Sunday, September 16, 2007

Arsenal vs. Sevilla: Champions League Match Preview

Wednesday will see Arsenal play Sevilla in the first week of fixtures of the 2007 Champions League. These two teams are heavy favorites to go through to the knockout rounds, and this encounter should prove to be a scintillating one.

Sevilla, who finished 3rd in Spain's La Liga last season, beat Recreativo Huelva 4-1 today, despite a missed penalty from Alexander Kerzhakov. Alongside Real Madrid they are one of two teams with a 100% record in La Liga so far this season (although Juande Ramos' side only played 2 matches due to the qualifying fixtures against AEK Athens). Nonetheless, they should provide a stern challenge for the Gunners.

Arsenal have similarly started well, coming in to Wednesday's match at the top of the Premiership table. Although they were held to a 1-1 draw against Blackburn, nobody can say that they have been under performing. Yesterday's 3-1 victory over Tottenham showed the spirit of our youngs guns, and technically the Arsenal youngsters are as good (or better) than any other team. Arsenal are slight favorites to win this fixture, but it will take some doing to unravel a tough Sevilla side.

One of the most important (and most exciting) battles of the match will be the one between Arsenal left-back Gael Clichy and Sevilla right-back Dani Alves. The Brazilian right-back is better on the attack than in defense, and is an integral part of the Sevilla team. Gael Clichy is also a dazzling attacker, whose dribbling skill is not matched by many players (let alone defenders). It will be interesting to see how the two deal with each other.

Another man Arsenal will have to watch out for is Fredi Kanoute. The former Tottenham striker has been on a good run of form lately, and scored twice in today's drubbing of Recreativo Huelva. The tall Malian will have to be well marked by equally tall Philippe Senderos if we are to keep the ball out of our net.

If we can keep those two quiet, I think the game should be fairly easy for Arsenal. Our midfield is sure to control the game, and the slick one-touch football of Arsenal will be difficult to defend against. Let's hope for some more goals from midfield and some good performances at the back. Maybe we'll even have a Robin van Persie who seems to be in the game...

In any case, I predict that we will win this entertaining encounter 2-1. I hope you can all catch this exciting game (good news for those of you in America: they're showing the match live on Setanta)! Let's hope for a win, because this one will be a huge leap towards the knockout rounds.