When Schalke visited Arsenal in the Champions League two weeks ago, it would have been ambitious to predict a win for the guests. A wager on the final result, a 2-0 win for the German side, might to many have seemed a gamble on little more than a hope and a prayer.
The result spoke for itself, though, and began a dismal run of form for Arsenal while signaling Schalke's emergence as a true power of European football.
Following a rather shocking result at the Emirates, Schalke and Arsenal will again face off, this time in Gelsenkirchen's Veltins Arena. If their previous match is any indicator, viewers will be in for a very entertaining match. Read on for some insight into how the match will play out and what to expect in its aftermath.
To date, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has not exactly shown the stunning form this season as he did in the last, but the Netherlands international, nonetheless, is a strong shout for a hat trick.
Always a good bet to score, the prolific forward has been on target in each of Schalke’s three games in the Champions League this season.
He had more than enough opportunities to net a hat trick in London two weeks ago, and given both the class of his supporting staff in midfield and the confidence Schalke will have in the form of a packed Veltins Arena, he surely will have an abundance of service on Tuesday.
The question is whether he’ll convert, and it is never wise to bet against Huntelaar scoring.
It’s been over a year and a half since Jack Wilshere burst to prominence on the international stage, matching Xavi and Andres Iniesta in midfield as Arsenal suffered a heartbreaking Champions League defeat to Barcelona.
After what seems an eternity on the sidelines with injuries, the 20-year-old is fit once more. Although he has shown the form of a player who has been sidelined for ages, it’s not at all out of the cards that the England international will again make his mark on the grand stage that is the Champions League.
With Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta in their midfield, the Gunners have little need for a player of Holtby’s skill set. Depth never hurt, but there are other areas in the Arsenal squad that are in more urgent need of improvement.
“I have always said that I want to play in England one day. I wouldn’t rule out even Liverpool, even though it would be a blow to my father, a diehard Everton fan.” Thus said Lewis Holtby in a recent interview.
According to Bild, the 22-year-old has concrete offers from both Liverpool and Arsenal, and his continued reluctance to sign an extension suggests he is leaning closer and closer to an exit—even if it means playing for a club that most likely will not play in the Champions League next season, or one that Schalke beat twice.
During his career in Germany, Podolski only scored more goals against Werder Bremen than Schalke. The striker-turned-winger is always a danger on the counterattack, and against familiar opposition he will surely have enough chances to break his recent scoring duck.
Especially given that Schalke conceded three goals over the weekend and may shuffle their central defensive lineup ahead of Tuesday’s clash, there is a very real possibility that Podolski could grab a couple goals in Gelsenkirchen.
It seems that nearly every team that comes up against Arsenal has a world class right winger. This is not because every team Arsenal faces truly has that much class in that position, but more indicative of the utter incompetence Andre Santos has shown as a defender.
In recent weeks, Antonio Valencia, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Farfan himself relentlessly attacked Arsenal in their most vulnerable area, leaving Arsenal to hope their opponents’ finishing was not up to snuff. This is a very, very dangerous bet when facing in Huntelaar: a player who scored 53 goals for club and country last season.
With Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Eisfeld, Leander Siemann, and Gedion Zelalem among Arsenal’s senior, reserve and youth sides, it’s quite clear that Arsene Wenger has been captivated by the allure of Bundesliga talent.
Last week, a report emerged revealing the manager’s intention to further intensify his side’s scouting efforts in Germany. Following Schalke’s win in London, and potentially a repeat in Gelsenkirchen, the rumors linking S04 players to Arsenal will almost surely increase to include more than just Holtby.
Schalke have a huge talent in 19-year-old German international Julian Draxler, and their U19 side contains more than a couple gems. Maximilian Meyer, for example, may be young at 17, but that never stopped Wenger.