After thrashing the city rivals Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 last Saturday, Arsenal is going to host Dutch league champion AZ Alkmaar on 4 November in a group H match of UEFA Champions League 2009-10. With 7 points from 3 games, the Gunners are currently leading the point table and a victory over
on Wednesday night would see them through to the round of 16. Alkmaar would like to produce another surprising result against Arsenal as they did in their previous meeting on match-day 3 in the competition. The Dutch outfits held Wenger boys to a 1-1 draw courtesy of an injury time equalizer from David Mendes da Silva. However, the visitors know the fact that Emirates stadium has become one of the formidable fortresses in Alkmaar Europe. So, it seems that both sides would like to give their best with a view to picking up points they are looking for from the game and it seems that the match has a lot to offer for the football fans.
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Match: Arsenal vs AZ Alkmaar; Group H, UEFA Champions League 2009-10
4 November 2009, Wednesday
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Live TV: Sky Sports 2 Television Channel
Arsenal has been unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions and this unbeaten streak indicates their recent performance level. The only problem Arsenal seems to have been suffering for some time now is their inability to hold on to their early leads. Arsenal was put in front in the 1-1 draw against
thanks to a 36th-minute strike from Cesc Fabregas, but they wasted the lead conceding a late goal. The same thing happened in a 2-2 draw against a weak West Ham United last week as they failed to hold on to a 2-0 lead in the game. Overall, Arsenal needs to be more clinical in finishing off the match of this sort and the North Londoners desperately need to develop this skill if they are to end their title drought this season. Alkmaar
Ahead of the game against the Dutch side, Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has asked his teammates to show the killer instinct. He also thinks that Arsenal must learn from the mistakes they have done over the past few weeks.
'We must learn from these games. We have to do better,' Fabregas said. 'Of course we wish we could score four or five goals in every single game, but we must realise that sometimes that is not the way football is and sometimes to win the games, you just have to not make mistakes and work hard to keep the ball better.' – AFP
AZ Alkmaar has been in a contrastive form recently. Though they showed a spirited performance against Arsenal at home, the Dutch champions have managed only 2 wins in their last 11 games in all competitions. The only good sign is that the visitors would go into the game on the back of a 1-0 win over
last weekend. Despite have a good start to the season, the defending champions imploded embarrassingly in the league and are currently in 7th place with 18 points from 12 games with a 14-point deficit with leader FC Twente. So, it is pretty much that they have come far away from the title race this season, and that is why, they would perhaps be more determined to show something impressive in Groningen Europe.
AZ knows very well the kind of challenge they are going to face at Emirates on Wednesday and what it would require to stave off the challenge. It is apparent that picking up at least a point from the game would be the ultimate target of the visiting side, but restricting Arsenal from 3 points would not be an easy task. The only injury casualty is last season’s top scorer Moroccan striker Mounir El Hamdaoui who is currently out with a hamstring problem. However, they have some quality forwards in Graziano Pellè, Moussa Dembélé and Jeremain Lens.
Arsenal does not have any new injury concern except striker Nicklas Bendtner who picked up a groin injury during Arsenal 3-0 recent win over Tottenham in premier league and Wenger has confirmed that the club would miss the service of the player for 4 weeks. However, there is good new too for the Arsenal fans. Some of the injured players Samir Nasri, Eduardo and Ramsey have returned in action after recovering from their respective injuries, but Wenger is still missing the players like Denilson, Rosický, Djourou, Walcott, Wilshere and Vela.
Following the 3-0 thrashing of Tottenham, Gunners boss Wenger is full of praise about his boys. He thinks that Arsenal has finally started showing what they are capable of and the kind of class and talent they possess. He also believes that Arsenal has enough resource to win title this season.
“Do we have enough to win the title? I say yes. I’ve said that since the first day of the season and it won’t change now,” Wenger said.
“We want to show consistency and intelligence and that is not easy,” the Frenchman added.
“I believe we have the opportunity and it will be down to our attitude. It is not about opinions, it is about performances on the pitch. That is what is important and we are doing that at the moment. It has been a fantastic week for the club.”
Arsenal has a very strong squad in the presence of some match winner. The back line is pretty much settled now as Gallas, Vermaelen, Sagna and
have been doing their job with sheer success. Goalkeeper Alumnia has been back in action with the game against Tottenham and kept the clean sheet, but Wenger is reportedly tempted to feature Vito Mannone in Champions League. The manager would take a late decision on whom to deploy in Arsenal goalpost. Their midfield also features some strong characters like Fabregas, Arshavin who are excellent both physically as well as technically. Song could be the holding midfielder. Diaby and Eboue both could feature, unless Arsenal plays a second striker in Eduardo alongside Robin van Persie. Clichy
Online Live Score and Updates
Here, I am giving some website names from where you can get the live score and updates of the match:
Arsenal is clearly favorite against AZ, given their scoring form of recent and their consistent dominance at home. However, AZ would not like to be dominated by the Gunners, rather would be looking to produce a spirited performance at Emirates. Arsenal could feel extra pressure as the expectation from them would be high, and picking up 3 points is now considered to be a duty for Arsenal. On the other hand, AZ has nothing to lose in a defeat at the hands of the home side; rather has everything to win. So, despite Arsenal’s high-flying form of recent, you can expect a highly competitive match between Arsenal and AZ Alkmaar.