Shakhtar Donetsk v Arsenal Preview: Fringe players looking to impress

It’s a very late preview of the Shakhtar game today and I have to apologise for that. Better late then never though, I hope.

Tonight’s team will be much changed from the one that snuck a late win against West Ham. Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Denilson and Andrey Arshavin are all out with injuries (although Arsene Wenger’s use of the word “virus” to describe Arshavin’s problem could be rephrased as “dropped”) which will leave a similar team to the one that started in the Carling Cup a week ago.

Djourou, Wilshere, Bendtner, Walcott and Eastmond could all start tonight

Lukasz Fabianski is expected to start in goals, although there is no certainty, while the back four could see some changes. Our first-choice combination is Bacary Sagna, Sebastien Squillaci, Laurent Koscielny and Gael Clichy although it would be no surprise to see Wojciech Szczesny, Emmanuel Eboue or Johan Djourou get a start.

In midfield Jack Wilshere will return after a three-game absence and will likely be joined by fellow youngster Craig Eastmond in the holding role. Tomas Rosicky should play as the one true creative midfielder behind a front three of Samir Nasri on the left, Nicklas Bendtner in the centre and Theo Walcott on the right.

We may have beaten Shakhtar 5-1 at home just a fortnight ago but expectations of a repeat scoreline on their home turf, with this starting team, would be extremely optimistic. Indeed, the Ukrainian champions will give us a much better run for money at home and I have to say I would be somewhat surprised to see us come away with a victory.

Our defence is currently on a run of three consecutive clean sheets and given the return of Wilshere in the middle and the continuation of a strong back four, I hope we can make it four. Fabianski is in good form and the good communication between him and Squillaci, Koscielny and Djourou has been a great feature of the last few games.

Shakhtar failed to trouble us at all at The Emirates but with Eduardo expected to start they will be much more attacking. The advantage of having Walcott back in the side is the danger we will possess on the break and it wouldn’t make me unhappy to see Shakhtar have more of the ball. Bendtner and Walcott combined to devastating effect against Newcastle a week ago and if they can find the same combination then we will have chances to score.

After a run of rather interesting games I have to say I’m not too concerned or excited about tonight. Regardless of the result we should top the group while qualification looks a formality.

In saying that, the inclusion of several fringe players in the starting line-up should make things interesting. The likes of Walcott, Bendtner and perhaps Djourou (if he plays) will no doubt want to impress to put the pressure on their direct competitors. Arshavin beware, I say.

Anyway that’s really it. Apologies again for the lateness of this preview and enjoy the game!


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



  1. I am really hoping to see Szczesny in goal.If it is true what the papers are saying about him wanting to leave if he doesn`t get games, then…please Mr Wenger,play him a bit more,we have to keep him at AFC.He is an awesome talent.

  2. I always get nervous when the other teams do well – as with spurs and the manc wanks yesterday – because one team usually has a bad day…either way I think we’ll see a very different Shahkter Donuts this time. Up the Gunners!

  3. there’s no one to impress so far, though they started really well with Theo’s break-through……ahhh, Clichy!!

  4. emmanuel EBOUE needs to go please,gael CLICHY needs to go please, Nicklas Bendtner needs to go please,why o why did mr Arsène Wenger not put on Bacary Sagna.dont know what to say,please any one out there.

  5. Not too upset with the result. The squad is still in good shape in the group. Yes, the team gave up two goals, but both goals were defensive mistakes by Clichy (nothing new), and Eastmond, who is basically newly graduated to the first team. The team is not going to score 4-5 goals/match all of the time. We just can’t afford to make mistakes when we are down to just a single goal.

    Anyone know how long Gibbs is out?

  6. @ arsenalboy – Learn to lose a game a football with dignity. They are a good team, they played a good game, we played an experimental team, Clichy made a mistake – deal with it.

  7. LAGunner – I like your positive comments but regarding the Eastmond OG – the Shakhtar player (can’t remember his name, the defender who played for Barca) got a huge touch on the ball which deflected it onto his shoulder and in. There’s no player in the world that could have avoided that own goal. It was no mistake, just the type of goal that happens every once in a while.

  8. emmanuel EBOUE is one player i would love to see go. hes time is up. us arsenal fans are to soft.

  9. Well, Mr. Wenger is someone who dares but this last plan of his was an absolute kamikaze one.
    Don’t get me wrong, I always support my team but from the moment I saw that lineup, I knew that we would be lucky to get a draw at best!
    Eastmond , Eboue, Bendtner, Vela?? Great players when you have Fabregas, Song and Arshavin on the pitch but on their own.. they are really easy to contain and they are lousy defenders off the ball..
    Same goes for defenders, Squilaci is Ok along side Koscielny and Sagna.. but put Eboue, and Djourou.. then it’s really a regular defence at best.
    Anywho, we are still favorites to qualify top of the group but the pressure is on to win the next two games as I am pretty sure Shaktar will not loose any other matches…
    Went from an easy qualification road, to a pressure filled last group stages matches.
    -Should have played, Song, Arshavin, Sagna, koscielny, and Chamack.. (Arsenal) claims injuries on some of them but i beg to differ)
    Well, done tho’, … 1st in uefa CL group, and 2nd in EPL, still in for Carling Cup and FA Cup.. so the glass is beyond half full… Welcome back RVP and Aaron as well…
    they tried to pass the ball around but it was too stong, too slow, too early..

  10. We can field first team in every games.. if Wenger fielded Sagna or Cecs and both got injured ? No doubt Wenger will bear the blame. On the positive side we’re still top of the group, one more win and we’ll confirm group leader. Walcott is gettin sharper . Hope Clichy learned through his mistake ..and doesnt repeat it against New Castle United. Eboue is popular amongst the players you could tell by the way he celebrates each goal with limited playing time of course he’s a bit rusty.

  11. A bit harsh on Eastmond guys but I guess its throwing toys out of the pram time. With Clichy gradually losing his speed, there’s nothing else in his repetoire that can save him, he’s not very good at tackles so there goes the recovery tackles we used to see him execute about 8 seasons back whenever he loses the ball(when he still had speed).

    Hope Clichy dosen’t turn into a Toure, we all know what Wenger did when Kolo lost his speed. I don’t blame Clichy because he just dosen’t have the positional sense of Ashley Cole or the timely tackles ala Kos.

    Gibbs is one player I want to see play more when he recovers, he deserve at least to alternate with Clichy.

    Ultimately Wenger got the tactics wrong but it’s all done and dusted. For me the more pressing issue is RVP, Wenger got to take a really serious stance on RVP injuries and only playing for Holland. EPL champions do not have their main striker play only 15 games a season, even Drogba the injury prone played more than RVP.

  12. Well, Lil Weezy, I personally am glad AW rested key players likes Song, Kosh and Sagna etc. because I’d much rather have them fit and raring to go for the important game against Newcastle. We may have lost anyway. Shakey Donuts were always going to be well up for this one (what about those fans??) as some of us – ahem – knew they would be (see my earlier comment) (and Andrews i suppose…!). The fact is this game was not ultra important given the position we’re in – I still think we’ll qualify top of the group and that’s all that matters – so why take an unnecessary risk? In fact I’d have like to have seen Lansbury also get a run out and JET on for a longer spell. Song and Fabregas should be back for Newcastle and that makes us a whole different proposition straight away.

    Incidentally – another good game from Flappy despite the goals. :ol:

  13. @Guys – This game was very unimportant. Were sure of winning the next home game and the away game against Braga can be done if were field a strong side.
    Clichy laid the pass that gave Song our winning goal which kept up our title challenge hopes alive.

    Are we sure we dont hate all the players? Some key players were missing for goodness sakes and this was a very very unimportant away match.
    @Carlos – u can check ur reply

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