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Sparta Prague vs. Arsenal

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Sparta Prague V Arsenal

Arsenal travel to Prague on Wednesday to play their first Champions League game since their shock exit in the second round at the hands of PSV back in March.

It'll not be as easy-a-game as last time Arsenal visited Prague, a new manager and an almost entirely new team will ensure that the Czech's will give a far better account of themselves this time round.

One major thing to look for in the game will be the tactics that Arsene Wenger will deploy. Will 4-5-1 be the order of the day? Will the formation that saw Arsenal beat Fulham, a 4-4-1-1, be the order of the day? Or will Arsene revert to a 4-4-2 in order to give Van Persie some more support?

The benefits of playing 4-5-1 are obvious - it offers more stability in the team and offers more defensive support. It would give Fabregas the same protection he has had over the last 18 months in the Champions League, meaning he is free to work his magic without having to worry so much about fighing for the ball.

4-4-2 would offer Robin Van Persie the support he seems to need in order to strut his stuff. When Arsenal played Fulham he looked out of the game for large periods, despite Arsenal dominating posession. Only when Bendtner came on did he show his true class. This would certainly be the formation I would like to see, a combative Flamini and towering Bendtner would complimnt both Fabregas in midifled, and Van Persie up front, allowing both to do what they do best - create and score goals!

It's likely that not much will change fromt the tactics deployed over the last 2 seaons in the Champions League, meaning Eboue ill probably play on the right wing once again, with Hleb, Fabregas and Flamini in the middle, flanked by former Sparta man Tomas Rosicky.

Tomas Rosicky has already said that his return to Prague will be an emotional one on his part. I'm afraid to say that I can't see the home fans feeling the same way so expect him to suffer a torrent of abuse when he's on the

Vital Quotes:

As I mentioned, Tomas Rosicky says that his return to Prague will be emotional for him after coming through the Czech giants youth academy.

Speaking to Arsenal TV Online Tommy said: 'It will be the first time I have played against them.

'I grew up there. This is my club. I was there from seven or eight until my 20s and Sparta Prague prepared me for all the steps throughout my career.

My brother played for Sparta Prague and my father played for Sparta Prague so it is a bit emotional.

It will be strange for me because I have feelings for the club.'

The midfielder may sound slightly reluctant to face his boyhood club, but he has the backing of his current manager: 'It is a game where Tomas is a bit more under pressure than others because of the extra scrutiny.

'But he is classy and I feel he is at the age where he can get the right balance in the final third.

'He is sharp, quick and lively. We want him to give key passes and score goals - and I am convinced he will.'

Michal Bilek knows that Rosicky is a threat, and will be hoping Sparta can keep him quiet: 'We mustn't give him any space because he is very dangerous when unmarked.

'We don't just want an acceptable result,'

'Only a win will keep our chances alive going into the return leg, and I hope the sell-out crowd will help us.'

Sparta Prague Team News:

Sparta will be without 2 centrebacks for the game after Jan Simunek departe for Wolfsburg.

Jiri Kladrubsky could make his European debut on the left.

Player to watch: Libor Došek

Došek is a typical No.9 - big, strong, powerful, and just what the Arsenal back four hate to play against.

At 6 foot 6 inches, he'll give Arsenal's defence a rough ride for the duration.

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal will once again be missing 5 players.

Adebayor(groin), Gilberto (on holiday), da Silva, Denilson and Daiby (all ankle) will miss the trip.

The team which started against Fulham is likely to play again.

Player to watch: Alex Hleb

This boy was made to play European football. He may not have the physical strength that's ideal in the Premiership, but he has as much technical ability as any Premiership player.

Always looking to go forward and make things happen, he'll be a key player on Wednesday, espically if he's played in the hole again.

Ref Watch:

Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo will over see the first leg. I would give you some stats on the man, but I haven't got any, so I can't.

Match Prediction:

It wont be an easy game for Arsenal, but don't the Gunners just love the big ones? I'm going for a 3-1 away win. Van Persie to grab one for Arsenal before Hleb (yes HLEB) adds another. Došek will pull one back but Rosicky will make himself even more popular in Prague by scoring a long range effort late on for Arsenal.

The Journalist

Writer: Nick Simmonett  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday August 14 2007

Time: 8:40PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
i rekon its one of these games which will realy depend on the opening twenty minutes. it will either be very comfortorble or very frustrating. i think the first is probably more likely. a comfrtble 2-0 victory for me.
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14/08/2007 21:40:00

I think a tentative low scoring draw or 0-1 away win for us, we can save the adventurous play for the Emirates - this is a tricky tie.
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14/08/2007 22:09:00

1-2 to the Arsenal I reckon. Good to see Spurs continue their top 4 form tonight, haha! Must be said though, when I saw the Everton team on paper I thought, that's a pretty good balanced side. They didn't disappoint either. If they stay injury free, they could be a genuine top 4 challenger, unlike the pretenders from the matchbox.
Report Abuse
14/08/2007 22:19:00

1-1 or 2-1 to arsenal...rosicky to score
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14/08/2007 22:42:00

Tottenham lost again, hahaaahaah. Lets all laugh at tottenham, lets all laugh at tottenham,lalalala...
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14/08/2007 23:28:00

Yes Kevin i have been laughing for the last hour... Onto the Arsenal, i think Hleb and Rosicky will star in this one 2-1, with those two getting the goals and us struggling desperately with Dosek.
Ozi Gooner
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15/08/2007 00:43:00

Why do you think they're gonna abuse Tommy, Rocky? I would've thought he'd be well liked being their national team captain, the only player he showed up for them at the world cup, a former player for the club along with his brother and his dad... if you mean coz of the whores that'll surely just be some fiendly stick.
Ozi Gooner
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15/08/2007 00:47:00

2-1 to the Arsenal. BTW, worth a trip to the spud's site. Some wonderful reading, and more than a bit of knife twisting thanks to Iceman, rocky, PG and the like. It has made my day. Those lads are in disarray!
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15/08/2007 01:50:00

HAHa spuds lost again!!! back to ARsenal I think it will be a dificult one but Arsenal to score a late goal and win it 0-1
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15/08/2007 02:46:00

might concede 1 maybe 2 goals in this one. we have always found it hard against tall forwards (esp in set pieces). but i think our boys will do well in counter attack and score the goals needed to win. my money is on RVP, hleb, and fabs to score. if tomas scores well that might be the start of a great season for him. so 3-2 to arsenal in a tricky night. btw, well done everton.
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15/08/2007 05:39:00

This is very tricky, at most a 0-1 win or 1-2 win for us. Tomas might be knocked out by the fans.
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15/08/2007 06:19:00

I also think we will line up in a 4-4-1-1, same as Fulham. This is going to be a tough one, and I will be ok with a draw 1-1.
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15/08/2007 06:44:00

i love a bit of sado masochism me. thought I'd come on here for a good beating. lol
Jacky B
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15/08/2007 09:23:00

glad to oblige jacky b...
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15/08/2007 10:47:00

its not really worth spending time writing about them, but has anyone read vital sp*rs this morning!? they've gone from 4th spot in the bag to lucky to get in the UEFA cup places! hilarious!
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15/08/2007 10:47:00

we dont have to do much beating though, you guys are doing a great job all by yaselves over there at vitalspudsville
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15/08/2007 10:50:00

yeah the baby has just gone done the plughole
Jacky B
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15/08/2007 11:00:00

lol jacky!
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15/08/2007 11:06:00

0-1 galas to score... also I love How Just a week ago, Jol was god, He could do no wrong, Spurs where going to challenge for top four and all was good down at the lane. Suddenly. Jols a tit who should be sacked, Yay, Another 3 years of them finding a new manager, talking him up, and sacking him a week after things looks slightly promicing. Oh and 16mil for bent still makes me LOL
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15/08/2007 11:11:00

Jacky not even us lot would have predicted such diabolical poo from your team so early in the season sorry mate!
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15/08/2007 11:11:00

2-0 to the Gunners... Sparta here we come!
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15/08/2007 11:13:00

Yeah it feels like a curse at the moment. I think you guys should aknowledge though that our site is pretty much split into 2 camps one pro, and one anti jol
Jacky B
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15/08/2007 11:15:00

Sparta will no doubt be worried about not conceding an away goal so will probably look for a 1-0 like PSV did last season. We'll probably have lots of the ball, but will need to take the chances we're sure to make as early as possible. van Persie to hopefully get off the mark in Europe...
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15/08/2007 11:18:00

jacky its funny you mention sado-masochism mate, i did whole post about you lot and that particular fetish you seem to have, right at the start of the transfer season but i didnt know it would get this bad.
Ozi Gooner
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15/08/2007 11:23:00

it aint that bad! its pretty funny for you lot i know, but the season is far from over. It is a big handicap that we seem to be giving ourselves though, what with the games v Man U, and you lot coming up. But a good performance in either of those games will kickstart things for us.
Jacky B
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15/08/2007 11:25:00

Yeah you guys always start bad anyway but Jacky, I here there's a bit of foot in mouth disease going round over that way. You wouldnt by any chance know where that started do you? Considering you're always one of the last Spuddies to jump the gun i'd stay away from White Hart Lane for a while or you mind find yourself apending a bit of time in quarintine!
Ozi Gooner
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15/08/2007 11:27:00

*might find and *spending
Ozi Gooner
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15/08/2007 11:31:00

On a serious note Jacky(or not!) the teams around you do seem to have raised their games a bit pre season, so last season you were able to recover from it, this season may be different, with the exception of realists like yourself, your fans never cease to amaze me with how quick they are to vilify their own!
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15/08/2007 11:53:00

its just frustration cos if we wanna get where we are aiming, it shoulda be 9pts from first 3 games to show we mean business.
Jacky B
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15/08/2007 11:57:00

The reason for this frustration is the hype and expectation before the start of the season, and you have only yourselves to blame for that, jacky. I think a few of us here pointed out the deficiencies in mid-field especially, but I didnt see that being discussed at all on the spurs forums (I may be wrong here). NOW you lot see that JJ, Zokora cant quite cut it? It IS early days though, and other teams are bound to go through a dip in form.
Report Abuse
15/08/2007 12:09:00

Except the mighty Arsenal prits!
Ozi Gooner
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15/08/2007 12:14:00

Prits, they played some garbage teams in pre season aswell that added to the hype aswell, what do you reckon ?
Report Abuse
15/08/2007 12:17:00

everyone on Vitalspurs knows our CM pairing is not good enough, everyone also has different ideas as to what it should be. Quite a lot think we need a new signing. I think the hype is to be expected with our showing in the past 2 seasons aswell. but like you say, the bigger the expectation....
Jacky B
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15/08/2007 12:29:00

Ahem thank you for that (important) caveat, OziG. What was I thinking :)
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15/08/2007 13:08:00

the spuds are panicking too much if you ask me jacky b. your pre-season fixtures indicate a lack of vision and/or tact from jol and thats the issue, no matter who you sign he is not a top 4 manager and thats that...
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15/08/2007 14:12:00

2-0 this evening. Job done, well done lads. Back home and 2-0 there sees us safely into the CL proper. Bring on the weekend and let's see 6 points keeping us up with the Chavs and 4 clear of Utd. Not to mention 6 clear of a certain other club.... After all the uncertainty of the summer, this season hasn't started off too badly!
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15/08/2007 22:49:00

Good win 2-0, and more importantly both goals coming from mid-field. I hope Cesc has a better goal scoring season, after scoring in the previous seasons qualifiers too, he has done it again. Pleased for Hleb as well.
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16/08/2007 06:37:00


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