Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Arsenal v Sporting Braga: The big match preview

Arsenal v Sporting Braga
Champions League
At Ashburton Grove
Kick off: 19:45

Arsenal start their 13th successive Champions League campaign under Arsene Wenger tonight with the visit of the Portuguese runners up Sporting Braga.

It will be a test for Wenger's men. They will face Braga with the knowledge they are no walkover tie, having beaten Sevilla in the qualifying round to reach the group stages.

For the Gunners, the injury list is a long one. We'll be without Theo Walcott, Robin Van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen, Abou Diaby, Nicklas Bendtner and Aaron Ramsey.

With Vermaelen's continued absence, it looks likely Arsene Wenger will retain French duo Sebastein Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny in the heart of the defence.

I would expect the manager to recall French duo Bacray Sagna and Gael Clichy in the wide defensive berths, with Emmanuel Eboue and Kieran Gibbs dropping to the bench.

In midfield, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song will keep their starting places but I expect Samir Nasri to come in for Jack Wilshere. Nasri offers more experience and guile than the 18-year-old England international and I would expect to see him line up alongside Alex Song as part of Wenger's  two deep lying central midfielders.

Whilst I expect the front three to remain unchanged, there maybe movement on the right with Tomas Rosicky being rested.

It is important that Arsenal gain all three points as our record in the countries the teams we're facing play in isn't good. According to Orbinho, Arsenal haven't won in the  countries of any of the teams in Group H.

So three points and ideally a clean sheet is a must.

My starting line up is:

Almunia

Sagna - Squillaci - Koscielny - Clichy

Fabregas - Song - Nasri

Rosicky - Chamakh - Arshavin

I will post the official team line up when it is announced.

Come on you Gunners!

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