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Arsenal v. AS Roma


Emirates Stadium



On Sky

After another false dawn following an impressive cup performance, Arsenal will need to pick themselves up and regroup ever so quickly as the task gets no easier when AS Roma invades the Emirates on Tuesday.

This game should make for a better viewing than the Sunderland match did because there is no chance Roma will set up like Sbragia's men did. Arsenal's newly found defensive sturdiness will be tested like never before this year. Though come Tuesday night, I'm afraid we won't be talking about defense, but instead our lack of offense again.

Vital Quotes:

Wenger had this to say leading up to the club's 200th European match. 'I don't believe Roma will come for a goalless draw,' said the Frenchman.

'They will play in an Italian way, catch us on the break because they know an away goal will give them a good chance.

'We will have to have a spot-on defensive performance and score goals against them.'

He went on to say this. 'We are, I believe, strong enough to beat them,' he told Sky Sports News.

'But in the Champions League at that level it's down to minor mistakes, being in good form on the day, being decisive and taking your chances.

'It's a very important game because I feel a big victory can give them the lift and confidence they need.

Arsenal Team News:

Abou Diaby will return to the Arsenal squad for the first time since being stretchered off in the final minute against West Ham. He will most likely return to the starting lineup to support van Persie at attacking midfield, as Wenger will probably set up in a 4-5-1 formation.

Clichy was taken off in the final minutes against Sunderland, and he proceeded to go straight down the tunnel. I have not heard any news on his condition so I would expect him to be on the team sheet, but if not Gibbs will have a big task ahead of him.

Other than Diaby, nobody else will return. Eduardo, Rosicky, Walcott, Fabregas, Adebayor, and Silvestre are all still out. Arshavin is cup tied and will not feature despite Wenger's complaints on the matter.

Possible starting XI: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Eboue, Song, Denilson, Nasri, Diaby, van Persie

Player to watch: Neves Denilson

Wenger also targeted Denilson as player to watch because he will be in for a battle of the highest order against Daniele de Rossi.

This is what Wenger had to say about the battle. "When you play against Roma you know there is one battle you cannot lose and that is in midfield because that is their strong point."

"They play with a congested midfield and with a lot of short passing on the ground. If you lose that battle you will be second best."

I know Denilson has been asked to play as a defensive midfielder, but he has a good eye and we need him to take a few more gambles up field and not just pass it side to side.

Roma Team News:

Roma have an injury crisis of their own. Centreback Juan and striker Mirko Vučinić are both out, while Totti and right back Cicinho did not practice on Monday and are major doubts. Expect Italian U-21 captain Marco Motta to fill in for Cicinho and Simone Loria to take Juan's place. If Totti is not fit then former Gunner Baptista will head Roma's attack.

Player to watch: Daniele De Rossi

Again this goes back to the battle in the midfield. Arsenal dominated the AC Milan midfield last season which led to our progression onto the quarter finals. A similar situation will take place in these ties. Whichever midfield walks away with the upper hand throughout the two ties, then you can be sure it will be that team in the hat for the next round.

Match Facts & Stats

This is Arsenal's 200th European game.

Arsenal have met only twice before, when the two faced each other 02-03 Champions League group competition. Arsenal won 3-1 in Rome and tied 1-1 at Highbury.

van Persie and Daniele De Rossi are both one card shy of an automatic suspension.

Ref Watch:

We will have a officiating crew from Denmark for this match. Claus Bo Larsen will be the head official. He was also the head official during the Super Cup in August between Manchester United and Zenit St. Petersburg, where he sent off Paul Scholes for a laughable handball.

Match Prediction:

I'm pretty doubtful of an Arsenal success tomorrow night. I think a 1-0 Roma win or another 0-0 draw is the most likely result, but I will predict a one nil win for the Arsenal. van Persie to come up with one moment of brilliance to put Arsenal in good shape to progress.

Next Fixtures:

28/2 (Sat)- Fulham (H)- Premier League

3/3 (Tue)- West Brom (A)- Premier League

8/3 (Sun)- Burnley (H)- FA Cup

Writer:Brice Coffer
Date:Monday February 23 2009
Time: 10:07PM


Funny thing is after moaning about all our 0-0's is that will be a good result 2moro! I think Diaby will come back in and play behind RVP in a 4-5-1, that formation suits us better in Europe. Roma are the typical Italian team, like a snake on the break and the key man for me might well be Alex Song because if they break directly onto the back 4 its curtains.
23/02/2009 22:28:00
I think 0-0 would be a terrific result tomorrow night. Not conceding is the priority because we can counter attack sides that come at us away from home. As long as we don't concede tomorrow night, I think we'll go through because I always fancy us in Italy.
Little Dutch
23/02/2009 22:29:00
i think that with Diaby up behind RVP he might get that bit of creativity weve been lacking. I'm still retaining the faith that this baron run is going to end.... 2-0 to the Arsenal. RVP and Nasri to score with Eboue throwng in a blinder to win him back some love.
23/02/2009 23:10:00
i think a 0-0 draw will be the worst case scenario. cant see us dropping this game, the lads will want to prove themselves in this competition after our poor showing in the league. rvp to inspire us and perhaps baptista to inspire the romans. it will be a battle of the gladiators for sure!!
24/02/2009 01:40:00
sorry, just to clarify, i meant we SHOULD win, but at best roma will get a 0-0 result.
24/02/2009 01:43:00
As good as a 0-0 draw is in the long run, I think we need a goal out of this game to boost the spirits of the players/managers/fans.
24/02/2009 02:06:00
What LD, you fancy us in Italy, but alwaysgunner says that you're always negative, after all, he did read your one article in which you were not happy with how the team performed.
24/02/2009 03:13:00
Agree TP what a change, (woe betide us if we lose then we will hear how much he paid to go in again and again and again). Odd which part of my emails did I say he (LD) is always negative?? In general LD writes very good reports, if you could have cared to look back I have been in total agreement on many occasions; nevertheless I cant and wont always agree. But therein lies the problem disagree and the LD gang run to attack who ever does. A previous writer to this blog (and funny his initial was AG) arrived at the same conclusion alas he writes no more. If we lose I wait for the knitting needles.
24/02/2009 03:57:00
i think this will be tight affair with a huge possibility of either team nicking it with a 1-nil victory. But i hope for the opposite to occur, with us kicking their arses all over the pitch.3-1.
Youngest in Charge
24/02/2009 07:18:00
AG, I'll see it one more time. Whatever happens tonight, I'll report it tomorrow honestly and as I see it, whether we win 10-0 or lose 10-0. If you read it and disagree, by all means put across a different point of view. I think this will be very tight and I'd predict 0-0 and I would be delighted with that. Arsene has a great record with Italian teams, it suits our defence to play Italian sides who tend to favour slow build up play which I would back Toure and Gallas to snafoo. If Roma don't have Totti, I'd expect them to be happy with 0-0.
Little Dutch
24/02/2009 09:24:00
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