Pre-Match Preview: Arsenal vs. AZ Alkmaar

Muhammad Umar JawedCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2009

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 19:  Emmanuel Eboue of Arsenal talks to the media during a press conference at the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel on October 19, 2009 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Arsenal are in the middle of a hot run. Winning games, scoring loads of goals, and the whole team is functioning as a well-oiled unit. Now, Arsenal has a tricky tie to AZ Alkmaar, where the safe passage to the knock-out stages can be ensured. 

Once again, the Arsenal injury list has started to rise.  Nasri, Denilson, Walcott, along with Eduardo, are out. Bendtner is doubtful, but Vela is back. Mannone's error might cost him the starting place and Almunia might start. Clichy is in doubt.

The Opponents

To know more about our opponent, I did everything from searching in Google to watching videos on YouTube and watching Eredivisie matches on Ten Sports.

So, the information I found about AZ is:

AZ are the Dutch champions and are a good team, but are really suffering in the league right now and are looking terribly off-form. They play the usual Dutch-league, slow football. But Ronald Koeman has always stifled Wenger teams, so we have to be wary. But if we play the football we have been playing for a month, I expect us to get a positive result.

The Arena

The match is scheduled in the DSB Stadion. The stadium is able to hold 17,023 people and it officially opened on 4th August, 2006. What a coincidence this is that the first match in this stadium was a friendly between AZ and the Gunners.

Possible Team (Gunners)

Clichy had a slight knock, so he would be fit enough for this, I guess. Although there is no harm in giving Gibbs an extended run at LB.

It's high time that Merida and Senderos got some action. We are getting too reliant on Gallas and Vermaelen. 

Senderos should have started against Brum after scoring a brace for the Swiss in midweek. He wasn't even on the bench over the weekend and I can't believe that Tweety is playing better in training than Big Phil.

Merida was hot in the Under-20 World Cup and Wenger has to start showing some confidence in him. Wilshere has hardly got a shot, despite being on the bench for so many games. Maybe it's time to include Merida instead of Jack.

Theo and Bendy being out means Eboue could start as the right forward, though I hope it's Rosicky.

Almunia could be back in goal. Yes, he had a bad start, but he still is our No. 1 keeper and we would need him during the big games. So he needs to play to get some confidence.

Possible X1


My Prediction

I think it will be a 2-0 win for the Gunners. A draw is also possible, but less likely. I think the game will get physical, and at that time Diaby and Song should take charge.

Arsenal's Players to Watch

Arshavin, Fabregas, Song, Robin

Alkmaar Zaanstreek's Players to Watch

Stijn Schaars, Simon Poulsen, Ariclenes da Silva