i don’t think Wilshere should suffice until we have 3 points in the bag.

  2. i think there no more same boy in arsenal term anymore jack wilhair or no jack wilhair i beliieve arsenal will make a big subpri order term this session and win three cup. God bless nigeria and arsenal fc

  3. Arsenal is definitely going to win.i can see chamakh scoring brace with the assists from the genius himself fabregas and the lazy Arshavin.always a gunner till i die.

  4. Triffic, listen lads, I’ve got a few players that u might be interested in, they’re triffic players but I just gone and bought some more so I’ve got a few too many. One’s a great little player but I can’t seem to offload him. Keano, d’ya know im? Listen, i tell ya what, ‘ave i’m for 4 million and I’ll just take a little cut out of that, say 500 g’s? An there’s a tall lanky one, he’s good in the clouds but r not much else, ave im for 3 mill? What ya say? Gives a shout, i’m just down the road. Lovely, triffic!

  5. It doesn’t matter if Braga or Porto finished first in the league….
    We dominated Porto.Why shouldn’t also dominate Braga??
    Besides Wilshere is a very promising player and even though he’s young
    and not very experienced I still think he will do great if given a chance to play

  6. Complacency warning!!!!

    Let’s hope Arsene’s team talk isn’t along the same lines as the comments here. A team that hammer Seville and Celtic is a team to give slightly more respect to, chaps.

  7. Braga are a very interesting side….mainly padded out with Brazilian imports…the main one to watch is Felipe (a recent acquisition from Corinthians)..a very quick thinking goal keeper…has struggled recently but is due a strong game…Im hoping he ll be very busy!! (especially getting the ball out of the back of the net!!)…Also Andres Madrid (Argentinian) is a cracking player in the centre of the park…definitely important not to underestimate this side….but Im still expecting a solid Arsenal win!

  8. The reason we are winning
    Two new defenders .Our defence has completely changed
    Rosicky top form
    Wilshere a gift
    Song – flamini with strong skills
    Chamakh – Another VanPersie in structure of Adebayor
    Fabregas – injury free

    Required To win title
    Arshavin – sharp at goal
    Fabregas – injury free
    Vela – Develop into Eduardo before injury
    Walcott – Consistent and injury free
    Bendtner – Back to his form after injury
    Djourou – Back to his form after injury
    Ramsey – Back to his form after injury
    Diaby – Gel with the team
    Denilson – Confidence and roaming role
    VanPersie – injury free
    Alumnia – No foolish mistakes
    Vito mannone – Consistentcy and grab the opportunity when alumnia loses

  9. Why has no one commented on the 6-0 win so far?
    Some excellent artistry, wizardry, ruggedity and craftiness displayed this night.
    Mad stuff all the way

  10. Fantastic team performance this morning. Braga were made to look very poor by us. Chamakh is settling in really well. He is big and mobile and links the play really well and Wilshire keeps getting better. Fabregas was outstanding and his interplay with Arsh at times was brilliant to watch. Arshavin did some fabntastic things but was sloppy at times as well. Nasri was a bit disappointing but it was his firt game back after injury. But I am not convinced he plays his best when Fabregas is in the team. Can’t get too carried away. Sunderland away will be tough and we still have to play the big guns in the league. But you do get the feeling the defence is stronger and Chamakh has given us another domension up front. And no injuries!!!

  11. and it finished well Arsenal 6 – Braga 0 Chamakh, Arshavin, Vela, Nasri all looking good but best of all was Cesc Fabregas pulling strings all over the midfield and the defence on lock down. Braga is a small team but it really felt good to see the Arsenal click on all cylinders. Bring on Sunderland for the weekend. Now if only we could repeat that performance again and again and again and again….. foot ball heaven fi real!!

  12. Unfortunately I could only watch the first half of the game
    My favourite goal was Arshavin’s(Gr8 pass by Wilshere)

  13. Fantastic result. Massive game on Saturday. I’ve made the long trip twice and not seen us win. If we can beat Sunderland, a physical team, straight after a midweek game, then we really have turned a corner.

    Come on!

  14. A brilliant performance for most of that game. A possible banana skin overcome and we played some outstanding football. But Braga didn’t turn up last night. Yes, partly due to us not letting them turn up but also because they aren’t a great side. But I just really enjoyed watching sublime beautiful footy from our lads. This for me was a game to help build confidence and cohesion. I thought Wilshere and Fabregas worked well in midfield together but will young Jack be able to keep up that level for a whole season? Hope so but would be surprised if he can. Certainly if he keeps developing he is gonna be world class. It’s silly to say we should look at just this game and not relate it to our season. We are Arsenal fans, every game impacts on our season. We are not nuetrals that can just watch one game and leave it at that. The big test for this current line up is the chavs away. We certainly won’t get the same time on the ball against Essien and co in the middle as we did last night. A great result but it has to be viewed in context. We beat a team that is a couple of leagues below us in quality. We played well (brilliantly at times) but we now have to build on that and repeat it against proper quality teams.

  15. Great win,willshire and song playing deep seems to be the piece we´ve been missing rather than denilson and song,as lil jack movement going forward caused a lot of problems for braga all night,not that am taking anything away from denilson,he came in and sloted in quite fine,i even think,the competition in the midfield is gonna be a healthy one,with everyone wanting first team action ,so all of them have got to be on their game,as there´s always someone waiting to step in,all in all,great win,team seem to have improved from last season,but i´ll wait till october,to see how far we´ve really grown.

  16. Fantastic win. boy!! but am not surprised we were expected to win right.
    we’ve taking care of these teams almost every year but i’ve seen this so much before
    keep going guys lets see where we endup the fans can’t win you the title only you can

  17. so far i was impressed with the whole team as all departments clicked and the best goals last night was two goals from Mexican starlet and of Chamakh.

  18. lil Jack is also extremely fiesty on defense despite his size something Denilson has never managed to accomplish in all his time at Arsenal.. Wilshere gets my vote before Denilson.

    I can never forget the day we played Man utd and Denilson had around 25 yards ahead of Rooney on a counter, and Rooney ended up winning the ball ahead of Denilson to score a goal. I couldnt believe my eyes..He made a mockery of what a professional Athlete is.
    So for me Denilson is simply a joker, use him in different spots but he doesnt have the character to be a first teamer.

  19. Just do what i do, since games are on here at 2am most of the time i just wait until the about midday or after on the afternoon following and torrent download the entire game making sure i havent seen the scores, so i essentially watch it live 😀

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