Well, this is awkward. A few times a season such a thing happens: we play a team I know nothing, or next to nothing, about. And yet I have to write a preview.
In such cases I try to concentrate more on what we do and how we approach the game and this is exactly what I’m going to do now. However, you can check out this article if you want to learn a little about our opposition.
Team news update
The big news is that Jack Wilshere will have to undergo a surgery on his ankle. The operation and subsequent rehabilitation will see Jack sidelined for around three months, in a year when staying fit was pivotal for Jack’s stake at a starting spot.
For him the lay-off means he’ll miss a lot of football and will find it hard to break into the starting XI when fit again. For us it means Arteta is the only fir central midfielder on the bench. And, though I like the Spaniard a lot, he is just one man. I think it would be sensible to have at least one more option from the bench, be it a talented youngster or someone from the current starting XI. We’ll see how Arsene reacts, but it looks like he is content, for the time being, with having just Arteta as a midfield sub.
Everyone that was available against Stoke will be available today, so we should put together the usual good squad. However, with three players already out with long-term injuries, any further injury would see us looking at youngsters, so fingers crossed we can avoid it.
Squad and approach
“You need to find the balance between urgency and confidence and at times that is difficult as you can quickly be too confident and lose your urgency.”
Interestingly enough, Wenger has confirmed Bellerin and Ramsey were left behind (in London), so that they could get a rest. That means it will be relatively easy to guess who will play.
As highlighted by the quote above, Wenger will most likely use this game as an opportunity to rotate, so I think a slew of regulars will get a rest. It’s also important to keep other players happy, not just provide the starters with a breather.
The big decisions for me are who starts in goal and whether Arteta comes in for Coquelin. I’d say Cech is more likely to start, as we don’t have a tradition of rotating keepers in the Champions League. As for Coquelin, this is one of the few opportunities to rest the Frenchman, so I think Wenger will start Arteta over him.
“I think he has an eye for the goal. The quality of his receptions in the box is at the top. He will become a instinctive finisher when he has a couple of goals behind him.
He needs a few more goals to score a bit more spontaneously. He is quick and gets into good little pockets.”
Does this mean Theo will start? For me it sounds like he will. I suspect he’ll lead the line against Chelsea on Saturday, so it’s important to give him a chance to build up some momentum.
Predicted line-up: Cech – Debuchy – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Gibbs – Arteta – Cazorla – Ozil – Oxlade – Alexis – Theo
As for the approach, it’s hard to say, really. Will Dinamo be forced to play even a little bit before their own fans or will they shut shop completely? If they want to make at least third place to subsequently feature in Europa League, their only chance is getting as many points at home as possible.
“It is important we go to Zagreb highly focused and conscious at what is at stake there. You can be quickly out of the Champions League and we want to start well and we know we have a battle first to qualify with Bayern Munich [in the group].”
We have Olympiacos and Zagreb first and we have to finish above them and the result will come down to that. I think it is important to start well.”
Well, that about sums it up. Having learned the hard way what complacency can lead to, we should go into this game with our usual attitude. If we manage that, we have the quality to claim the three points and kick off our European campaign.
So come on you Gunners.
Back with a review.