Monday, October 18, 2010

Arsenal vs Shakhtar Donestsk: An Early Preview

The battle for control of Group H reaches its peak in Match Day 3 as the two unbeaten sides; Arsenal and Shakhtar Donetsk meet in London. Both teams have won their two opening matches but the English’s side better goal difference just puts them in first place at this moment. Barring any late change in form from the other two teams in the group, Braga and FK Partizan, the two qualifiers for the knockout round will come from Arsenal and Shakhtar.

That is why the double header between both teams is of utmost importance as the winners will probably take first place and a more favourable draw in the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
The last time Arsenal met Shakhtar in the Champions League was way back in 2001 Arsenal came back from a 2-0 deficit to triumphed 3-2 at Highbury with goals from Wiltord and a double by Keown late in the match secured the victory.

Arsenal should be boosted by news of the return of Cesc Fabregas for this match joining fellow returnees Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner. Jack Wilshere who was red-carded in Arsenal last match against Birmingham will also be available. However, Arsenal faces a lack of depth in defence as three of their four first choices defenders; Sagna, Koscielny and Vermaelen are out injured. Clichy might also be replaced by Gibbs for this match so the Gunners back four would be playing for the first time together in this match.
As for Shakhtar, they are also having injury problems of their own especially in midfield where Douglas Costa and Fernandinho will also be missing from the match. Ex Barcelona defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy is probably going to be involved in the match after returning from a hamstring injury.

It will be a sentimental night for Shakhtar’s Eduardo who left the Emirates in the summer after spending 3 years with the London club. His stay at the club started with a bang but was abruptly cut by the broken ankle he suffered which kept him out for close to two years. Since returning from the ankle injury, he has not managed to regain his pre-injury form. He is still very much loved by the Arsenal fans and should receive a warm welcome when he steps out on the field on Tuesday night.

Champions League Preview by CescY

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