Sunday, November 21, 2010

Braga vs Arsenal: An Early Preview

This is a chance for the Gunners to bounce back immediately after that disappointing derby defeat on Saturday. I still haven’t come to terms with that defeat and in the midst of analyzing what went wrong in the second half against Spurs. The lads, however, do not have the luxury of brooding over the defeat and have to get over the disappointment quickly as they hope to secure qualification in the knock-out stages.
We only need one point from our remaining matches to guarantee us a place in the next round. We already failed in our first attempt to secure that place when we lost to Shakhtar Donestsk earlier so this is again another opportunity for us. Although we thrashed Braga 6-0 at the Emirates, I don’t think the Portuguese side will rolled over once again for us.

Braga are still in with a shout after getting a precious 1-0 win away to FK Partizan in their last group match. However, that victory was the only bright spark in recent weeks for the side as they suffered three consecutive losses in the league. So this should be a good time for us to visit them and grind out a result.
Besides the long term absentees, the squad is at full force with no major injuries after the weekend. I expect to see Van Persie, Walcott and Wilshere in the starting line-up. In particular, I am excited to see how Van Persie performs after his two substitute appearances since he came back has been far from convincing. Ditto for Walcott. These two are important players for us and they have to buck up if we are going to be challenging for titles this time around.

Although the defeat last Saturday was not totally down to bad performances from the defence, the quartet will again come under intense pressure from the Braga forward line of Matheus and Lima. Matheus in particular was quite a handful at the Emirates with his pacy runs which could expose Squillaci and Koscielny’s lack of pace, which was evident on Saturday.

All in all, inconsistent displays are hurting us deeply this season. However, this is a chance for the lads to forget about Saturday and get on with the job at hand.

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